Jan. 15 college basketball chat

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 12:30pm

We know you've got questions — start with what's wrong? — after a blowout to Wisconsin and an even harder to swallow loss to Northwestern. Beat writer Marcus Jackson has all the answers ahead of Wednesday night's game against Purdue. Submit questions anytime.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:32 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

Good afternoon, thanks for participating in another Illinois basketball chat. I'm guessing there will be nothing but good vibes here today, right? Everyone's in a good mood after last week's games at Wisconsin and Northwestern, right? Only one way to find out, let's get to it.

TheKid07 — 12:32 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

Point guard questions:

I am not 100% sure of the timing but I believe that the NCAA denied Stark's waiver request before Snider jumped ship.  From comments from the Snider camp, it sounded like he was looking for a situation where he could be starting as a freshman.  Did the fact that Snider would have another experienced point guard to compete against for minutes next year push him from Illinois to Louisville?  Is this a situation where the inconsistancy of the NCAA rulings screwed the Illini?  I was surprised to hear you report that the Illini recruitment of Brunson eased when Snider gave his verbal and that because of that, Brunson is no longer looking at the Illini.  Are the Illini trying to reconnect with him?  Is there a high/medium/low chance that Illinois can still land him?  I would have thought that Brunson would have still benn a must get regardless if Snider came considering the emphasis Groce's system places on a strong point.     

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:38 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


Yes, Snider switched back to Louisville well after Ahmad Starks' waiver request was denied. He initially de-committed from Louisville because the backcourt situation there got crowded and that included JaQuan Lyle in his class. When Lyle de-committed from Louisville, Snider saw an opportunity at his dream school. Snider wanted to play right away. The fact that Ahmad Starks would be here and that Jaylon Tate got off to such a good start were also factors.

Illinois hasn't completely given up on Jalen Brunson, but it appears as though he's focusing all his attention elsewhere after Illinois' courtship of Quentin Snider. Chances are slim to get back in with him.

Love the Illini — 12:38 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

Why are the freshmen not giving us more productive minutes and I don't want to hear that they are freshmen and aren't ready yet. Nunn and Hill are suppose to be high level recruits there are similar players to their ranking starting and being productive for good teams all over the country. Watched Iowa State last night and Smith and Morris play 20-30 minutes every game while our guys can't play  more than10 or 12. Are Illinois's recruits overated this seems to be a trend the last few years as our freshmen never seem to be ready to play. Henry and Shaw were four star recruits who barely ever saw the floor at Illinois what is going on here. 

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:43 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


A majority of the time, recruits from the Chicago area are very much overrated by recruiting services. Happens all the time. Shaw and Henry, it would appear, fall into that category. There's just a hype machine up there that inflates value. Part of the reason the Illinois freshman haven't produced at the level you might be expecting is because there hasn't been a lot asked of them. Rice, Abrams, Bertrand, those guys are carrying the offensive scoring load with the other guys, freshmen included, serving as role guys. If those guys weren't scoring 40-plus points per game, perhaps the other would be more inclined to look for scoring opportunities. I think Nunn has been good, especially on the defensive end. He wasn't expected to come in and be a high-level scorer from the outset anyway. Hill has had some ups and downs and I think his best basketball is ahead of him. He will show you flashes, but based on the roster make up, he's not going to be a guy you're looking for double figures from jsut yet.

TheKid07 — 12:43 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

Does Aaron Jordan's verbal mean that the Illini will not pursue Matthews with the same emphasis since they are both SG? 

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:44 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


Charles Matthews is still a high-priority guy for Illinois in 2015. Jordan's commitment doesn't impact him. Matthews is more of a combo guard. He can play some point. Jordan is a wing. Now with Jordan in the fold, you probably won't be hearing much more about Kain Harris in Illinois recruiting talk going forward.

teachdacc — 12:46 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


Thanks for the great chats!  I am curious about the lack of low post ups by our "bigs".   I know we do lot of screen and rolls but would love to see post ups off the roll once go low.  Does Coach work on this in practice?  Do they also work on slips off the pick as well as a roll? 



Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:51 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


There are a handful of times in each game where Nnanna Egwu will roll off a screen and post up and open for a few seconds. He rarely gets the ball, though. Either the guard doesn't see him, or the passing lane isn't there. He'll get it some, but not a lot. But, that's also not a big part of the offense right now because, as the coaches have said a lot in the past, he's not a true back-to-the-basket center. He's really a 4 and he's not comfortable playing a ton down there. They'll slip screens, just depends on how the defense is playing things.

BigTime — 12:51 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

Illini need to bring their game face wed against Purdue. In your opinion, what would be the right game plan?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:55 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


Guard like they did at Northwestern. Lost in the brutal offensive showing was how well Illinois played on the defensive end. There's been a lot of questions about effort and toughness, but you don't play defense like that without effort. I even asked Groce after the game if the toughness was there before really looking at how the game unfolded. It was there, they just couldn't throw anything into the bucket on the other end. Offensively, it sounds real simple, but you've got to make some shots. You can analyze it all you want and criticize this and that, but they're running the same stuff that's worked before, they're just not making shots. Not just jumpers, layups and dunks. You'd like to see them get after it a little more in transition, but with a few key guys banged up, it's hard to play at a quick pace for long stretches.

BrianA — 12:55 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

Is Groce going to have to start trusting his bench more during the Big 10 season now?

The starters are playing 30-35 minutes a game and seems like he will have to use his bench more during the long conference season to keep guys healthy and not wear down as easy

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 12:59 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


If they can help, sure. Watching guys' minutes and monitoring their activity between game sis something they spend a lot of time on. Groce has been asked a few times his thoughts on delegating minutes. Essentially, he said, it comes down to a feel for the game and instincts on who he thinks gives them the best chance in certain spots. You'll see guys get more opportunities, but they've got to do something with those chances. They're not going to play guys just to say they did it, there's got to be a purpose behind it. If a guy gets in there and turns it over three times and blows a couple of defensive assignments in a short amount of time, he's probably not going to play much more.

illinigator — 01:00 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

why isn't la tulip given some playing time?  He can't shoot any worse than the others coming off the bench.  He can hit a three if he gets set to shoot.He was a top scorer in high school.  What does Croce got to lose by playing him more.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:04 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


For starters, Mike didn't make the trip to Northwestern because he's got a concussion. He says he took an elbow late in the Wisconsin game. So, he wouldn't have been able to help you Sunday. They're still not sure if he'll be cleared for tonight's game. And while Mike can shoot it, you're sacrificing some things, particularly on the defensive end if he's in the game and the strength of this team has been it's play at that end of the floor this year. And you said it in your question, he's got to be set to shoot most of the time. There are spots and opportunities to get Mike in there occasionally, but the other guys at that position are better at creating shots.

Bob from Normal — 01:04 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

If we were fortunate enough to land 2015 g Charles Matthews from St. Rita would we still pursue a pg (i.e. Glynn Watson or Hyron Edwards)? What other big men besides Diamond Stone, Elijah Thomas, and Carlton Bragg are we actively recruiting for 2015?

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:09 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014


Yes, Illinois is still going to continue to look for a 2015 point guard regardless of who else decides to commit in that class. It's a big-time priority. Edwards and Watson are on the watch list. There's a point guard in Texas. Can't think of his name right now. But he's another guy they're taking a look at.

As far as big men, the guys you mentioned are at the top of the list, though Bragg is a 4, not much of a 5. Josh Sharma from Northfield Mount Hermon, the same prep school as Aaron Cosby, is a possibility. So is Myles Carter from St. Rita.

Marcus Jackson (moderator) — 01:10 PM on Wed, 01/15/2014

That's all for today, thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check back tonight. I'll be on the radio with Steve Kelly from 5-6 and then again at 6:30 for the pregame show and I'll start the Live report at 7.

Talk to you soon.