Tate: Look familiar?

Tate: Look familiar?

Look out below.

John Groce’s Illini produced a third consecutive clunker Thursday night, never seriously challenging Northwestern in a bewildering 68-54 result at the Assembly Hall. It was the UI’s fifth loss in seven games after a 12-0 start, and the third consecutive double-digit rout.

Concerns for a repeat of Illinois’ 2012 collapse were already developing, but no one could have anticipated how Northwestern would dominate a still-ranked UI squad that carried, at least to this point, strong NCAA tournament hopes.

“Northwestern was efficient offensively and got anything they wanted in the first 10 minutes,” Groce said.

“They were very precise in their execution, and we couldn’t take anything away. We weren’t locked in and they made us pay. Their early shooting was excellent.

“That’s two games in a row that we let our opponent dictate how the game was played. As at Wisconsin, we dug a hole and couldn’t get out. If we continue to defend this way, the result will not change.”

Downward spiral
Go figure. Bill Carmody’s gang improved to 5-1 on the road, this by a team that fell to Maryland, UIC, Butler and Stanford at home and was hammered there by Big Ten rivals Michigan and Iowa.

Illinois, which led the nation in three-point shooting earlier, was an awful 3 for 20 from the arc and is 30 for 126 during a six-game span in which opponents made 48 of 101.

As happened in football, Thursday’s packed house grew surly as the outcome became apparent, and the fans cleared out early as Northwestern continued to out-execute, out-defend and outshoot the hosts. Five Wildcats attained double figures.

Except for senior Brandon Paul, who bagged 21 points, the UI offense barely functioned. Tracy Abrams reached double figures (10) with nine of them coming in the foul-marred closing minutes. Northwestern did not let the Illini back in, converting 26 of 31 free throws.

With nearly 17 minutes gone in the second half, Northwestern led 50-41 without a two-point basket in that span, the Wildcats maintaining their lead via three treys and stern defense.

Slow starting
The first half was shocking — resembling in some ways the Wisconsin misfire — and a disgruntled assemblage became less supportive as the fans derided the officials and grumbled about erratic Illini play. Groce, who also complained bitterly from the bench, drew a technical after halftime.

Fan unhappiness peaked late in the first half when Northwestern freshman Kale Abrahamson broke free to double the score 34-17. A more appreciative audience would have recognized a genuine Northwestern basketball clinic. The Wildcats cut the Illini to ribbons with senior Reggie Hearn sparking a deliberate team approach.

Spurred by four three-point bull’s-eyes at the outset, the visitors never trailed as the spreads mounted from 10-3 to 25-12, and to the halftime margin of 36-21.

At that juncture there didn’t seem to be anything the dazed Illini could do about it. In the half they managed just three assists while committing 10 turnovers. Each team attempted 24 fielders, the Wildcats sinking 13, Illinois eight. Each tried seven treys, Northwestern making five while the long UI slump continued with just one strike.

Tide’s turning
Historically, the Illini have dominated Northwestern. The advantage since 1980 is 56-8. But after the UI romped 70-37 in 2008, the contests have been highly competitive and the Wildcats have won four of the last six.

In 2009, the Illini won 60-59 on Demetri McCamey’s bank and later, in Champaign, 89-83 in overtime.

In 2010, Northwestern prevailed in the only game, 73-68, in Evanston.

In 2011, Illinois breezed at home 88-63 but lost 71-70 at Northwestern.

In 2012, the teams split, with the UI winning 57-56 on Myke Henry’s free throw at :06 and a late block by Meyers Leonard before Northwestern got even at home 74-70.

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.

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tmh2196 wrote on January 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm

So disapointing!  I believe they could be a great team.  The problem is THEY don't.

SEMOIllini wrote on January 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm


There is NO chance this team will make the NCAA Tournament.  They are a one and done 3-point shooting team that has absolutely no inside game.  They were completely out-played by Northwestern, a far less talented team but a team with a high basketball IQ that executed their coach's game plan with perfection.  They ran their offense with great backdoor cuts, made smart passes, and did not make dumb unforced turnovers, while we stood around on offense while someone went 1 on 1 all night and either threw up a brick or turned the ball over.  That we played very poor defense in the 1st half and Northwestern shot almost 50% for the game didn't help.     

Poor, poor 3-point shooting--again, poor free-throw shooting, poor rebounding, and uninspired play = another bad loss.  

Coach Groce---maybe we need to do more driving to the basket, more passing to an open teammate, and more moving without the ball to get open--and maybe even more crashing the boards---it couldn't hurt.  Might be time to expect better and smarter play the whole game than patting them on the back for playing "a lot harder" in the 2nd half.

PortlandIllini wrote on January 18, 2013 at 12:01 am

It was painful to even read this story.  It must have been much worse to watch in person.


JimOATSfan wrote on January 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

The players must just not get it, getting totally outplayed once again, when they are not playing a streetball game and draining threes. Disappointed to have to draw that conclusion.  Most probably good people but it appears they have a low basketball IQ.

peterborich wrote on January 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

Simply Groce!!  

