Oct. 12 Illinois basketball, volleyball & football chat

Oct. 12 Illinois basketball, volleyball & football chat

Friday, October 12, 2018 - 12:30pm

The run up to the 2018-19 college basketball season is in its final month. Big Ten basketball media day is Thursday, and Illinois' season opener is right around the corner on Nov. 8 against Evansville. How will the mostly new Illini look in the early part of the season? What's the potential growth moving forward? When will Brad Underwood get his first 2019 commitment? Beat writer Scott Richey will answer any and all Illinois basketball questions in addition to all the Illini volleyball and football questions you might have in his weekly chat starting at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm
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Good afternoon everybody. Thanks for waiting until Friday for this week's chat — although I didn't really give you an option. Spending yesterday in Rosemont for Big Ten basketball media day meant I had a lot of things to take care of Wednesday before I left town, and the chat was the only one of them I could move to today.

Anyway, you've waited long enough. Let's get to it ...

Amomynous wrote on October 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Scott:

I just listened to the Inside Illini Basketball podcast and I don't think Jim Rossow mentioned that you managed to sneak Nevada into the Sunday college basketball page again. Did it make you smile as you typed it?

I'm curious as to what kind of money these Illini playing in Europe can make?

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm
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Anonymous,

It's really going to come back and bite me if Nevada isn't as good as I've made them out to be for the last six months, but I still feel safe in saying the Wolf Pack are a legitimate top 10 team. The return of the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline alone makes that case for me.

In terms of the money players can make in Europe, it all depends on the country and the league. Malcolm Hill is playing in the top German league, and while I don't know his contract details specifically he's probably closer to six figures than Jaylon Tate (Finland) and Tracy Abrams (Serbia). Brandon Paul was hauling in six figures in Europe before he got his deal with the San Antonio Spurs, which would have paid him about $1.4 million this year had he not been cut.

Israel's also a good place to play, so Leron Black is headed down a solid path there even though he's in the second league this season. But Black is still making more money in Israel (any) than he would have made in Champaign (none).

 

illiniFL wrote on October 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm

seriously? you rank the illini 12th in the preseason poll?! i mean i'm sure you know more about the conference than i do... but rest assured the illini are going to to be tearing it up this season ;)  we'll be somehwere in the top half i'm certain of :) and at least in the semis of the b10 tourney ;) ncaa this season is a yes :)

 

yes i may have been drinking a bit too much o&b kool-aid ;)  but i'm still shocked at the 12th...

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm
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IlliniFL,

Yes, seriously. I ranked Illinois 12th in the Big Ten preseason poll, which I will point out was higher than the Illini finished when the poll came out earlier this week. Will the Illini be better than that? It's certainly a possibility, but the balance of eight newcomers to four returning scholarship players means no one really knows what this Illinois team will look like on the court. Speaking for myself, I have a better idea of what the rest of the Big Ten might look like given so many teams bring back their rosters mostly intact from a year ago.

Blakester wrote on October 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm

   My good Illini family! I wanna ask you all who are the latest targets for the men's and women's squads in case if they strike out on all their targets? And another thing, who are the key recuits that Shaggy Lovie bringing in to patch up the weaknesses on this team? How can athletics be great again in Champaign if none of our captains able to steer from the iceburg that hit the ship? How will Whitman see this ongoing recuiting drought from all of our teams going forward and will it dictate the reputation of a program year in and year out without nothing to show for on the field or on the court? Good night and peace to all out there!

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm
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Blakester,

Nancy Fahey actually got her first commitment yesterday, but she's still in the hunt for Brea Beal and Klarke Sconiers. After that? I really don't follow women's basketball recruiting enough to know.

On the men's basketball side, Quincy Guerrier and Terrence Shannon Jr. are still the top options on the wing. If neither pick the Illini, I'm not sure who would be next on the list. Maybe another Canadian (Emanuel Miller) or someone that's not even on the radar yet. The big man wish list probably goes Oscar Tshiebwe, Drew Timme, Tre Mitchell, Kofi Cockburn, Jason Jitoboh, Anthony Walker. There's really nobody left after that the Illini have appeared to prioritize.

Probably the key recruit for Lovie Smith is four-star Trinity Catholic linebacker Shammond Cooper, who isn't committing until early January.  Other names of note are three-star wide receiver Ali Jennings (Highland Springs, Va.), three-star offensive tackles Ira Henry (St. Louis), Joacheim Price (Algonquin) and Isaiah Hookfin (Sugar Land, Texas), four-star defensive ends Drake Jackson (Corona, Calif.) and Stephon Wright (Los Angeles), three-star defensive ends Moses Okpala (St. Louis), Keith Randolph (Belleville), Dominic Moore (Chicago) and Dylan Hall (Lancaster, Calif.) and three-star defensive tackle Siale Liku (Oakland)

IlliniFanSinceTheSpoon wrote on October 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Hey Scott,

Shannon to Fla St. Guerrier to Syracuse, my gut feel, what's yours? How did Guerrier's visit go? Is he a one and done talent? Now that the college payoff trials have started, do you see any sanctions coming or will the top teflon programs slough it off as usual? The testimony from Bowen Sr. cocerning the amount of cash thrown around amazed me.

