Dec. 7 Illinois basketball & volleyball chat

Dec. 7 Illinois basketball & volleyball chat

Friday, December 7, 2018 - 4:30pm

The Illinois men's basketball team plays twice this week — Wednesday against Ohio State in Chicago and Saturday at home against UNLV — as it tries to pick up its first win of the season against a high major opponent. The Illini volleyball team might also have two more home dates on its schedule. One for sure with Friday's Sweet 16 showdown with Marquette and then a possible Elite Eight match against Wisconsin or San Diego. Care to wager on the Toreros having some serious supporters at Huff Hall wearing orange and blue?

Beat writer Scott Richey will be there every step of the way. Before (most of) those games, bombard him with all your Illini-related questions in his weekly chat moved to 4:30 p.m. Friday to accomodate Wednesday's trip to the Windy City and Thursday's NCAA volleyball coverage bonanza.

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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This week's chat is finally happening. It's been a busy week between Illinois volleyball and basketball coverage, so I had to push it off a couple days, but now that I'm done with my Sweet 16 coverage (and almost done with the preview for tomorrow's basketball game), it's time to chat.

Let's get to it ...

Anonymous User wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the chats.  I have a few questions regarding women’s basketball.  What’s up with Coach Kirkland?  She was absent on Saturday.  Why aren’t J. Kirkpatrick and Nancy P. playing?

Keep up the good work!

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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Anonymous,

Between Illinois volleyball and men's basketball, I'm pretty much out of the loop on Illini women's basketball, and I haven't even covered the women's team full time since the 2016-17 season. Best bet for you is to send an email to our copy editor/designer turned beat writer Joe Vozzelli. His email is jvozzelli@news-gazette.media. He'll be able to help you out because I have no idea.

love the illini wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm

While I realize the poor record has hurt recruiting do you believe there are other factors that are effecting Illinois recruiting? Indiana has went through two recent down cycles and turned things around immediately by getting in elite recruits after poor seasons. It looks to me that players now see Illinois as nothing more than a perinial bottom half of the Big 10 program. How does Illini sell the program to get recruits here so that things can turn around or do we just hope that  mid major caliber recruits develop once they get here?

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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love the illini,

Indiana probably isn't a great comparison to Illinois' situation. The Hoosiers fired Tom Crean a year after they won the Big Ten and reached the Sweet 16. It was his inability to recruit the state of Indiana that did him in. Meanwhile, Illinois hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2012-13. It's apples and oranges.

It's the proverbial chicken and egg situation for Illinois. Can't get enough top recruits without winning. Can't win without enough talent. It takes more guys like Ayo Dosunmu to say yes, and Illinois does have to hope its evaluations of guys like Giorgi Bezhanishvili (so far a yes) and Alan Griffin (so far a maybe) pan out.

Bwp5p wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Yo Scott,

While I realize the Illini are aggressive, what I noticed at Nebraska, when we got shoved and bumped and mugged going to the basket........we rarely got a call. It's beginning to resemble the NFL! What IS pass interference....what IS a foul? I have no issues with making the game a boring, free throw shooting event (actually I do.......nobody enjoys a game like that).......I'd just like to see it be consistant on both ends!

Thoughts?

Bruce

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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Bruce,

I take more issue with the officiating in Wednesday's game against Ohio State than the Nebraska game. Even then, the Illini made the same number of free throws as the Buckeyes and only shot five fewer for the game. Illinois commits a lot of what Brad Underwood and Giorgi Bezanishvili (a main culprit) call dumb fouls. Much too handsy.

The real question mark when it comes to fouls is the block/charge dilemma. The officials in Chicago had no idea what constituted either.

Not Anonymous User wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm

I've seen an announcement about Holesinska's injury in women's BB, but nothing about Kirkpatrick or Andritsopoulou.  Neither has played to the best of my knowledge.  Do you know if they are also injured?

Why hasn't the university announced the committment of Emily Casati in women's tennis?  They have announced the other two commits.

 

Thank you.

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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Not Anonymous,

I'll give you the same answer I did to pretty much the same question about women's basketball. Having not covered the team much since 2016-17 and with all my focus on volleyball and men's basketball, your best bet for Illini women's hoops information is our new beat writer Joe Vozzelli. You can email him at jvozzelli@news-gazette.media.

When it comes to women's tennis recruiting, that's even more of a stretch for me. One reason there's been no announcement could be that Emily Casati is a walk-on. Women's tennis gets eight scholarships and is a head count sport meaning there's no splitting of the scholarship money. If she is a walk-on (I don't know for sure) Illinois can't talk about her officially until she enrolls.

