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Slapdash January 15, 2013

When you don’t know what to write about, just start writing.

Eight Is Enough

I’ve gone over it and over it and over it, and I think I’m pretty certain that it’s possible there’s a chance that 22-12 (8-10) gets us in the tournament.  That’s 13-1 non-conference, 8-10 conference, and then a loss in the first round of the BTT.

It’s rare for a team with a losing record in their conference to get in, but with the B1G #1 in the RPI, and with our non-con wins over likely protected seeds Gonzaga and Butler, 22-12 is enough.

Maybe even more than enough. With those wins, I could see some crazy scenario where we finish 7-11 in the conference but then win two BTT games and squeak into the tourney at 23-13.  Is seven enough?

Man, 7-11 has to be a tough committee sell. Eight is probably enough, though.  But just to be safe, let’s get to nine.  Ohio State, Northwestern, at Nebraska, Wisconsin, Purdue, at Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, at Iowa.

And then stun Indiana in Champaign to get to ten.

The January Ten

If you’ve been around ALE for long, you know that the football signing day post is the most epic post of the year.  I think I spent 24 hours on the post last year.  The very first post here was Signing Day 2009 (Terry Hawthorne! Justin Green!), so I like to celebrate the first Wednesday in February as a little birthday party for ALionEye.

Because of that, I’ve decided to hold off on previews of the ten players who started class yesterday until Signing Day.  I considered a pre-signing day post – I even typed up the intro, comparing the early enrollees to St. Nicholas Eve with Signing Day being Christmas – but I thought better of it and decided to hold off until February 6th.

What’s St. Nicholas Eve?  Well, for some reason, at my house, we always got one present on December 6th.  My sister and I would put our shoes on the back porch on the evening of December fifth (what?) and then race down the stairs in the morning to see what St. Nicholas put in our shoes.  I always got an orange in one shoe and then some gift in the other shoe.  In fact, one year, I believe St. Nicholas put shoes in my shoes.  That was an Ed Hightower looking at himself in the monitor moment if I’ve ever seen one.

ANYWAY, even though I’m not putting together the preview just yet, I still want to touch on the ten guys who started class yesterday.  By far, my favorite recruit of those ten is DB/WR Darius Mosely from O’Fallon, Illinois.  Hmmm… that’s where my sister lives now.  WAIT, didn’t Mosely visit Illinois for his official visit on DECEMBER SIXTH?? Is the universe trying to tell me that Darius Mosely is my St. Nicholas Eve present for 2012???

FOCUS.  Mosely is an athletic two-way player who I want to be Brandon Lloyd II – arrive as a defensive back, catch a few passes in August and never leave the WR position.

Man, if I keep this up I’m going to use up all of my good stuff for the epic signing day post. Here, I’ll just say this.  Juco safeties Eric Finney and Zane Petty probably start (Finney at star LB).  Juco OT Dallas Hinkhouse has a chance to start as well.  Mosely and fellow DB recruit Dillan Cazley will both get a head start on the competition for the wide open secondary by going through spring ball.  Decent chance one of them finds the starting lineup as a true freshman.  The OL I’m most excited about is Christian DiLauro.  He was a high school tight end that we’re moving to offensive tackle.  I’ve been waiting years and years for us to find athletic high school tight ends that we can bulk up and move to tackle.

OK, that’s all for now.  Epic post in t-minus 21 days.

Three Star Surprise

I’ve probably written about this before, but we are so due for a three-star basketball recruit that plays well above his ranking.  A Jordan Taylor.  A Victor Oladipo.  Heck, even Trey Burke was outside the top-100 before arriving at Michigan and becoming (maybe) the best player in the Big Ten.

We had Cory Bradford – he was an off-the-radar recruit from Memphis who came here, sat out a year for academics, and the proceeded to become Big Ten Freshman of the Year.  Since then, I’d say only Mike Davis qualifies as “three star kid who far outplayed his ranking”.  Davis was so far off the radar that he signed in August and started school three weeks later.  And then he climbed to, what, second team All Big Ten?

We need another one.  In fact, we need a Kendall Gill.  Gill wasn’t the highest ranked recruit – there wasn’t an RSCI back then, but if there was, he wouldn’t have been on it.  Gill was more Trey Burke-like.  From “don’t expect much” to “we’re expecting a Final Four” in a flash.

Look at Andre Hollins at Minnesota.  Hollins was a 3-star recruit who decided between Minnesota, Mississippi, Stanford, and Auburn.  He picks Minnesota… and is now one of the top guards in the Big Ten (as a sophomore).  When do we get a kid like that?

Give me a Will Sheehey.  I’ll take one Aaron Craft, please.  Just find me a three-star kid (is it you, Jaylon Tate?) who goes from three-star recruit to “wow, what a vital part of this team”.

Wait, I’m calling it now.  Maverick Morgan is our very own Jack Cooley.  10.1 rebounds per game as a true freshman.  Maverick, call the ball.

Maverick has the ball.

Illinifan4eva January 15th, 2013

I thought you wound include something about Cubit since the hire was official yesterday. I’m guessing one in the next few days after he talks to the media?

