Maniscalculations March 15, 2011
I’m working on my hash-tags for next season. The early favorite: #ManiscalcOWNED!
Seriously. I totally almost sent that.
So what’s all this, then? Well, this afternoon, what was rumored became true, as Bradley point guard Sam Maniscalco made it official – he’ll be transferring to Illinois next season. And because of a loophole I’ll call the Justin Knox/Jeremiah Masoli rule, he’ll be eligible to play immediately because A) he has graduated, B) he still has one year of eligibility due to injury, and C) Illinois has graduate programs that Bradley does not. And also, unofficially, D) Illinois really, really needs a point guard next season.
As an Illini fan, I’ve searched for a downside to this – there’s always a downside – but I can’t find one. I’m like Hubie Brown; all I can see is upside:
- We have one scholarship available right now, and we’ve been holding it for a 2012 player. So we give it to Maniscalco now, he plays for a year, and then… we still give it to a 2012 player.
- With McCamey graduating, our point guard options next year were true freshman Tracy Abrams or The Brandon Paul Project. Adding Maniscalco gives us an experienced (albeit MVC) point guard to ease into the Paul conversion and the Abrams acclamation.
- His last three years at Bradley, Maniscalco shot .836, .845, and .824 from the free throw line. Illini fans may remember him as the kid who went 9 for 9 from the line in Bradley’s win over the Illini in Vegas last year. So when there’s 31 seconds left and we need to inbound the ball to someone who’s gonna hit the front end of that one-and-one… Maniscalcoldblooded.
- With 4 seniors graduating and no juniors on the team, there have been many questions about where the leadership comes from next winter. Hey, how about a 5th year senior grad student point guard who was preseason first team all-MVC?
How many minutes will he play? No idea. I could see anything from 8 minutes per game (if Abrams’ game is college-ready) to 33 minutes per game (if the team excels with Sam at the controls). Will he be another Marcus Arnold, who excelled in the MVC but never quite found his place in the Big Ten? I doubt it – this kid was second team all conference last year and in the preseason conversation for MVC Player Of The Year before he got injured.
Biggest question: does this make the 2011/12 Illini better? I can’t see how it doesn’t. A freebie recruit who will play one year at your biggest position of need. Maniscallelujah.