Dudesickle wrote on January 18, 2013 at 2:01 am

    When the same thing happens two years in a row, under two different coaches, you have to assume the players just lack the ability and character to be winnners. When you can't play defense inside or at the 3 point line, or make shots inside or outside, you are not going to win. The Illini have a total of 8 assists in the last two games. It used to please me under Coach Weber to look at a box score and see 22 assists on 30 baskets (example). Going to be a long season. Seems like once we beat Ohio State, that satisfies the players and they quit.

beet547 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 5:01 am

I guess the terrible play wasn't Bruce's fault.

Openmind wrote on January 18, 2013 at 7:01 am

No comment on Weber but as for Groce I'm convinced we have the right guy. He knows what he is doing but is going to need some time to get it done.

Sorry but I gotta bring up football here. As for Beckman, he has no clue, is in over his head and should have been let go. Any person who has been in a hiring/firing position will tell you there are always a few hires that you made the mistake in hanging on to thinking it will work it's way out. This will be Thomas'.

Groce will make us proud once again. Just give him some time!


illini82 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 6:01 am

While the fandom is shocked at another collapse looming these are the same players as last year less NBA bound Leonard so perhaps it's not a shock after all.

For the most part this is the refuse or remnants of Weber-ball. A team made up of so-called athletes but who aren't tough mentally and with poor basketball IQ. A team heavy at the 2 or 3 position but with an average at best PG, a learning but defenseless 5 and below average MVC players at the 4.

It seemed Groce had the riddle of this mentaly disfunctional unit figured out.

Evidently not.

Is your seat feeling a little hotter Mike Thomas?

houstonillini84 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

well to be fair, yes we lost Leonard, but everyone else had another year to develop. Especially for freshmen becoming sophs, thats usually when you see a big step up. We are not seeing that.

I totally disagree about poor basketball IQ, Weber's teams may not have been the most talented but ask any coach or scout and they will tell you that his players were well-coached. People complained  about the motion offense, but that was a godsend compared to the streetball we are seeing this year. There IS no offense. Its a bunch of perimeter guys dribbling, and if they cant beat their man one-on-one, they pass to another perimeter guy who does the same thing. Its a joke. Just like our blocking out on D is a joke. We are consistently getting outcoached in the B10, and you can see that by the way the other team gets better shots, repeatedly, while we settle for long 3's with no rebounds.

We dont have playmakers but thats no excuse for this dysfuntion on offense. A Bobby Knight team would run a shooter off of 10 screens to get him open for a good shot. We barely know what a screen is, and we havent figured out that moving screens arent allowed. I mean, I watch our offense and I have no idea what it is trying to do, and I dont think the players do either. If that were Weber's team doing that, people would be screaming about coaching, but now suddenly its basketball IQ? GMAB.

tonyjb37 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 6:01 am
Profile Picture

Its the players and not the coaches! But these are Weber's bad,bad recruits. This group has always sucked, Coach Groce needs to get his players in here then we will see change but until then we will lose alot more games. Playing the way this team has in the last 6 games, I don't know when or even if we will win another game. We most definetly will not make the tournament this year either but change is on the way, thank God for graduation!!!!!!       :-)

OrlandoIllini wrote on January 18, 2013 at 7:01 am

It's a result of Bruce Weber's recruiting:


2004 Calvin Brock, Shaun Pruitt

2005 Charles Jackson, Chester Frazier, Jamar Smith

2006 Brian Carlwell, Rich Semrau

2007 Mike Davis, Rod Alexander, Dimitri McCamey, Mike Tisdale, Bill Cole, Quinton Watkins

2008 Dominique Keller, Stan Simpson

2009 Griffey, DJ, Brandon, Joe

2010 Myers, Crandall, Jereme

2011 & 2012, rest of current team


The 2005 miracle year resulted in only one recruit who was a player from 2005 & 2006 classes combined (I'll welcome Frazier for any team, any time).

2006 and 2008 were washouts, and 2010 produced one player for a total of two seasons. Kind of hard to improve when even-numbered years from 2006 through 2010 produce a total of one player.

2013 is the result of less than half of one recruiting year by Groce, and 2014 is Michael Finke alone (unless an '11 or '12 class member leaves before all the best '14 players commit elsewhere).

Worse: this situation manages to look good in comparison with Illini football.





Openmind wrote on January 18, 2013 at 7:01 am

Agreed Orlando, bad recruits but Weber admits it as well. My question is this, who will transfer after the season?Langford, Shaw, Henry, Djimbe? With graduation and transfer's (pure speculation on my part) NEXT year will be Groce's team. I like Groce (and being gross) and he will make us proud once again. Might take one more year though.

Moonpie wrote on January 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

Maybe now the cheerelading by the Sleepy Gazoo stops. This team is bad and will slide out of the rankings, which it never deserved. No doubt Oracle Tate will find a way to pin the losses on fans--he called them surly again.

The problem seems to be between the ears of the players. Talent but no grit.