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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IlliniFanSinceTheSpoon,

I'm not sure about Terrence Shannon to Florida State. The Seminoles picked up a commitment from four-star prospect Patrick Williams (a one-time Illinois target as well) last week, and he's really the third wing they've added in the class. I'd say Illinois still has a shot — unless Qunicy Guerrier picks the Illini first (although you might be right about Syracuse). 

I was in New Jersey during Guerrier's visit last weekend so I don't have any firsthand information or observations, but I think it went well. The fact Illinois has told Guerrier (at least as he told me) that they wouldn't be opposed to playing him right away when he enrolls could certainly help close with him. I don't know that I'd say he's a surefire one-and-done player (definitely talented and fits the mold of an NBA wing), but from my conversation with him last week he's only thinking about a one- or two-year college career.

I've heard the NCAA won't do anything until all of the trials surrounding the recruiting scandal have completed. The one going on right now is just the first, so that might not be until 2020. We'll see if the NCAA has a backbone or not. I will point out, though, with all of the programs Brian Bowen Sr. implicated there's no actual evidence. His testimony mainly concerned the type of money Christian Dawkins said teams were willing to give if his son chose them. Said is the operative word there.

Anonymous Jim wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Good morning Scott, Brian Bowen Sr. implicated former Brad Underwood assistant Lamont Evans during his testimony last week in the college basketball corruption trial.  I was wondering why no one has yet to ask coach Underwood about it?

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Jim,

Brad Underwood was, in fact, asked about Lamont Evans yesterday at Big Ten media day. His answer hasn't changed since last fall when Evans was first arrested. Underwood's answer yesterday per my colleague Shannon Ryan since I wasn't there at that moment: "I’m not going to say anything until that right time and all the facts are out there. It’s a federal court case."

Kid Rock wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Scott,                  It looks like we're heading down the back stretch as far as this recruiting class and we'll know where we stand in a few short weeks. Could still be a very good class or we could strike out again. Whatever the outcome, we still need to win with the players we have now, don't you agree?  Have you had the chance to watch any other practices lately?  Your impressions?  Thanks as always for your info. 

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Kid Rock,

I haven't hit an Illinois basketball practice since the football bye week given last week's travel to New Jersey and yesterday's to Chicago which truncated an already packed work schedule. I will be there tomorrow morning, though. My last impression probably wasn't a good one — not a terrific practice just in terms of execution — so I'm curious to see what difference there might be in a couple weeks. I'll have a full rundown of my thoughts and observations from tomorrow's practice in the next "Inside Illini Basketball" podcast.

Anonymous User wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Don't we do chats on wednesday's anymore???

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Anonymous,

Yes, just not this Wednesday. 

Sangman69 wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

How are the Bigs looking in practice? To what extent is Adonis participating?

 

Do you see Dorsey getting playing time against Purdue? Is Jamal Milan healthy?

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Sangman69,

The last time I saw practice (about 12 days ago) Adonis De La Rosa was not doing much at all, but from what I understand he might be closer to a return than originally expected. Anthony Higgs, of course, was in a boot the last time I saw him and doing even less than De La Rosa. In terms of healthy bigs, Giorgi Bezhanishvili looks OK (saw some nice passing from him) and Samba Kane is working to close the gap that missing eight weeks this summer created. Kane runs the floor really well, though, and he's an alley oop finisher. If he could be Illinois' version of Clint Capela — run the floor, finish lobs, rebound and block shots — that's a win.

We'll see if Lou Dorsey gets back on the field against Purdue. It will probably come down to how he practiced with that "how" encompassing everything (knowing the plays and doing all the things the coaching staff wants). Jamal Milan is healthy. Read all about him here.

Arizona Bob wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Do you think that our poor pass rush from the front four can be corrected this year?

It seems that our DL lacks that "quick first step" needed to pressure the QB, the technique to quickly release from OL or the leg drive and arm strength to disengage quickly. It also seems that the loss of Tito Obendigo, along with LB Tre Watson and now Bennet Williams REALLY hurt this defense. Every program has attrition, but rarely does a program lose that many potential starters in one year due to transfer. Do you think we can develp any kind of decent pass rush with this front four this year, or do we need to bring 5 or 6 to get pressure? That would make it awfully tough on our young secondary...

