Illini Basketball: ESPN’s Seth Greenberg Describes Program’s Issues

seth greenberg

There’s only one Illini basketball topic that any fan really cares to discuss right now and you know exactly what it is.

Just about every member of the Illinois basketball community has one question on their mind, and then the natural follow-up. “Will John Groce be relieved of duties, and if so could it happen before the season ends?” After that the natural query is naturally “who could Illinois get to replace Groce?”

ESPN college basketball analysts Dick Vitale and Seth Greenberg participated in a media conference call Wednesday, and I asked them about the state and the direction of the program. The answers, which were more than a bit off point in some cases, are extremely out of touch with the feeling in the base.

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Illini Basketball: Malcolm Hill NBA Draft Stock Update

malcolm-hill-illini-basketball

During last year’s Big Ten Tournament in Chicago, a friend/media colleague and I adjourned to a bar/restaurant down the street in between sessions. At cocktail hour we ran into a couple scouts from two different NBA teams and I asked them if anyone on the current Illinois roster (then the 2014-15 squad) was of interest.

Malcolm Hill was the only name on their radar. A couple months later, their story checked out as Rayvonte Rice, despite his stellar career, went undrafted. Then again Rice wasn’t invited to the combine, and no one really had him on their boards. Malcolm Hill, however, has some decent NBA draft stock.

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2017 NFL Mock Draft 1-12-17

nfl draft big business

In our 2017 NFL mock draft, we based the order on the actual current order at the regular season. We sorted the playoff teams based on how we’re predicting the NFL playoffs will shape out. The NFL breaks ties in draft order by reverse order of strength of schedule. Thus we don’t know for sure who will be picking #14 and #15 between Indianapolis and Minnesota’s pick (which is owned by Philadelphia), as the NFL has not confirmed the order officially.

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Illini Basketball Have NIT, not NCAA Caliber Resume

illini-basketball

Heading into Saturday’s tire fire of an effort at Indiana, some bracket projections had this Illini basketball team actually in the NCAA Tournament.

That idea seems D.O.A. now as B1G play exposed Illinois in ways we had not seen in the pre-conference slate. 

The first two road games resulted in a 25 point loss, and a 16 point loss (Indiana is surprisingly #109 in RPI by the way, but you know that will normalize with time) that was window dressed by an epic #FakeRally spurred on by Jalen Coleman-Lands dominating garbage time.

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Illini Basketball: Tracy Abrams Could Have Overseas Pro Career

tracy-abrams-illini-basketball

In the Notre Dane basketball media room in 2011, a scout was raving to me about what a fine overseas player Tim Abromaitis could be. It wasn’t a conversation I willingly signed up for, and I sure as hell did not stay engaged in it at all, but I remember it vividly because I see the concept now applying to Illini basketball star “Grandpa” Tracy Abrams.

He’s about to play in his final Braggin’ Rights game and then his last go around in the B1G, and after that who knows what the future holds.

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Illini Basketball Have Found a Winning Hand (Starting Five)

Orange krush

College basketball is exactly like poker- you need a winning hand of the five very best that you can put out there. When Illinois Fighting Illini basketball took the floor against VCU in Miami, I tweeted how much I really liked the starting five that Illini basketball Coach John Groce went with for that game- Guard Tracy Abrams, Guard Malcolm Hill, Guard Jalen Coleman-Lands, Center Mike Thorne and Forward Leron Black.

The result was a blowout win over Virginia Commonwealth, and they haven’t looked back since. After the win over Brigham Young at the United Center tonight, it’s become clearer and clearer that this five needs to be the starers the rest of this season; it’s the most talented lineup 2016-17 Illini basketball can trot out there.

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Illini Basketball: Preview vs BYU Cougars at United Center

illini-basketball-chicago

We made the call for an event such as this to be created back in February of 2015. Thank you, Chicago Legends, for complying, and on Saturday night we shall see if the reboot of this franchise gets off to a successful start. It’s the inaugural event at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 17th.

The opener is Northwestern against Dayton at 6 pm (here’s the link to the game preview and prediction for that one), followed by Illini basketball versus Brigham Young at 8:30 in the nightcap.

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Four Most Popular Illini Basketball Stories of 2016

assembly hall illini basketball

When we started this list, we were going to combine both football and Illini basketball into one list, preferably ten. Then we saw that the gridiron material just didn’t move the needle too much. No disrespect to Lovie Smith and company, it’s unfortunately just the way it is.

Thus we had to make it all basketball, and shorten the list a bit.

Illinois plays their annual United Center contest tomorrow (game preview and prediction here at this link) and we figured a big event like this, as the year winds down, was the perfect time to recap our five most popular Illini basketball stories of 2016.

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College Basketball Shouldn’t Begin Until January

ncaa-tournament-march-madness

In negotiation, it’s called the “door in the face” technique.

Your initial pitch is far out, because you’re content to settle later somewhere in the middle with the opposition. Thus we make our pitch that college basketball should not commence until after the New Year.

Maybe that’s seems preposterous to you? Ok, how about we just shorten the season some and commence the campaign a bit later?

Approach this idea with an open mind.

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Illini Basketball: Let’s Talk that #1 in the B1G Recruiting Class

jeremiah-tilmon

Many, if not most Illini basketball fans have already started looking ahead to 2017-18. Can’t I say blame them either as this team could be at .500 by tomorrow night, and that’s a very embarrassing position for a high major program to be in during November. You saw the results in the preseason NIT, and at home versus Winthrop.

Those results speak for themselves. The main Illini basketball storyline now revolves around University of Illinois head coach John Groce’s future. Whether or not he’s back is something only Athletic Director Josh Whitman knows for sure.  We do know that Groce’s approval ratings, if such things were measured, would almost certainly be at their all time low right now.

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Illini Football: Year Two EXTREMELY Critical for Lovie Smith

lovie-smith-illini-football

Year one of the Lovie Smith era of Illini football was a disaster.

Year two will go a long toward determining whether or not Smith will stick around for a year three, four and beyond.

As William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

It’s not that Illini football was THAT awful this year. In quite a few areas (wide receiver play, run defense, pass blocking come to mind first and foremost), yes, yes they were atrocious for much of the 2016 season. Penalties were a major issue from the beginning, persisted for most of the season and reared their ugly head again as Illinois got trounced by Northwestern 42-21 in the season finale.

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Illini Football vs Northwestern Wildcats: Land of Lincoln Trophy Game Preview

lovie smith

Who’s Hat? Well right now it’s Northwestern‘s Land of Lincoln hat, and it appears they’ll maintain their recent upper hand in this series. NU is 4-3 in LOL Trophy/Hat games, and if this rivalry has one predictable trend, it’s this- the team having the better season almost always wins.

Yes, strange things, upsets often happen in intrastate rivalry games, but this bloodfeud has seen mostly chalk. Bad news for Illini football as they’re heavy underdogs for the Saturday morning clash in Evanston.

#BecauseItsTheLOLHat

pat fitzgerald

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