OrlandoIllini wrote on January 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

I hope you will seek professional help for your apparent neurosis.

JDG613 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Moon - Why must you incessantly target the writer, and not the subject of the article? This obsession of yours is tiring, and HAS to be some kind of psychosis on your part.  I look in the paper every day, awaiting the article about the SWAT team that stormed a house to find a basement room with pictures of Loren Tate covering the walls, and written in red lipstick on the bathroom mirror, "Die Oracle!!!"

tntsher wrote on January 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

One more cause & effect to consider. "CHIEF" danced his last dance 2/21/2007 and basketball AND football programs have steadily declined. The 07/08 BB season was atrocious with the 1st losing season in years and a 3-13 B1G record good for 9th in league!! Somehow (mostly do to players at least having HEART) the 08/09 team had a respectable season in what was a very weak B1G that year but still lost 1st rd NCAA game to VCU! It has been a very quick, slippery slide ever since.

Might I suggest that we tell the NCAA & other pc police to put political correctness where the "sun don't shine" and bring back the "CHIEF" for a season and see the excitement and heart come back to the ILLINI.

This is only partially tongue-in-cheek!    

Illini Drumline Guy wrote on January 18, 2013 at 8:01 am



totally agree and thanks for detailing the recruiting class......Weber has his KSU team playing well....no one disagrees about his coaching skills.....he was fired due to bad recruiting. The Big Ten is a very physical league, loaded with talent. The Illini just lost, what on paper, appeared to be the most winnable game on the schedule less the Penn St game at home.

The NCAA is out of the question. NIT requires a .500 record....which could be a problem.

Quick comment on football....I like the new offensive coordinator....has college experience, has had success, and the co-coordinator set up is dropped....

Both programs will take 3 years to rebuild....Like Groce, Beckman will require some time to recruit.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

The offense is a joke. It creates nothing. We pass the ball on the perimeter moving away from the basket, dribble a bit, and pass to another guy on the perimeter who does the same thing. If we cant beat our man one-on-one we settle for a long 3. We dont in any way break down the defense, while at the same time the other team consistently breaks down our defense and gets much better shots.

Dont tell me that has nothing to do with coaching. Dont tell me that the failure to block out on D has nothing to do with coaching. These things are very teachable skills. You cant make a kid faster or taller, but you can make sure that they run an offense the right way, and block out on D.

As far as Groce being the right guy, how could we possibly know that yet? He has shown me nothing with respect to coaching. I hear about a positive vibe in the locker room, well hey how is that working out in terms of on the court results? We are not just getting beat in the B10, we are getting humiliated. Tell me that Carmody isnt getting a lot more out of his players than Groce gets out of his.

Now it may be true that Groce will recruit better. BUT, he had better recruit a good PG, and fast. He can recruit scorers and rebounders, but we need playmakers too. That is what killed us last season after Sam's injury, and its what is killing us this season. Our assists/points ratio is terrible. Getting a 2 star recruit from Chicago isnt the answer. If he doesnt bring in a good PG in this next class, we are in deep trouble, because even if he gets one later, it usually takes a year for a PG to develop and play well, and while Groce will get another year for sure, and probably a 3rd, if we dont win, he wont get a 4th.


fhjohnsonjr66 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

This team is loaded with players who simply do not have the desire to win.  This group of players has done the same thing 3 years in a row, start off strong, ande then fold under adversity.  At this point in the careers they should be consistently  hitting the three point shots and they don't.  Move on graduate this group and find some real players.

illinifaningeorgia wrote on January 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

This team is nothing if not erratic. 

I don't think that the overall lack of talent is the answer to our recent poor performances, although we definitely have none in the middle. 

If we had no talent, how do you explain the W's against highly ranked teams like Gonzaga, Butler, and Ohio State?  Maybe the problem is motivation, concentration, and preparation against everybody else?

DaisyJ wrote on January 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

Everyone, sing along to the John Lennon Hit "Imagine"  (new words below)

Imagine all the players, shooting only two's......bump bumpa...

Well, all you three point shot lovers, how do you like it. Like rewarding kids to shoot the three point shot do you. Ha Ha.  Has ruined the game, has ruined kids play. Just what are the players's signature moves today, the three?? Hardly. Kids are unskilled and games like last night prove it. Sure, we play one on one all night and that is a big problem, but if we would have tried to take only good 2 point shots, we still would have won. DUH.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

sorry but when we took 2 point shots, we missed too. Its not a 3 point versus 2 point issue, its a bad shot versus good shot issue. We are not breaking down defenses and getting good shots. They are shooting 3's because thats what the offense gives them - long, guarded, low percentage 3's. The system on offense is a complete joke, unworthy of the B10.  

DaisyJ wrote on January 18, 2013 at 11:01 am

your funny, you think 20 two point shots close in vs 20 from three that missed would not have made a difference. Get overyourself. Pay attention. You have no standing. Discover the facts.

It is 20 attemtps with no change to rebound, no chance to get fouled , no C H A N C E.

