Basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson will have press row to himself when Illinois visits Boston U in an NIT opener on Wednesday. Before he gets to work at the gym, he'll take your questions.
Finally, I'm her eto start the chat. Apologies for being late. I'ma novice at riding trains in Boston. I was supposed to be on the "B" train and made pit stops on the "E" and "C" before I got it all figured out. I'm coming to you from BurgerFi on the campus of Boston University. It's about 500 feet away from Agganis Arena, the site of tonight's game. I'm going to go quick today, so I'll get to it.
How many games do you think Illinois needs to win in the NIT for them to end up in the preseason top 25? IMO, Even with the 3 transfers, Black, and Finke, I feel like they're going to need a semi-final appearance to get some love from the AP. Of course it doesn't mean much in the long run, but this fan base needs something to please them momentarily.Also, do you get the feeling that anyone is going to transfer due to playing time, or is this group likely to stay?
I think at the least, Illinois would have to make a Final Four run here in the NIT to remain on the minds of the voters from around the country to beconsidered for the preseason Top 25. That would get them plenty of television exposure and bring to their awareness that the Illini have three transfers waiting in the wings. Of course it all depends on what happens around the country and how the returning players look in the NIT.
No sense of transfers at this point.
Any word on where the Illini crowd will congregate pre or post game in Boston? We have no Boston alumni Illini club but it would be great to get together with some other Orange and Blue.
Look forward to the game!
I haven't heard from anyone this week about being here. Usually I'll get an email or two from some Illinois fans about a pregame get together, but I've heard nothing leading up to this one. If I hear anything between now and game time, I'll tweet something out.
Due to the renovations, was there ever any effort/thought given to trying to find another venue to provide at least a neutral court game as opposed to playing true road games? I am confident that the Illini can win at BU but the looming potential second round game with Clemson would be less daunting on a neutral court.
Do you have any idea of the level of support from the Illini Nation in the Boston area? You stated in your column that BU averaged less than 1000 for their home games this season...what is the chance that the Illini fans will outnumber the BU fans?
Who are the oddsmakers picking to win the NIT?
Love the chats!
You continue to get your money's worth with your questions.
Here's the deal on playing games elsewhere. If Huff was a viable option for Illinois (it isn't), the game could have been played there. The floor at Huff is currently being taken out and replaced to be ready for volleyball, so that was out. If there was another building in the cities of Champaign or Urbana, then the game could have been played there. Other than that, the NIT wants games on campus or in your city, that's it. No Illinois State (Redbirds are hosting tonight anyway) or anywhere else in the state, for that matter.
Don't have a feel for the crowd at this point, but would not at all be surprised if there were more Illinois fans here tonight than BU. Illinois fans took over in Atlanta for the two games down there this season, though I'm not sure the alumni base here is as strong. I just saw a guy walking down the street in orange Illini gear.
SMU is the favorite at 5-1. St. John's, which lost last night, was 6-1. Illinois is 10-1, behind FSU, Georgetown, Minnesota, Cal, Clemson, La. Tech and Arkansas.
What would be better: A first round loss in the NCAA Tournament or NIT Championship?
That's a tough one. I've gone back and forth, but I lean toward losing in the first round of the NCAAs. Reaching the Dance every year should be the standard for this program and if you get there, you at least give yourself a chance to win it all. Now with this particular group, the extra time together and potentially playing on a big stage at MSG could prove very beneficial, but I think you should want to be in the NCAAs every year.
Who's in Boston covering the game?
Mr. Executive Editor,
It's yours truly, Rob McColley (Smile Politely), Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune) and Aaron Bennett from WCIA.
Thanks for not making me walk here.
When is Illinois elgible for a trip out of the country that they can take like every four years? It seems this would be a perfect time for bonding with five sophomores next year and five incoming players.
A second question, what are the chances that Leron Black is a starter by the end of next season? One last question, shouldn't Hill benefit next year from not having to play power forward at times and getting to play his natural small forward position?
Tony in Baytown Texas
They're eligible for another trip in the Summer of 2015, so at the end of next season.
There's a very good chance he could be starting by the end of the season. It happened this year, just a matter of how quickly he picks things up once he gets here.
