April 16 Bob Asmussen chat

April 16 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, April 16, 2018 - 10:00am

Who are the teams to beat in the Big Ten this season? Can Illinois earn a bowl bid? Who will be the next player to commit to Lovie Smith's program?

For the answers to these questions, and anything else on your mind, check in with our longtime Illlinois football beat writer.

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 16, 2018 at 10:04 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmusen chat. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

I spent a bunch of time in the office. Don't know about the rest of you, but I like working on the weekends. The N-G is a great environment for writing.

It wasn't all work. I watched a lot of baseball and basketball on TV and also went to see "Blockers" on Saturday night. I highly recommend it.

Lots of cool stuff coming up this week, both locally and nationally. Hope the weather cooperates. It is snowing right now, on April 16. Not a word on complaint from me. I still root for snow days.

Enough weather talk, time to get to your questions. As always, thanks for your participation.

 

Anonymous User wrote on April 16, 2018 at 10:04 am

With the completion of the basketball facilities and the construction underway for the new football facility, what is the next sport to have physical upgades to help them? Surely baseball seems to need something and deservedly so. What about the other sports, and is there a long range plan for this? What about the chances for hockey to be added? And if it is hockey then we would have to add another women's sport right? Would that might be hockey as well? I know hockey would be expensive, but youth participation in Illinois is very big for both genders. What kind of facilities could you see upgrades happening in say the next five years?

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 16, 2018 at 10:04 am
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Anon,

Great questions. Let's start with what I think needs to done next. You hit it right on with baseball. The program is woefully behind most of the rest of the Big Ten in terms of facilities. Dan Hartleb has done a great job with the program and just picked up his 400th win. Very impressive.

Give Hartleb a better building and there is no telling how high he can take Illinois baseball. To me, improving the baseball facilities is a priority over every other project.

I am starting to warm up to the idea of hockey and I really like the idea of taking it off campus to a proposed downtown building, That would be great for the community. I can also see the merits of a on-campus arena.

If Illinois decides to add hockey, think women's and men's would be the way to go. Yes, it will be expensive, but ticket revenue will help with some of the costs. I think C-U will support both teams.

If a new arena is built for hockey, it makes a lot of sense to use that venue for volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics. That adds event dates to make the arena more viable. After the sporting events are scheduled, it would leave open time for smaller concerts, plays, etc.

I think the improved baseball facility will be done within five years. If hockey is added, that might be toward the end of the five years.

Anonymous Jim wrote on April 16, 2018 at 10:04 am

Did any players reshirt last year?  

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 16, 2018 at 10:04 am
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Anonymous Jim,

Lovie Smith used most of the first-year guys in 2017, But there were a few who sat out. Defensive linemen Kendrick Green, Lere Oladipo and Deon Pate redshirted. I believe all three will have a chance to contribute this season. Green was one of the most highly regarded players in the class. It will help him that he had a season to get bigger, stronger and faster.

There were several walk-ons who redshirted, including linemen Kevin Hinders from Champaign's St. Thomas More. I think i it is a good thing for Illinois to look locally when it comes to football recruiting. J Leman and Mikel Leshoure and a bunch of others worked out very well for the program.

Anonymous User wrote on April 16, 2018 at 10:04 am

With the great start to FB recruiting, do you think the Illini are in a position to be more selective this year in who they offer scholarships to? With those commtting does itseem like they will draw notice to other more highly regarded prospects? Do you think what with the Illini shutout last year in-state they will make a renewed effort especially with the schools in Chicago and its suburbs? Lastly with Mark Smith transferring does it seem  like it will effect future recruits in the Belleville/ East St. Louis area that Iliinois is not the place for them, or is this viewed as a individual player scenario not only on basketball but in football too? Thanks for the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 16, 2018 at 11:04 am
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Anon2,

Illinois football will have to be more selective because of the numbers. As I understand it, the max for this class will be in the 20 range Of course, if the school can add a great player to fill out the class, the coaches will make it work. But I don't think Illinois will be able to take the full 25.

Having two great players already locked up will definitely benefit the rest of the class. And both guys are from areas that Illinois has high interest in. So, the connections should pay off.

As I understand it, Lovie Smith and his staff are making a strong push to add players from Illinois. It is a good year in the state in terms of talent and the coaches are becoming more familiar with the high schools,. That can take some time with any new coaching staff and I think that is the case here. But as long as the staff does the work, it will eventually land some of the best in the state. I believe Illinois kids want to state in the state if they think the home program can win at a high level.

I don't think Mark Smith's departure will have a long-term impact on Illinois recruiting in the St. Louis area. It didn't work out for Mark Smith at Illinois, It happens. For any number of reasons. Bottom line for Illinois: win games and the players will come. The facilities are in place. The coaches know what they are doing. The conference is top notch. The academics are outstanding. Brad Underwood and his staff have a lot to sell. Losing one player doesn't indicate a trend.

 

 

 

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on April 16, 2018 at 11:04 am
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I am going to cut the chat off for today. Thanks for all of our questions.

I will be back next Monday at the same time. If you have anything between now and then, feel free to email me at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

Have a great week everyone.