Aug. 8 Illinois basketball chat

Aug. 8 Illinois basketball chat

Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 12:30pm

Scott Richey is in the thick of Illinois football training camp, but he's always open to basketball questions. Will Kahlil Whitney pick the Illini? Which other 2019 prospects might keep Brad Underwood's program in the mix as their lists are cut? Ask those questions and more of Illinois beat writer and feel free to submit anything football or volleyball queries, too, in his weekly chat that starts at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Scott Richey wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Good afternoon everybody. Another morning Illinois football practice in the sun might have me wanting a nap (I tell ya, it's hard work standing and watching for two hours), but I'll hold off to get through today's chat. And then (shameless self promotion coming) all of my Illini football coverage in Thursday's News-Gazette. Check it out!

There's a handful of questions already in the queue for me today, so let's get to it ...

Anonymous User wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Hey Scott.   I hear Samba passed his class... when will he arrive and when can the players start practicing again? And will samba be able to work with fletch as soon as he gets here?? Thank for your work

Scott Richey wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Anonymous,

If Samba Kane does in fact have all his academics in order, he'll arrive when the rest of the team does. The Illini have scattered now that their summer workouts are complete, and they really don't need to be back until the school year starts Aug. 27. Most, I'd presume, will return to campus at some point in the week before the first day of classes.

The players can get back in the gym whenever they return to C-U. Ubben is always open to them. They also get eight hours per week of conditioning, so Kane should (if I've re-read the NCAA bylaws correctly) get to work with Adam Fletcher before the start of official practices on Sept. 27 or Sept. 28. 

Steven I wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Hi Scott.  Thanks, as always, for your time.  I"m a relatively new fan of volleyball and really enjoyed watching the last year's Illini squad come together.  Unfortunate to have some turnover on the roster, of course, but that happens with all sports.  What should be a realistic expectation for this year?  Still some great pieces returning, but is it enough to be in the top five or six in the B1G and make another run into the second weekend of the NCAA Tourney?

 

 

Scott Richey wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Steven,

Welcome to the chat. It might be basketball-centric these days, but volleyball questions are always welcomed given Illinois volleyball was the first sport I covered when I joined The News-Gazette staff. 

The biggest loss from last year's roster was the graduation of Brandi Donnelly. Even then, Morgan O'Brien filled in pretty well last season when Donnelly went down with a knee injury, and O'Brien got some USA Volleyball experience this spring and summer.

Expectations should be pretty high this fall with the return of All-Americans Jordyn Poulter and Ali Bastianelli plus Jacqueline Quade, Beth Prince and Megan Cooney at the pins. Illinois will probably be ranked in the top 12 in the AVCA preseason poll, and I'd say the Illini could be at least a Sweet 16 team again. 

Bill-e-bob wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Hi Scott,

Last week Chris Tamas and Illini Volleyball announced an addition of a new transfer middle blocker, Ashlyn Fleming (6'4"), who had exceptional stats in her first two years at the University of the Pacific.  She could be a real difference maker for this year's team?  Do you think she might be able to help us defeat some of the top 4 Big Ten teams  this year? 

A brief announcement: to all Volleyball fans.  This Saturday, Aug 11, from 9:30-11:30 AM, you  can attend an open practice with running commentary by Coach Tamas.  This format is this year's Volleyball 101.  There will be a question and answer period after the practice.  Cost is $10 at the door at Huff Hall, sponsored by the Illini Networkers.  We hope all fans will take advantage of this early opportunity to see the team work out together and to talk with the Coach in an open-question format. 

Thanks to Scott for letting me post this to the chat.  More details are at the team website, under "News".

Scott Richey wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Bill-e-bob,

Adding Ashlyn Fleming was a major get for Illinois, especially at such a late date in the offseason. The West Coast Conference isn't quite the Big Ten, but Fleming adds good size at middle blocker and if she can put up numbers even close to what she did her first two seasons at University of the Pacific. Her mix of efficient hitting and block totals is certainly encouraging. The top of the Big Ten is going to be as tough as ever, but having Fleming on the roster, in my opinion, is better than not.

Big Dave wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm

I am pretty sure that "open gyms" are permissible in the preseason, but are the veteran players allowed to hold "practices" without the coaches to teach the offense and lead skill work? Over or under 16 wins this season?

Scott Richey wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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Big Dave,

Whatever the players want to do in the preseason (this year only a month between the start of classes and the first official practice) is on them. If they want to run open gyms, they can. If they want to do more skill work and teaching, have at it. There are only two caveats. Everything is voluntary, and the coaches can't be involved even a little bit.

You picked a pretty good point for your over/under question. Having not seen the full 2018-19 team play a single minute together at this point in August, I'm going to say over. Ultimately maybe not by much, but still over 16 wins.

MIKE FOSTER wrote on August 08, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Is being in so many Top 4, Top 10 with recruits a good thing? Or does it highlight the continued shortcomings of the program?

I'd rather be in the discussion than not, but hate being the bridesmaid and not the bride.

Thanks for all your work on the chat. It's always good to get an insiders view of things.

Scott Richey wrote on August 08, 2018 at 1:08 pm
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Mike,

There's two ways to look at the situation you've presented, which you summed up fairly succinctly. On one side of the coin, being in the top (whatever) for prospects is better than the alternative, and Brad Underwood did land some talent in the 2018 class even if it took until spring to add to Ayo Dosunmu.

On the other, it makes for more disappointment among the fan base after recruiting misses (of which there have been plenty of the last several years). Underwood's recruiting strategy leads to many more offers out than the previous coaching staff. That inflates everything else. More offers means more opportunities to be in a recruit's final list and more chances those recruitments end with the player choosing somebody else.

 

 

Scott Richey wrote on August 08, 2018 at 1:08 pm
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Had a football question via Twitter ...

From @coloradojimw: If the QB transfer from Va Tech doesn't start, Illini will be in same boat as last year with freshmen at QB. Correct? They have a chance to win 5 games with a vet at QB.

Illinois will find itself in a quarterback competition again next season probably no matter how things shake out this fall (even if AJ Bush does look like the clear No. 1 right now). Once Bush exhausts his final year of eligibility, Illinois will still have Cam Thomas, MJ Rivers, Coran Taylor and Matt Robinson angling for the job ... with Isaiah Williams in the mix in 2019. Another training camp, another quarterback competition. The fact this year's freshmen could play up to four games and still redshirt (count on this to happen) will at least give them a leg up come the 2019 camp.

Scott Richey wrote on August 08, 2018 at 1:08 pm
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Did have one more question via email from regular chat participant IlliniFanSinceTheSpoon, but it became the victim of timing. Wondering about what a Kahlil Whitney commitment for Illinois would mean in landing some other big gets in the 2019 class became moot given he just committed to Kentucky. To answer it, though, I would have said a Whitney commitment for the Illini could have produced some recruiting momentum. Talented players want to play with other talented players.

Anway, that's the end of this week's chat. Thanks to everyone that submitted questions or followed along, and be sure to check out all of our coverage from Illinois football training camp in the next week-plus.

The chat will be back next week. Same time, same place. Until then, enjoy the week!

 

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