And yes, Hill will benefit. Groce has talked about that some, but he'll also benefit from having played the 4 this year, making himself more versatile. He'll probably still see some time at the 4 next year, too, with Rice, Nunn and Abrams all back along with the other guards. He'll go back and forth between the two spots, but he'll just play his game.
Marcus, Good thing it's not baseball season. You might be tempted to go to Fenway Park! Although all the bars surrounding the Fens stay open year round! My question is, with the emergence of some players here at the end of the season and with 5 new players coming next year, what would be your best guess for a starting 5 November of 2014?
My cab driver yesterday was telling me how he had dropped a couple of women off at "Fenway Paahhk" earlier and how the Bruins were "Daaawwwminatin' " right now. I reminded him of the Stanley Cup Final last year. Luckily I was traveling on a flat rate, otherwise he would have gouged me.
Starting five for November? Most likely the five you'll see out there tonight Tracy Abrams, Kendrick Nunn, Rayvonte Rice, Malcolm Hill and Nnanna Egwu. Ther ewill be plenty of competition, particularly in the back court, but those guys have established themselves.
Hey Marcus. What kind of attendance should we expect in this game? Is there going to be a good amount of Illini fans? And could we expect the orange krush to make the game?
They average 962 fans and drew 2,633 for their conference tournament championship game at home and that's with fans from other schools in town. I'd guess somewhere around 3,000, depending on how many Illinois fans show up.
No Orange Krush here tonight.
Marcus, I am one of the far-flung Illini fans who reads nearly every article you write. I also catch a few podcasts and your post-game videos. Thanks to you and the News-Gazette for your coverage.
The venue tonight seems unique - an away gym that is smallish (seats 7,000) and that I assume will be mostly empty. If this team draws fewer than 1,000 for home games, I can't imagine more than 2,000 show up tonight. I will speculate that Illinois has a few dozen fans there. Other than the Stony Brook game a few years ago, can you think of an analgous venue (away, smallish, mostly empty) where the team has played in the past few years?
The only thing that comes to mind is the game at Georgia Tech earlier this season. That building holds a little more than 8,000 and at tipoff, there might have been 2,500 people there and most of them were wearing orange. It did fill up as the game went on and they listed 6,500 or so. I'd say 5,000. That's probably the only thing close to what you're describing that I can recall.
Marcus, Thanks for the chats. You do a great job covering the team.
How does the team feel going into the NIT? The hard work down the stretch paid off.
How far do you see them going? I think a place in the Final Four isn't too much of a stretch as long as the defense stays tough and the offense doesn't get too cold on the road.
Thank you. They feel very good, they were real positive about where they were following that Michigan loss and appear to be pretty hungry going into this thing. The Big Ten tournament gae them confidence.
If they can get by tonight, that next game against Clemson will be real tough, especially at their place. But it doesn't get easier after that as a really good Belmont team awaits. My guess right now: they win tonight and lose a close one at Clemson. I reserve the right to change that based on how well they play tonight. Deal?
Do you think Colbert will get to play during the NIT?
If they run into a situation where they need him or some guys get in foul trouble, sure. Tonight? I'm not sure, Boston isn't very big, so there might not be a need to go deep with the bigs.
If I read correctly that in several years when the renovations are done I believe there can't be any home games until December
so what is there plan ? Not have any home games until than or move them somewhere else on campus ? If renovations fall behind what would there options be ?
if I remember right you can't host games off campus ( unless that's just for tournaments )
That comes into play for the beginning of the 2015-16 season. All those details still have to be worked out and Tom Michael and the athletic department will have to work on a plan with John Groce. I'd guess there would be a Thanksgiving tournament or a preseason event like the NIT or something that where you could play a few games. Maybe play a couple somewhere like Chicago. Don't think Huff will be used.
They would be able to host games at other sites.
Why wasn't this game or a future game moved to or played in Chicago? UC, Allstate, UIC center, Sears, ...
Because it's not allowed. See my answer to Kid's question above.
Thanls for being patient with me. Sorry again for being so late, I've got my Boston Transit directions down now, though. I'm going to finish my lunch and head over to the arena to get ready for tonight's game. I'll get the Live stuff going at about 4:30. Talk to you then.