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Arizona Bob,

Can the Illinois pass rush be corrected? Maybe. The Illini certainly have nowhere to go but up considering they're getting so little pressure right now. Illinois was better last week against Rutgers in terms of pressuring the quarterback, but it was Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights could easily go 1-11 this season. That sort of colors the improvements the Illini showed. 

The defensive ends have not really lived up to their speed rush expectations, and the defensive tackles have gotten even less push in the middle. Maybe Jamal Milan's return continues to bolster at least the latter.

In the end, I don't think it matters one way or another what happens with the pass rush. Schematically, Lovie Smith is going to continue to rush four and blitz ever so rarely. I would lean toward blitzing more. Sure that takes a man out of coverage, but I'd say letting a quarterback have all the time he wants in the pocket doesn't help a young secondary either.

Arizona Bob wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Is Cam Thomas still on campus, or has he been able to get a scholarship to play QB elsewhere? It was a shame he chose to leave the program. He really didn't show that he could be a quality passer at this level, but from seeing him run it was clear he was fast and athletic and I believe he could've made a pretty good WR for us, perhaps even starting given the suspensions and injuries...do you know if this was discussed with him?

 

 

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Arizona Bob,

As far as I know, Cam Thomas is still on campus at Illinois. There was no upside to leaving. Classes had started, of course, and it would be easier to find a new football and academic home for the second semester. I don't know if the Illinois coaching staff broached the idea of a position switch with Thomas, but he could still want to be a quarterback and is banking on finding a team that will use him that way.

Effingham wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Good afternoon Scott.  First of all thanks for the chats.  As I long time Illini fan,  I have lived through the highs of our program in the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s. And the lows since the Weber era!   I believe we have the right coach in place that could take this program back to where we all expect it to be,  however it will take some time.  I don’t believe that we all realize how low this program has gotten during the past 5 years.  In my opinion based on little evidence out there,  I do believe that all of people and so call experts are over looking our current roster.  I really believe Brad has found some gems with this new group of kids and that we will surprise a lot of people this year.  I believe we are starting to see talent in our team with more athletic and stronger basketball IQ players.  I believe we have kids on this year’s team including the 4 returning players that want to win and know how to win,  because that is all that they have ever done.  For years,  many of us have stated that we need more athletic players along with a Lucas Johnson type of player, someone whom will give him self up for the team and the ball.  On our current roster do we have that type of grit of a player?  Curious on your thoughts on the overall make up of our team this year! 

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Effingham,

Illinois has certainly hit on the long and athletic type this season. The entire roster is basically long-armed dudes (except for Trent Frazier, but he's got quick hands to make up for it). Just look at Da'Monte Williams. He's 6-foot-3 with a ridiculous 6-11 wingspan. Tevian Jones is also a phenomenal athlete. In terms of gritty players, I'd say there's some of that potential. The guy who stands out to me in that regard right now is Andres Feliz.

Efrem wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Is Underwood and staff worried about the how poorly 2018 basektball recruiting has gone? 

I am really surprised that the 2018 class was fairly strong but the 2019 class is off to such a slow start.

Did the staff aim too high in terms of their targets?

           

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Efrem,

Brad Underwood won't say he's concerned about 2019 recruiting.

But I'll say it. Opinions could shift depending on the decisions Oscar Tshiebwe and Quincy Guerrier make (both would be huge gets for the Illini) but with the early signing period coming and Illinois currently the holders of zero commitments I'd say there's a little concern. Not so much in putting together a 2019 class but in terms of what more recruiting in say spring and summer 2019 would mean for 2020 recruiting. I think the slow start to 2019 can be traced directly to having to put in so much work on 2018 this past spring and summer.

In terms of aiming too high, I don't buy into that. Illinois was seriously involved with guys like Khalil Whitney and E.J. Liddell. Not to mention Tshiebwe, Guerrier and Drew Timme. Those are elite prospects. You can't get them — can't stack talent — unless you try. 

Pogo in Springfield wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Do you think any of the newcomers will surprise and be plus contributors or exceed expectations.   Georgi is my pick in that regard.

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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Pogo,

Giorgi Bezhanishvili is a good pick given he will probably play quite a bit early as Adonis De La Rosa makes his return from offseason knee surgery. My pick, though, is probably one of the least talked about guys on the roster. Even with Trent Frazier and Ayo Dosunmu in the backcourt, I think Andres Feliz will carve out his own key role. Brad Underwood has told me Feliz just does everything right. 

Scott Richey wrote on October 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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That's it for today's chat, which also had some news break in the middle of it. Illinois will play Arizona in a home-and-home series in 2019 and 2020. That's a pretty big deal. The chat will be back next week and back in its usual 12:30 p.m. Wednesday time and space. 

Until then, enjoy the week!