PittsburghNellie January 15th, 2013

I think Morgan could start next year. We’d look so much better with an actual big man playing next to Egwu. And I think Morgan is also more post-move savvy than Egwu will ever be (in an Illini uniform)
Lineup could be: Abrams – Rice – Bertrand – Egwu – Morgan.
This all depends on if he can hold his own early on, but if so, this lineup is nearly a lock to play better interior defense and get more rebounds than this year’s squad

eric January 15th, 2013

Yo dawg, I heard you like Ed Hightower.

ATOillini January 16th, 2013

After reading (some of) the players you mentioned in “Three Star Surprise”, I’ll just hop on board and beg/pray for the same thing.

illiniranger January 16th, 2013

Mav Morgan is not the answer next year. i doubt an under-recruited big is going to blow up as a FR. as an upperclassman? sure. but as a true FR in the most rugged college bball league in the country? no.
i think a lot of us are suffering from EA Sports NCAA football fatigue. you know how you can take a real crappy team, win a bunch of games and put the FR you recruit in and they are awesome? yeah, that’s not real life.
we’re putting a lot of stock in guys like aaron bailey, kendrick nunn, jaylon tate, mav morgan, etc. I’m not saying they won’t perform during their career – but i think we need to scale back our expectations of what these guys will do as FR.

Robert January 16th, 2013

But that’s just my point, Ranger.
Trey Burke had four Big Ten offers – Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, and Iowa. He was in Ohio State’s back yard, was Jared Sullinger’s high school teammate, and Ohio State didn’t offer. Nor did any other high major offer. Michigan was his best offer, and that’s where he went. And then he was second team All Big Ten as a freshman and now might be the best player in the conference as a sophomore.
Cory Bradford did that for us (nobody recruit to B1G Freshman Of The Year). It happens from time to time. Teams get lucky with a kid that nobody else really recruited. I’m wondering when it will happen for us again.

illiniguy January 16th, 2013

Corey Bradford was the most highly ranked player in his class. He had lots of high major offers until other schools backed off due to his academics. His signing was considered a coup at the time. I think that was before “stars” labeled recruits but he’d be at least a high three star or maybe a four star player.

SouthernIllini January 16th, 2013

We HAVE TO go 4-2 over our next 6. This is a season-defining stretch here. Beat Northwestern and Nebraska…then beat Wisconsin at home and ONE of Mich St., Michingan, and Indiana.

illiniranger January 16th, 2013

i guess part of it is that i am not seeing with most of our recruits either a) elite athleticism and B) really great numbers. when you look at a 3 star that overperformed (Hello Vontae Davis) he was not highly recruited (i think we beat Mich St for him) but he was a freak athlete with great size and speed for the CB position.
I’m not seeing that type of athleticism in Mav Morgan, although i see it with Colbert. and Bailey has the athleticism but plays a position that you really don’t know until you see the guy play.
also, to eat my own words, Mason Monheim was a 2 star i think? and his best offer other than us was Toledo maybe? and he’s freaking awesome. so i think we just got one of those guys in fball, but maybe not bball?

Lou-a-villini January 17th, 2013

LaTulip = B1G POY in 2016. ;)

Joe John January 17th, 2013


Do you still want to give John Groce an extension?
Is he still winning enough press conferences to give you confidence?

This Northwestern loss is the worst loss in the program since Tennessee State.
Coming off the 2 worst losses since 1997.

illiniranger January 17th, 2013

good god we suddenly morphed into awful. i would like to see groce crawl into somebodies ass. that is what we are missing.

Joe John January 17th, 2013

Not to pick nits on Robert’s blog, but I was very rudely called out here by GMAW (among others). So here’s a message just to him – I was right. Dont question me.

Hoppy January 17th, 2013

I believe in Groce and I’m sure you still do as well. Don’t let Joe John get you down.
However, I do think it is time to calculate how many wins we will need to get into the NIT. This team has no depth, no girth, no leadership, and no heart.
If I were Groce, I would sit the starters and tell Illini Nation that he isn’t afraid to sacrifice a year for the betterment of the program. He can’t be afraid to lose as long as it could benefit us in the long run. If JG starts to sacrifice his long term views to try and achieve a small amount of short term success, Mike Thomas will get an itchy trigger finger. MT hired guys to build programs, not fast burners that could go to the top and crash back down again. Luckily I don’t think JG will do that.

GrogsBBQPepperoni January 17th, 2013

Grow up Joe John. You’re the furthest thing from a true fan. You relish our misfortune. And strangely, you’re proud of that. Yep, terrible loss. By a team consisting of essentially all Bruce Weber’s recruits.

GrogsBBQPepperoni January 17th, 2013

And I’ll be the first to call you out and “question you” since you’re wrong more often than not. Predicted loss to Gonzaga: wrong. Predicted we’d lose to OSU: wrong. Predicted we’d beat Minnesota: wrong. Riiiiiiiight, don’t question the great Joe John.

Joe John January 17th, 2013

Overall I stuck to 7-11 even after the undefeated start.
So yes, donuts for me.
Although, admittedly i’ve missed a ton of individual game performances. But the overall picture is exactly what I thought would happen at the beginning of the season.

ATOillini January 17th, 2013

Goodness gracious. All that’s missing now is for Groce to mention at his next press conference that he’s lost 20 pounds.
As for “live by the blah blah blah”……3 for 24, 2 for 14 and 3 for 20 in the last 3 games is almost incomprehensible. Team looks utterly inept and scared in every facet of the game. Just absolutely painful to watch.