Get with the program. The three point shot is not what you think it is. You have been sucked into the sreaming announcer yelling three as if it were a drug and you are on it, hooked. Stop with this nonsense. And do not tell me the we have no inside game. How do you know, we never try it now do we. N e v e r....Guess what it is there and gets better if we tried it.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

What is wrong with you? We have taken more 2 pointers than 3 pointers. We dont take more mainly because we create nothing with our offense. We dont try the inside game much because Egwu doesnt post up and cant hold position if he does. We had trouble enough feeding Leonard last year and this year we have nothing like Leonard. Our only way to get to the bucket is by a perimeter player beating his man, the offense creates nothing. No inside passing, no dishes, nothing (well, next to nothing). This isnt a theoretical exercise in which is better, the 2 or the 3, its a matter of taking the best shot we create and right now we arent creating squat. Personally, I dont care which kind of shot we take, AS LONG AS THEY ARE GOOD SHOTS. A good open 2 is fine, as is a good open 3. The problem is, we arent getting those.

DaisyJ wrote on January 20, 2013 at 9:01 am

I did not say we take more than 3's than 2's, I said we need to stop taking any three's.

?As  for feeding the inside, that is coaching. 5 ways to score from the post--

jump hook

quick turnaround

up an under

fake, fake again

lean and fade

These kids can learn. Jr.High kids can learn. They learned the wrong things, they can learn the right things. Not that hard. Called practice.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

'stop taking any 3's'

while we're at it, lets just put peach baskets up there like in Daisy's good ole days.

Seriously, get a grip. Like it or not, the 3 point shot is here to stay, and any team that doesnt shoot 3's is not going to be able to compete with those that include it. Good, open 3 point shots are an important part of any pro or college offense. The problem isnt that we shoot 3's, the problem is that we take bad shots. You act like the defense is just going to let us pound the ball inside??? The problem is that we CANT get good shots for whatever reason, be it lack of playmakers or a bad offensive scheme or whatever, and we are forced to take poor shots because its all we can get. Personally I dont care if we shoot 2's or 3's as long as we try to break down the defense and get good open shots. Jeeze you sound like some dude from 1949. Next you will be telling us to take more set shots, LOL.

DaisyJ wrote on January 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

I know, I know, not to shoot any three's would hurt your entertainment value. I am more interested in doing what is right, and trying to win.  Seriously, i know it is here to stay, does not mean it is the best thing to keep doing. My gosh, the rebounding all improves, the fouling out of the defense, the shooting percentage, all greatly improve shooting the correct shot. Why do we shoot any 2 pointers, going on your theory.Why, we do , but why. Why not just shoot all three's. You know why, because the 3 ain't a good shot most of the time. Never going to break down any defense if we shoot the 3. And, the dude's from 49, they could score, run, dunk, fake, fade, up and under, the whole game. The kids today are just quick muscles without any signature moves.

What is Griffey, Richardson, EGwu's , what are their signature moves. You see somewhat of a signature move in Abrams and Paul, when they drive and fade off the short bank shot, but that

is it. Leonard had NONE. The three is not a move. Every true scorer has a couple of signature moves. But there are few since the 3 came to be. Accept it, NOt fun to watch the game of horse called the 3 ball.

mankind wrote on January 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I agree. Illinois does not have good enough perimeter shooters to justify 20-25 3-point attempts per game. The 3-pointer cannot be the basis of any offense unless you have the likes of Larry Bird. If the big guys can't handle the heat in this conference, the Illini at least need to set some effective screens and create openings for 12-15 foot jumpers instead of guys playing one on one ball to launch a 22-foot jumper. This is crazy.

Bear8287 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

 As Sentinals head coach Jimmy McGinty (played by Gene Hackman) says at the end of the movie (The Replacements), “When the replacement players for the Washington Sentinels left the stadium that day, there was no ticker tape parade, no endorsement deals for sneakers or soda pop or breakfast cereal. Just a locker to clean out and a ride home to catch. But what they didn’t know was their lives would be changed forever. Because they had been part of something great, and greatness, however brief, stays with a man. Every athlete dreams of a second chance; these men lived it.”

This group of Illini players are getting their second chance right now. Believe me, no matter the outcome, either way, however this season finishes it is going to stay with them the rest of their lives...

What do these Illini need to get back into the game? "Miles 'n miles of heart."


calvin wrote on January 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

the most disturbing thing, to me, is that we were absolutely run out of the gym to begin the game against the two most historically exacting Big Ten programs............why?....players, coaching, or both?...............but really, unready to play a limited Northwestern team at home?.............

aaeismacgychel wrote on January 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I said this last year and I'll say it again this year- the lack of performance we're seeing wasn't/isn't because Bruce Weber was a bad game coach. Listen, I know we blamed him for a lot, but he did try and he worked hard. You give Bruce Weber 7 guys who are self-starters and willing to do all the little things it takes to win a game and he'll take those kids to the Sweet 16 and beyond every single time. Of that I don't have a doubt. For whatever reason he got away from recruiting those kids, and instead of picking up guys like Chester Frazier who what he lacked for in offensive skill, he made up for in defensive intensity, leadership, and heart who fit his system, Bruce chased after the highly regarded silver spooners. Those who had the athleticism or talent, but not the drive. Players like Shaun Pruitt, Jereme Richmond, and Tyler Griffey. And because of that, we fell and we fell hard. Weber you see wasn't able to coach these guys. He was never a motivator. His pre-game speech would never fire you up, but if you had 7 guys who didn't need their coach to be their own personal pep squad and who would buy in to the system, Bruce Weber was one of the best guys you could have on that sideline.