Mr. Illini wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Scott,

Do prospects for the the downtown arena get a boost from the Volley ball playoffs  as the movers and shakers can envision how things would play out if the arena was in place. Everything from the downtown atmosphere buzzing with hotel, bar and restaurant options to a state of the art arena with plenty of available parking would make for a special event. Haven't heard much on the arena lately but I think it would be as big for volley ball, gymnastics and wrestling as hockey. Are you hearing anything?

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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Mr. Illini,

The only way a downtown arena gets built in the near (or semi-near) future is if it's accompanied by a hockey team. Before hockey became a possiblity at Illinois there was some discussion about a new facility for volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling, but I don't think that went further than the "let's talk about it" stage. 

Huff Hall has its old school appeal, but match logistics are getting tougher. Parking is a real issue (although the bus service is helpful), and the sight lines in the upper part of the arena are less than ideal in several places. A new facility could address those.

But I think it would still be tied to hockey right now. Josh Whitman said this summer that there would be some possible movement on hockey at the start of the new year, but since that's in less than a month I think the potential timetable has been pushed back a bit.

Personally, I think a downtown arena would be good. It's already a vibrant part of town. An arena would only add to that.

IlliniFanSinceTheSpoon wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Hey Scott,

Loyal Illini fan here, but WOW, the Nebraska game stunk, over before halftime. I switched over to the Pickers. Alarming number of foul shots vs Neb., ND too. Opponents drive the basket, reach, hack, to the line. The 3 guard line-up aint cuttin' it! How bout De La Rosa AND Georgi in the game. Any update on T. Jones status.

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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IlliniFanSinceTheSpoon,

Illinois did go with the Giorgi Bezhanishvili/Adonis De La Rosa starting lineup against Mississippi Valley State, but that's not a viable option in my opinion. De La Rosa has not been a good fit so far this season, which results from him being hampered by his knee. Wednesday night he gave up three and-one opportunities to Ohio State's Kaleb Wesson in the 6 minutes he played.

Tevian Jones will not play tomorrow against UNLV. Remains indefinitely suspended. 

Kid Rock wrote on December 07, 2018 at 4:12 pm

With another loss in the books, do you see this team going into a death spiral and finishing with less than 8 wins this season?  Maybe 2 and 18 in Big 10 play?  Wouldn't that virtually kill recruiting?  How can we expect to bring in any decent players with such an abysmal display?  And will we see another mass exodus of players when such an event occurs? 

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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Kid Rock,

If there's no improvement from what the status quo is right now, then, yes, Illinois could struggle to get many more wins than the two right now. While the Big Ten might not have that elite team (although Michigan looks the part defensively), the league as a whole is just super solid. Have to consider the Illini 14th right now.

The current KenPom projections have Illinois finishing 10-21 overall and 5-15 in the Big Ten. The single game projections on KenPom come with this caveat: "Projected record is based on cumulative probabilities of winning each game and may not equal the sum of individual game predictions. I make note of that because KenPom only has Illinois favored in four more games this year (UNLV, East Tennesssee State, Florida Atlantic and Rutgers).

If those projections play out, yeah, recruiting probably takes a hit. Too soon to know if there will be transfers or not. I wouldn't expect the same type of turnover as last year, but I suppose you never know.

Efrem wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm

Hi Scott,

Is Higgs still on the team?  I did not see him last night at the United Center.

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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Efrem,

Saw Anthony Higgs this morning at practice (although he wasn't practicing). So, yes, he's still on the team.

Efrem wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm

Hi Scott,

With the program looking at a worse record than last year and with no officially commits for 2019, I would think Underwood needs to be concerned about his future at Illinois.

my question is when do you think Underwood needs to start showing progress?  I would think by year 3 he had to win more games he will win this year.

For example Lovie, going  from 2 to 4 wins.

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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Efrem,

I would say there needs to be some progress this season from a 2-7 start. There could be if this young team figures out how to not foul so much and also close games. I won't say year three is make or break, but if Illinois doesn't make the NCAA tournament in 2019-20 then Brad Underwood seat's going to be awfully hot.

Of course, given Josh Whitman's tactic with Lovie Smith, Underwood should be due for an extension after next season given he would have just three years left on his original six-year deal.

