Good And Bad June 1, 2012
Good – Thomas Pieters wins the NCAA Golf Title
In 2010, Scott Langley won the NCAA Golf title. In 2011, the golf team finished in the top-8 at the NCAA tournament and went to the match play round, where they lost to Georgia in the quarterfinals. And now in 2012, Thomas Pieters wins the second Illini golf title in three years. Oh, and in 2011 golf coach Mike Small was the low PGA Club Professional at the PGA Championship. And DA Points won at Pebble Beach last year (and lost in a playoff at Quail Hollow this year). AND Chris DeForest qualified for the US Open last year and then (I want to say) briefly led during the first round at -3 before finishing his second round +5 and just missing the cut. He and Scott Langley are now fighting their way through the Nationwide Tour, chasing that PGA Tour dream.
So yeah, we’re a golf school.
Of course, in 2011/12, the volleyball team went to the championship game, the football team won it’s second bowl in a row, and the men’s gymnastics team won a national championship. And that Andrew Riley kid has probably won a couple national championships in hurdles by now. And I know I’m forgetting other Illini accomplishments.
My point: this blog has made me so Illini-centric that I only passively follow my professional teams anymore. And as I’ve started to follow other sports more and more, I’ve found myself a bit addicted. Baseball’s run to the Big Ten title last year and then eliminating Cal State Fullerton in the regionals. Women’s soccer winning the Big Ten Tournament with three consecutive overtime victories. BJ Futrell making the top-6 at wrestling nationals and becoming an All American. All the time now I find myself checking scores and standings and results on my phone, seeing how the kids in orange and blue are doing.
New Month Resolution: write more about the other sports in the next 12 months.
Bad – Issac Chew to Marquette
This really sucks. I thought Chew would KILL IT at Illinois. As soon as my Missouri friends lamented his switch from Columbia to Champaign, claiming he’d hit multiple home runs as our main Chicago recruiter, I’ve been telling the world that we found the perfect recruiting assistant. I think I even threw a “better than Jerrance” in there. I was jacked.
And now he’s gone to Marquette with a giant raise. That’s awful on two counts. 1) We were outbid by Marquette, and 2) We have to scramble to find a replacement with a month to go before the all-important July recruiting period. And June isn’t exactly the best time to be looking for assistants. Everyone has settled into roles at whatever school they moved to, and now we’ll likely rock the boat again.
Yes, the head coach is still in charge of recruiting, and hopefully John Groce can close with set-ups coming from Walker and Ford. But I thought Chew was a home run hire, and I’m not sure we can do much better than a stand-up double when hiring an assistant in June.
Especially if we can get outbid by Marquette.
Bad (Good?) – Jalen James decommits
There were warning signs surrounding Jalen James – a drop out of top-100 lists, struggling in his high school season, not starting for his AAU team, etc. – so this news didn’t come as a huge surprise. We really need a point guard that fits Groce’s system and can contribute immediately in 2013/14. More and more, it was looking like James wasn’t that guy.
But we really need a point guard that fits Groce’s system and can contribute immediately. Brandon Paul can fill in here and there next winter to spell Tracy Abrams, but in 2013/14, it will almost certainly be a freshman. James was that guy, and now… well, you can’t say Groce doesn’t have playing time to offer. I really can’t name another player on the 2013/14 roster that can fill in at point guard (JoeBert?), so getting a freshman is now ultra-crazy-important.
I guess it doesn’t HAVE to be a freshman. Nic Moore is transferring from ISU, and will reportedly decide between Purdue and Illinois. I saw Nic Moore during the ISU/Creighton MVC title game I went to back in March, and I think this kid can play in the Big Ten. Given that James is now gone, I’d love to see Moore in orange and blue. The Missouri Valley Conference – funnelling players to the University of Illinois since 2011.
Good – Football Recruiting Rankings
Rivals rankings for the Class of 2013 came out today – we’re 19th in the initial rankings. Scout also has us in the top-25, as they currently rank this class #22. Aaron Bailey led to some higher-ranked 3-stars like Jarrod Clements and Kenton Gibbs and Merrick Jackson, and that has led to this class being ranked in the top-25 so far.
Bad – It’s Way Early To Be Ranking Football Classes
Oregon has three commits. Miami has six verbals. Stanford has three, and they’re all four-stars. As these teams begin to fill out their classes, our class will likely drop.
But will it? What if word gets out about The Beast That Is Jarrod Clements – will he get a fourth star? What if having the Nike Football Training Camp in Champaign on Sunday kick-starts another recruiting run? What if we have a decent season and draw in a few wavering 4-stars next January for visits? There’s a chance that this very early 19th ranked class is a set up for the eventual… 19th ranked recruiting class. Get on a real roll, and maybe guys like Laquon Treadwell DO pay attention to Illinois.
That’d be good.