That all said, it of course was time for Bruce to go. The fans and the AD quit on him, the team gave up, and he gave up. He phoned it in after the Nebraska game and seeing what happened. Seeing how his players flat out decided not to play. And that was it. Groce is in a similar situation. He is a much better motivator. He is far more fiery and can give a heck of a speech if not be a better X's and O's coach. But to get Illinois back to where we want it, perhaps that is what we need right now. He has to get hard playing recruits and skill at the PG and PF position if not the C as skilled centers are hard to come by. And if he recruits well, and gets players to perform in his system, Illinois can get back to that level where they are perennially competing for Big 10 Titles.

For all the very unfortunate frustration laced bile undeservedly thrown at Weber over the past few years where he was criticized for anything and everything, where even wins were losses in the fans eyes, he was a great coach to have on the court. He was simply born in the wrong time. During the 50s thru 80s when players were more apt to come out of high school not lacking for motivation and would work hard, Weber could've been one of the best in the nation. He likely would have had perennial contenders for National Championships. But in this day and age... He's a relic who just doesn't understand the modern athlete. He can't help them because they don't understand that talent and athleticism are only 50% of the game at best. They don't have the drive someone like Lucas Johnson had. And Weber can't help them with that. Groce though can. And hopefully in years to come he will. It's sad to see a coach like Weber fall because he really doesn't deserve it. But coaches like him or Keady or Knight or Bo Ryan don't have as much a place in the modern era. They're remnants of the old guard- coaches who you just wonder how they win without stars, but who won't be able to gain championships. It's a shame but it's life.

I think in this hire we went in the right direction with Groce. Hopefully it pays off. But for the time being, this is just painful.

DaisyJ wrote on January 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Sorry, Bruce was not a great coach. He controlled things so much that he never developed

any big men. They kept the score down because of the shot clock. The kids Groce has coming will help things immensly. The big guys are tearing up their leagues this year and will be a big

difference in a couple of years. Paul and Abrams are not team players, and Griffey is a big man bust. Griffey goes into the games thinging make 3's instead of how many blocked shots and rebound he can get. He is miguided. If you ask Groce and he could level with you he would tell you he is soft, and player that is obsolete in what he can do on a floor.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

"he never developed any big men"

Funny thing, Bruce Weber was at the NBA draft with Meyers Leonard, a mid/high first round pick.

At least if you are going to say something really dumb, say something that cant be refuted with evidence from half a year ago. Make us work a little harder than that, ok?

DaisyJ wrote on January 20, 2013 at 9:01 am

Was hoping you would bite on this also catfish. Hey, if you think Leonard is a developed big men, I am not talking about his muscles, I am talking about his skill. NOt there, nada, no how now way no nothing. If he was somewhat skilled as a big man he would still be here. He is a flop in the NBA because he is a project.

I can name you 20 former big men that were 5 times more skilled and productive offensively that have played at the u of I then Lennie. Go look at Skip Thoreen's numbers, Bill Burwell, Deon Thomas. I can go on.  Weborn was a hold ball clock running out chump that whined like a 4 yr. old. What did you expect from a Gene Keady diciple.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

if you dont think Leonard improved dramatically between his freshman and sophomore years, you are as blind as you are ignorant. And by the way he is the first guy off the bench in Portland, playing about 15-20 mins a game. Which isnt bad for a young true center in the NBA. He is certainly not a bust.

Anyway, it sounds like you have a real future as a basketball coach... if you can find a time machine and go back to the 1940s. Or maybe you could be the psycho coach for some unlucky youth team and how the kids how George Mikan used to do it.

Oh, and by the way, Deon Thomas had 4 years in college to improve. Meyers had two. Deon Thomas as a soph was a lot different than Deon Thomas as a senior. And if Deon Thomas were really 5 times better than Meyers, Deon would have been in the NBA and Meyers would be playing overseas.

DaisyJ wrote on January 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

Leonard was a nothing offensively,  7'1 an no offensive moves. NONE. Read the blogs in Portland, he is  first round Bust. Deon Thomas was a handful from day 1. You would know this if you would have seen him.

