Mike Thomas is doing his best Bond Villain impression. Instead of cutting ties with Tim Beckman quickly like the yank of a Band-Aid, he’s got Beckman tied to a conveyor belt heading towards a buzz saw. I can’t imagine a scenario where Beckman wiggles off and escapes the unemployment line, but I can understand Thomas evaluating whether firing a coach mid-season is in the best interests of Illinois Football moving forward. This week in particular, homecoming against Minnesota (6-1), should provide Thomas with all the evidence he needs for either decision. Continue Reading →
Five-star shooting guard Jalen Coleman announced his intention to play basketball for the Illini this afternoon.
Excited to announce that I will be attending the Univ of Illinois. Looking forward to adding banners and accomplishing my academic goals.
— Jalen Coleman (@ColemanJalen) September 23, 2014
Boom goes the dynamite.
Jalen Brunson decided to take his talents to Philly this afternoon, choosing to play basketball for the Villanova Wildcats, resulting in yet another second place finish for the Illini. I know it hurts, but this might just be a huge blessing in disguise. So put down that glass of Drano you were about to drink and just hear me out.
It was widely reported that star Kimball (TX) point guard Jawun Evans (@Hungry_humble0) had an excellent official visit to campus on September 5-7, one weekend after Brunson visited.
He made plenty of comments on Twitter and he was even retweeting some of the fans.
— Alex Roux (@aroux94) September 6, 2014
So what does this have to do with Brunson and how does this help ease the pain of yet another recruiting snub? Well, if the Illini can land Evans, they are still getting a solid point guard for Coach Groce’s system and there is a possibility they can get a package deal with another big recruit, 6’9″ Lancaster (TX) PF Elijah Thomas (@edotcash).
Both Evans and Thomas have been open about the possibility of playing together while Evans and Brunson playing together is off of the table.
Spoke with Jawun Evans’ coach/mentor @mostone108. Said neither him or Jawun see room for Evans if Illini add Brunson. It’s one or the other.
— Alex Roux (@aroux94) September 8, 2014
So maybe this snub is all just a blessing in disguise. Of course it’s possible that the Illini end up with none of them. I guess in that case, drink up.**
**Editor’s note: Don’t drink Drano. You will probably die.
After a relatively quiet start to the basketball off-season, Tuesday brought some rather shocking news. Western Michigan transfer Darius Paul, who sat out last year due to NCAA regulations and was planning to play for the Illini in 2014-15, has been suspended for the entirety of the upcoming season. And that means banned from everything. No practice, no team meetings, no attending games on the bench, nothing. The official statement on the suspension from head coach John Groce is below:
“After a thorough review of Darius’ year, which includes multiple transgressions, I am suspending Darius from all team-related activities for the entire 2014-15 season. As head coach, my concerns are always what is best for the University of Illinois, what is best for the men’s basketball program, and what is best for our student-athletes as people. I feel this penalty is necessary to help Darius as a person. We will continue to support him through this process.” Continue Reading →
It feels really good to beat Iowa. In Iowa City. At the buzzer. On Iowa’s Senior Night. The only thing that could’ve possibly made a win like that any better was if it were against the Hoosiers. But don’t get me wrong, I hate the Hawkeyes too. Perhaps the most gratifying part of reviewing the tape from this game was after the Jon Ekey three, when Ray Rice took a nice, long stride down the baseline past the Iowa student section as if to say, “Yep. We just beat you at the buzzer. Suck it.” Look at all those unhappy Hawkeye fans with their hands over their heads!
Hello there, Illini Nation. Long time no see. You might wonder why I haven’t published a Game Film Breakdown in just under two months. And my rebuttal would simply be: well, the Illini were averaging about 0.88 points per possession during their long losing streak, the first time that has happened since 2009. In short, nobody could hit the broad side of a barn with the basketball during the month of January, and there was really no point in creating a two-paragraph post. But enough apologizing and excuse making; I sound like coach Tom Izzo. Continue Reading →
In a move that surprised absolutely nobody, Charles Matthews committed to Kentucky earlier this morning. This isn’t a crushing loss for the Illini. They have D.J. Williams and Aaron Jordan sealed up, but it is another in-state five-star recruit lost to the Blue Bloods. Just more proof that Coach John Groce has more work to do if he is going to be able to land the top in-state recruits. I think he will get there. A better season on the court would’ve helped and there is no doubt the State Farm Center renovations will eventually make a big difference. If Groce can’t land recruits after the renovations are over, it is time to panic.
Making my announcement Wednesday at 8:30am St Rita High School
— Charles Matthews (@CMATT_4) February 25, 2014
In a slightly surprising move, last night on twitter five-star shooting guard Charles Matthews announced that he will be making his college decision tomorrow morning instead of going through the entire process.
Check out some of his highlights:
What are the Illini’s chances he picks the orange and blue hat tomorrow? Slim to none. Word on the street is that Kentucky coach John Calipari was at Matthews practice yesterday. Calipari probably pulled some Godfather moves and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse. But, Matthews is very close with Illini commit D.J. Williams and it’s possible he has swayed his friend to Illini Nation. There is always hope, right? RIGHT??
I know, I know. You’re reading the title of this post and thinking, “What the hell is this guy talking about? The Illini’s chances at making a run to the NCAA tournament are about 100,000 to 1.” But hear me out. This is not an article about how Coach John Groce is going to flip a magical switch and Illinois is going to win out and make an improbable return to the big dance. This isn’t an article about how Rayvonte Rice is going to average 30 points in the Big Ten tournament to help lead the Illini to an automatic bid. This article isn’t even going to make a case as to why Illinois should be in the bracket, because quite frankly, they shouldn’t be. Currently seated at last place in the Big Ten, there is no optimistic or even logical way to look at the remaining schedule and declare that this team has a chance to reach the postseason. Continue Reading →