Kevin H. wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm

This team is 0-7 against legitimate opponents.  It seems that after every game coaches and players say the same thing – they need to sustain their effort, intensity and consistency for 40 minutes.  They can play well in stretches, even for a half, but BU’s system doesn’t seem possible to be successful for an entire game.  I’m not sure if it’s guys getting fatigued but there is a lot of missed assignments, lazy fouls, poor decisions, etc, that lead to easy points.  This may have worked at SFA against those conference opponents, but against superior BigTen athletes and coaches it doesn’t seem to work for an entire game.

When he was at Ok St. he started out conference play 0-6.  He then adjusted his defensive philosophy and eased up on the pressure and they ended up 9-7 in conference and made the NCAA tourney. 

Do we know if he’s using the same system when he started 0-6 or when he finished 9-1 in conference play?  It’s the same issues that plague this team every game and it just seems like they’re spinning their wheels instead of showing any progress.

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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Kevin,

Illinois' defense is the one Brad Underwood used at the start of his tenure at Oklahoma State. He moved to the pack line (what John Groce ran at Illinois) to get the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament. I don't think he's gotten the question yet this year that I can recall (my brain's a little fuzzy after spending the last two days camped out at Huff Hall) but I know I asked him about making the switch last year when Illinois had similar issues. Things would look a lot different if Illinois had a rim protector. Alas, the Illini do not, so the defense remains an issue unless they're forcing a bunch of turnovers and not giving up easy looks.

southern Illini fan wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm

I apologize for the football comment as I am sure basketball and volleyball are your primary focus. What is your take on Lovie Smith as a recruiter? I follow the Illini on Illini HQ and on some of the blog sites primarily Writing Illini. From the Writing Illini on two recent occasions since the season was over I read the coaches are hitting the recruiting trail but no mention of Lovie Smith. Bryce Childress who decommitted but seemed to remain at least interested mentioned he has not heard from any coaches since. Shamond Cooper (I hope I have the name correct from Trinity Catholic) is visiting and although he mentions several coaches involved no mention is made of Lovie Smith. I read in a report how the various coaches have hit the recruiting trail yet no mention is made of Lovie Smith. It seems to me Josh Whitman hired Lovie for his name recognition but wouldn't you think he should take a more active role in recruiting and take advantage of that name if indeed he is not? He may be but it seems if the reports on Writing Illini are true he is a bit detached. Any information? thanks 

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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southern illini fan,

Lovie Smith has been out recruiting. He started out the time between the end of the regular season and the early signing period with some time in Chicago, and he was just in California this week. Still, I don't know if the "name recognition" thing has really paid off for the Illini. At least not yet.

Dave from Paris,Il wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm

What is going on with Samba Kane? A lot of people are saying he's behind and so on, but I don't buy it and nobody seems to know for sure. He showed in the MVSU game enough to make one wonder why he isn't being used more. He's athletic and obviously a guy who can alter a lot of shots in the paint. He moves well in transition, and even showed a beautiful turn around jumper. I know he was in some trouble earlier this year but nothing was ever specified. Any insight you might have on Samba would be greatly appreciated.

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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Dave,

You probably should buy it that Samba Kane isn't ready. He's not. No offense to Mississippi Valley State, but that's not a good basketball team. That did, however, make the Delta Devils perfect to see what Kane could do. The potential is there. Being able to do so against elite level competition probably isn't. His lone bit of playing time against Ohio State did not go well. Granted, he got the ball in a terrible spot, but he's just not there yet.

That said, Adonis De La Rosa isn't exactly giving Illinois much of anything right now. If that continues, the Illini might as well give his minutes (or at least an adjusted amount that probably sees Kipper Nichols at the 5 more) to Kane.

Rushstreet77 wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm

Can you explain the bracket for the Big Ten Tournament? How many teams get double byes - how many get a single bye - etc? I’m trying to imagine where the Illini have to finish to get a single bye? 

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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Rushstreet77,

The top four teams in the Big Ten tournament get a double bye. The next six (5-10) get a single bye. The last four play on the first day of the tournament in what's sort of a play-in round. So Illinois has to finish 10th or better not to be playing again on the Wednesday of the Big Ten tournament.

Scott Richey wrote on December 07, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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That's it for this week's chat. Thanks again this week for being patient for it not being in its regular Wednesday afternoon slot. Plenty of Illini coverage continuing this weekend. Be sure to check out Saturday's N-G for everything from Illinois volleyball's Sweet 16 win and a preview for the men's basketball game against UNLV. I'll be back at Huff Hall tomorrow for more volleyball, and Colin Likas will pinch hit for our basketball coverage. Bob Asmussen will have a football column, too, so we're covering all the bases.

Next week's chat kind of depends on if I'm headed to Minneapolis for the Final Four, so stay tuned.

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