As for Mikan, well they did shoot the same shot of today , the 3 ball, was called the set shot and trust me , if you look at old films they look a lot alike. LEONARD was NOT someone anyone got upset about when he left, end of story.

aaeismacgychel wrote on January 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Considering where Meyers Leonard started, it's hard to say Weber wasn't helping develop him. Think where Jeff Withey started. Meyers was having similar progression. Now look at 2 star Mike Davis, or Mike Tisdale. They certainly improved from when they came in the door. The biggest issue with all the bigs Weber recruited wasn't that they didn't have a signature move, it's that every single one of them were soft and only maybe maybe Mike Davis would actually try crashing the boards and boxing out. Let's go through the names:

Shaun Pruitt
Warren Carter
Brian Randle
Mike Davis
Mike Tisdale
Jereme Richmond
Tyler Griffey
Myers Leonard
Nnanna Egwu

How many of those players screamed "crash the boards" or "get the loose ball" to you? Shaun Pruitt should have been a monster. Didn't have the drive. Davis and Tisdale? Undersized but at least Davis fought hard some nights. Warren Carter or Brian Randle? Well they had skills, but certainly weren't the best at crashing the boards. Griffey? LOL. No desire to get rebounds. Richmond? He got boards when he wanted to play. Egwu? Very young with bad fundamentals but does show a lot of heart and activity. Leonard? Well, finally, you have 1 who would do his part on the boards when he wasn't fouling out. The thing is, if a player doesn't have the heart or energy to go after rebounds, you can't force them. That's something you should have coming out of high school.

It'll not like Bill Self taught Roger Powell or James Augustine to rebound. They knew how to coming in. You don't teach rebounding in college. What you teach is positioning and refining those fundamentals. Those are fundamentals you should have coming in if you're a big. You don't magically stroll in freshman year with no ability or drive to rebound whatsoever and poof, Coach K or Coach Self or Coach Izzo hits you with a magic rebounding wand and suddenly you're developed. No, those kids were beasts on the boards in high school. Same as Ryan's recruits. They didn't just learn to rebound in college. You can't blame Weber for not developing this skill in the big men, you can blame Weber for not recruiting bigs who had those fundamentals.

DaisyJ wrote on January 20, 2013 at 10:01 am

Sorry, most of the reason the team does not rebound is that they are all hugging the three line.

Make Griffey post up or play under defensively for 40 min. and he will have 10 rebounds. Simple as that. ?There are no rebounds for big people that are under when the ball is shot from three either. The three ball has led to obsolete use of the big man.

DaisyJ wrote on January 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

You are right in how the old coaches would not make much difference. But, that is not a good

thing. The game has changed because kids are brought up not needing a signature move with the dunk and three as their claim to fame. Not much you can do with poor unskilled players, and that is what you have.

snapper wrote on January 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

HoustonIllini -- You are a trip!  What does the fact that the Illini are underachieving right now and that you are concerned with Groce have to do with the fact that Weber trashed Illinois basketball?  What does it have to do with the fact that Weber was an embarrassment and a punchline with the national media?  What does it have to do with the fact that Weber is extremely limited in basic basketball acumen?  Are you actually Bruce Weber?  If so, you were fired for extreme cause four years after you should have been.

aaeismacgychel wrote on January 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I don't think this is true at all. Weber was never a national embarassment or punchline. Never. In fact he was ver well respected by his peers and the media. It's the only reason he was offered a job immediately after the firing at a high major school. He simply was no longer working out here. He was the Illini fans' punchline and answer to every single thing great and small that was going wrong with the program. And considering the successes Weber has had, especially at the midmajor level, it's really hard to say he was extremely limited in basic basketball acumen. You don't get to a National Championship by being a complete moron. You don't get to S16s with midmajors by not understanding the game at all. His issue was not that he didn't understand the game, it's that he doesn't understand the modern athlete. He can't coach the modern athlete. It's a big difference. If Weber was a complete idiot, Kansas St. wouldn't have the record they do right now. Tim Beckman is a national embarassment and laughingstock. There was a big difference between Weber and him. Weber was an embarassment and laughingstock to Illinois fans alone but that is why he is no longer the coach. That's why it was time to move on. Hopefully Groce does better. So unless you are insinuating that Groce too is a national laughing stock and embarassment because he too just like Weber can't win with this team, I think it's time to move on. Weber recruited poorly and we're seeing the ill effects.

snapper wrote on January 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

aaeis -- Respectfully, you need to get out more.  Believe me, Weber was a national punchline if you talked to people around the country that follow and KNOW the game.  He was inarticulate and incomprehesible in his rambling interviews, and that is a very kind way to put it.  He was a jiggling, screeching whiner on the sidelines.  He took ZERO repsonsibility for his failures and went even further by blaming the very players he recruited for his own ineptitude.  That is what losers do in business, in sports, and in life.  He inherited a top ten program and trashed it through poor recruiting AND inept coaching.  I personally did not like the nonmotion, motion offense with a designated shot clock beating heaver.  It struck me as ineffective over an extended sample size.  A zone defense has a place in every coach's available weaponry.  He didn't even have a press!  McClain had to draw one up for him with a few minutes to go at NW a few years ago to bail his butt out of that tactical debacle.  What is that?  Really?!  Come on!  What is the fascination of so many in our fanbase for a guy who did so much damage and then blamed everyone else for it?  It is a psychology that is totally lost on me.  Either that, or we have a very unknowledgable element in our fanbase.  Regardless, you can feel free to continue to believe your emperor's clothes are fab.  The rest of us just know better and don't want to hear about that sad chapter anymore. 

