Loren Tate

Loren Tate

Tate: Early college hoops departures one item on my mind

It will be determined, over time, whether Brad Underwood is successful in the most critical aspect of his Illini coaching duties: How many millionaires will he produce?

Tate: Another bad-stats night appropriate way to end season

Most of the 10 Illini basketball losses away from the Farm this season had a quality that new coach Brad Underwood must address.

The team came out as though suffering from stage fright, fell too far behind and couldn't catch up. That's how the season ended Wednesday night in raucous Orlando.

Tate: Program’s direction altered in final games

It’s a game of inches that we live in.

In what some fans describe as a disaster season, Illinois has won six of its last eight basketball games ... and John Groce was dismissed as a direct result of the two losses.

Tate: Underwood 'a culture guy,' which should thrill C-U

They stand out like beacons of light in the NCAA Sweet 16.

Gonzaga, Butler and Xavier. Fast becoming old faithfuls.

You don’t consider Gonzaga a mid-major any more, not after 19 tournament appearances since 1999, with multiple wins on eight occasions.

Nor should you doubt Butler, even if you can’t explain how the Bulldogs do it (runners-up in 2010 and 2011).

Tate: A whirlwind romance

Josh Whitman didn't confer with Lou Henson about the new Illini men's basketball coach.

But if Whitman had done so, the former Illini coach would have recommended Brad Underwood.

Tate: What is Walker's next move?

Josh Whitman’s dismissal of John Groce, an appropriate move based on the Illini basketball record, was not made without risk.

First of all, it’s unusual for a coach to be fired in the midst of a highly successful recruiting surge.

Those promising prospects now hang in the balance.

Tate: Hill and Co. have fun in opener

Our basketball chat starts soon. Submit questions here

A sad team needed a laugher.

Tate: Will hosts be ready for NIT opener?

What a difference two weeks can make.

March 1 was a red-letter day for Illini basketball.

The Farm was filled to the top row, Leron Black was draining threes, Malcolm Hill was drawing fouls and an inspired Illini team was frustrating Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans en route to a 73-70 win.

Tate: Whitman shows he has what it takes with Groce's firing

John Groce lost too many basketball games.

That’s all. A 37-53 Big Ten record and four straight NCAA whiffs are unacceptable at Illinois.

Athletic director Josh Whitman, who continues to display a maturity beyond his years ­— who said he was too young? — ended days of speculation by pulling the plug Saturday.

Tate: What's gone wrong in Groce era? Far too much

Disappointing! An abject failure!

Based on the record ­— two NCAA tournament victories in 11 seasons — that’s the status of Illini men’s basketball.

And John Groce must accept responsibility for the last five.