Illini Basketball: Brad Underwood Will Have to Play a Lot of Four Guard Lineups


josh whitman brad underwood illini basketball

As the often quotable, and sometimes verbally clumsy, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld infamously said-

“you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.”

It’s mid-June and Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood still has three open scholarships on his roster. He’s simply going to have to go to war in 2017-18 with the roster he has, not the roster he wishes he had. To be more specific, Underwood will have to enter the B1G battles with the wafer thin front court depth he has, not a deep, beefed up front court that he wish he had.

Of course, there are still unknown knowns and known unknowns to come this offseason. The outlook could still change somewhat between now and when practice begins in October.


However, we’re so far along in the usual cycle now that the moves still to be made aren’t for your blue-chip, instant impact guys. It’s more for role players, and then looking ahead to 2018 and beyond.

That said, it appears that Illini basketball will have to play three guards (which Underwood would do anyway, even in optimal circumstances) almost all of the time, and four guards for significant stretches. This will of course be taxing on the guards and wings, and if the injury bug then bites…look out below.

Likewise in the front court, a significant injury or two could really turn this upcoming season very ugly in a hurry.

That said, don’t discount the ability Underwood has as a turnaround artist. He inherited a total dumpster fire at Oklahoma State from Travis Ford, and he got the Cowboys to 20 wins and a spot in the big dance.

brad underwood oklahoma state

You can make the case that Brad Underwood has already done more with less in previous circumstances. If no other changes are made, here’s where you currently stand on the Illini basketball depth chart:

PG Te’Jon Lucas/Trent Frazier

WG Mark Smith/Aaron Jordan (insert open scholarship here)

WG Mark Alstork/Da’Monte Williams (insert open scholarship here)

F Kipper Nichols/Greg Eboigbodin

C Leron Black/Michael Finke (insert open scholarship here)

You can look at the names above, and note all the lack of experience and absence of depth.

However, in order to make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs, and there are tremendous opportunity costs that come with regime change.

illini basketball jamall walker

Also, as pessimistic as the forecasts might be, 2017-18 Illini basketball will undoubtedly be better than 2015-16 Illini basketball.

There is no way this season could go as poorly as John Groce’s fourth year.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network and News NowBanks, a former writer for the Washington TimesNBC and Chicago, currently contributes to WGN CLTV and KOZN

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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