aaeismacgychel wrote on January 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

What's funny is that I've lived the past couple years in Florida and Arizona, and the only states I have heard that Bruce Weber is a punchline is Illinois and Indiana. That's it. In fact most national pundits have had nothing bad to say about Weber other than he lost his team at the Weber experiment was over at Illinois. Most pundits also thought he'd be a very good fit at Kansas St, at least for the short time. Outside of Illinois I haven't heard a single person talk about how he's a coach who throws his players under the bus unless you count Kansas State's McGruder. Every word he said got far more play in Illinois than anywhere else nationally. Nationally the word has always been good coach, bad recruiter of Weber. I'm sorry, if you're that big of a national punchline and embarassment, why would a team that has had high level success recently hire him? It makes no sense.

Now Tim Beckman on the other hand? Do you think if Illinois fired him right now and major program would pick him up? You think Oregon would interview him? No, because he is a National laughingstock. So much so, random people have asked what the heck is wrong with our coach.

Bruce Weber being an unknowledgeable buffoon who has 0 basketball IQ and couldn't coach his way out of paper bag who brought shame on the entire university is a fabrication constructed by frustrated Illini fans. But, based on that he did indeed fracture and destroy the fanbase so you are partially right. Bruce Weber can coach fine. He failed at being able to recruit players who he could successfully coach. It's really as simple as that. Almost every single piece of news you hear outside about Bruce Weber is positive. Inside the state though that's far from the truth and the majority of Illini fans started thinking of him as the Anti-Christ and the devourer of small children simply to fuel their fire. He was nowhere near that, and he will almost certainly fail in the long run at KSU for similar reasons he did at Illinois, but he can coach players who want to play. He's clearly proven that to everybody but Illinois fans.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Thats absolutely not true. I live in Texas and therefore get a more national perspective than those living in the CU-Chicago area, and whenever I heard Bruce Weber mentioned, it was with respect. Class guy, class coach, knows how to coach. The only criticism I ever heard was that he didnt recruit well enough, but even that was muted, ie, that he was a decent recruiter just not a really good one.

Also, you may not have noticed, but Kansas State has only lost two games and is ranked 16th. If he is such a bad coach, one would think KSU would be struggling. Instead they have been winning close games. And they certainly arent getting blown out at home by Northwestern.

You also mention the motion offense, but hey, compared to our offense in the B10 season, that motion offense was golden. Right now we dont have an offense, we roll the balls out and let them go at it, playground style.

illini7074 wrote on January 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm

houstonillini84 says....

" I live in Texas and therefore get a more national perspective than those living in the CU-Chicago area."

What!  What does living in Texas have to do with acquiring,"a more national perspective?" Does that mean more access to insider information, better and faster internet service, newspapers with in depth detail about various collegiate programs?  I didn't realize Texas was the center of the universe.  If we all lived Texas, maybe we would be just a little better informed.

And, for all of the Weber lovers, he inherited this Kansas State team, as he did at Illinois.  After the former coach's players graduate or leave the program, Bruce will be with his own recruits.  We'll see how long he lasts with his recruits.  A year or two and he will be on to another program.

As others have pointed out, Groce has Weber's recruits.  Most of them are finally near completion of their eligbility.  They have failed for Weber and are in the midst of another dismal finish to the season under Groce.  Because of the similar collapses, it tells me, the players are not capable and are not strong enough to compete in the Big Ten.  It boils down to recruiting and we'll soon see if Groce's incoming class has the skills as well as internal fortitude to compete.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 19, 2013 at 1:01 am

The point is that people in Chicago and CU see a ton of local media coverage that most of the country does not see. Therefore when people down here talk about the Illini, its usually based on a more national perspective, ie, the national media. Illinois doesnt get talked about a lot, but when they did cover Illinois Hoops, I never heard negative things about Weber. When they interview coaches and scouts and his name came up, it was in a positive sense.

Likewise, if we wanted to talk about the national view of UT or TA&M, folks in Chicago would have a more national perspective because down here in Houston we are inundated with local media coverage of those teams. And the local media knows that a large part of their audience is the Longhorn and Aggie fan base which tends to bias their perspective somewhat. Its hard to get a feel for how the nation as a whole views the Texas college programs because most of what we hear is fed to us through local media. For example, I would bet a lot of money that Chicago's view of Matt Schaub is different from Houston's, and that Houston's perspective of Jay Cutler is different than in Chicago. I've seen this first hand because I am a St Louis Rams fan, and when I hear people talk about Sam Bradford down here in Houston, it sounds very different than what you would read on StL Today's Rams forum. Likewise the view of Lovie Smith down here is a lot different than what I heard from Bears fans.

I thought this was pretty obvious but I guess it eluded you so they you go.

As far as what happens to Bruce Weber at KSU, who knows? Maybe he will recruit well, maybe he wont. But you werent just talking about recruiting, you were saying that he is downright a bad coach, and that is not at all what most informed basketball people think. Just the opposite, he is very well regarded among coaches, especially when it comes to Xs and Os and such. Maybe Groce will be a better recruiter - lets hope so - but I am not at all impressed by his Xs and Os so far, because this offense is a joke. Its hard to even call it an offense, it looks like a bunch of guys playing streetball. And the defense has really deteriorated in B10 play, teams are breaking us down and consistently getting good looks.

People said Weber's motion offense was the problem and that we needed a coach that implemented a system that fit their abilities. Fair enough. But all of a sudden now I am hearing that the players have no abilities and that its all in their heads and no coach can fix it. That sure as hell wasnt what I was hearing last year from the people that wanted Weber fired.

patrick wrote on January 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

As I read many of these mostly good-intentioned comments, I see debates that don't get to the heart of the problem. To me, it isn't 3 pt. vs. 2 pt. (although I really hate the 3 pter), Weber vs. Groce, motion offense vs. ...What I see is largely the same group as last year. This is the same group that lacks basketball character, aka. mental toughness; the same group that has little interest or idea as to how to play together as a team; the same group that might be good in 3 on 3 playground ball, but will never cut it in the B10. Many (most) of these guys may simply be uncoachable. If a kid believes that he alone has the answers, there's little a coach can do. I remember a player on one of the early UCLA teams named Edgar Lacey. EL was a playground/HS legend and he thought he knew more than Coach Wooden. No matter what Wooden did, EL thought his way was better. In the famous Astrodome game against Houston, EL repeatedly ignored Wooden's instructions. Wooden benched him. EL pouted and never became anything in basket ball. So, now, after 2 coaches and 2 systems, this group is coming up with the same result. It isn't the coach;it isn't the system...it's the players. Most of them are uncoachable. THEY are the ones who should be fired.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 19, 2013 at 1:01 am

I keep hearing its mental. Maybe it is, who can say for sure? But isnt it even possible that its physical? We dont have playmakers. We dont have good rebounding. Our offense does not create good looks - most of our easy baskets come from one-on-one play. I saw a stat that said we are 79th in the nation in scoring, but 300th in assists. Thats just awful. It means guys are not creating opportunities for others. I dont think its a coincidence that our offense started to crater last year when Sam got hurt, because he was our best playmaker. We had a stud center but had trouble feeding him. Now maybe its mental because guys could run the offense but dont, but isnt it more likely they just plain CAN'T? they just dont have that skill set, especially at PG. Now we are playing better competition, very well coached, and they are eating us alive out there. And we arent just losing at home, we are getting blown out.

tntsher wrote on January 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

                                             C H I E F !!!!!!

illinifaningeorgia wrote on January 20, 2013 at 11:01 am

This team is not underachieving.  In the pre-season, they were a consensus pick for 9th place.  Although it is still early, they are pretty much living up tp expectations.

The problem is that they are playing in the toughest conference in the country (at least this year).  Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State are pretty much the class of the conference, tying up the top 6 spots, not only this year, but seems like every year.  Nebraska and Penn State are the bottom feeders.  That leaves Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, and Iowa to fight it out for positions 7-10.  As I mentioned in a previous post above, we're not without talent, since we beat 3 highly ranked teams.  We're just not good enough to win in the B1G.


houstonillini84 wrote on January 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm

deleted, double post

DaisyJ wrote on January 21, 2013 at 11:01 am

All of you, do you ever think about this. What is with all the centers and forwards coming out and setting picks at the top of the key. What is with that. Big me should be under getting their man set on their hip. How much energy is needed to go do this stupid picking. What is the real advantage. It actually hurts the offense. No rebounds when they are out there, no put back, no nothing. Waste of time. But, is constantly done by teams that have big men that cannot play low post. Whats up with that. SNL. No wonder no big men score much today. No points awarded to pick someone. And, when it is planned, for everyone to see, it has very little value. A last min. set pick is 10 times more valuable than this motion they go through to do what, show they can set a pick. If I were a center, I would tell you get me the ball under the basket, and screw your pick. The pick only encourages drives and with our guards, they never dish. Wake up Groce.

Amen wrote on January 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

This team needs our support and not the give up attitude that is being heard.   Coach Groce has done well with them.  Yes, the competition in the B10 is also consistently good.   Losing at Wisconsin is not unusual for any team.  Northwestern's offense also consistenly drives other teams nuts.  Other teams do have confidence right now that they can come to the AH and win if they play hard.  That is the first barrier that needs to go.  Win at home consistently.  If UI does that then they will be competitive in other venues as well.  Defense is the key.  In the first 12 wins how many points were scored off of turnovers.  That may be a key statistic to know.  Sure we were struggling with rebounding but their were many steals and such that contributed to our wins and probably raised our shooting average.

DaisyJ wrote on January 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm

At $35 per ticket, this team is getting the full support win or lose. And, just ask these kids about confidence, they never lose it, have it even when they are not playing good.