Chester Frazier Joins Illini Coaching Staff


Illinois Fighting Illini Head Coach Bruce Weber announced today that former Fighting Illini point guard Chester Frazier has joined the UI staff. Frazier, an Illini point guard from 2006-09, will serve as graduate assistant/video coordinator. He is enrolled in the university’s master’s degree program in educational policy studies. You might recall during his senior season that EVERY media outlet mentioned how Frazier wanted to become a coach, every time his name came up/he was shown on screen.

On Tuesday, he began that very journey.

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Illini Rarely Survive Tourney’s First Weekend

Paul M. Banks

In order to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, a team must go 6-0. Out of the 6 rounds within which a team may be eliminated, the University of Illinois has the most issues with the second round. Since 1995, the Illini have qualified for the tournament every year but three.

In those 11 March Madness appearances, they were ousted in exactly the second game on 6 occasions (’06, ’03, ’00, ’98, ’97, ’95) – more than half the time.

If seedings hold this year, it will occur yet again. Illinois is seeded 5th in the South Region and many experts project them to get past 12th seeded Western Kentucky in the first round, but lose to 4th seeded Gonzaga in the second.

You might know the Zags as that team who in recent years have made a lot of noise knocking off high seeds during the first couple rounds, but can’t seem to duplicate that same success once they get seeded near the top of the bracket themselves.

So why has Illinois struggled so mightily in the tourney’s second round? Well, the first (and only) win over a higher seeded team in school history occurred in 2004, when Deron Williams’ 31 points led the 5th seeded Orange and Blue over the 4th seeded Cincinnati Bearcats. This moment was immortalized on an episode of “The Newlyweds,” a low-brow reality series airing on MTV in those days. Viewers witnessed Jessica Simpson’s ex-husband (and die-hard Cincinnati fan) Nick Lachey feel deep depression as the Illini routed the Bearcats.

If the Illini buck this recent trend and survive past the round of 32, they might have to do it without their glue guy and top defender, Dr. Chester Frazier. The senior point guard who broke his hand in practice last Thursday is also the team’s biggest hustle guy on the court as well as and emotional leader. His health status and Illini tourney history are two things to consider when filling out your bracket this week. Of course, this advice is purely for novelty purposes; nothing to do with gambling. If you bought stocks recommended on CNBC’s “Mad Money,” and they later tanked you wouldn’t take it out on Jim Cramer, right?

Robbie Hummel Exclusive

Paul M. Banks goes one-on-one with one of the Big Ten’s most valuable players

Purdue’s Robbie Hummel was a finalist for the Oscar Robertson and John Wooden awards during his freshman season- the first Boilermaker since Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson. Last season Hummel was an All-Big Ten first team selection last season, leading the conference in 3-pt field goal %. This year, the conference’s preseason player of the year is among the Big Ten leaders in rebounding, scoring, 3-pt field goal % and FT % despite having to battle nagging, persistent back injuries. Most importantly, the Boilers are 11-2 in conference play when Hummel plays, 0-3 when he is absent.

PMB: You’ve been designated as a point forward. Tell me about the match-up issues your opponents have given the height advantage you have over most point guards…

RH: “When I was little I always played guard. I wasn’t very big, but then I grew a lot between my 8th grade and freshman year so with that I kind of kept my guard skills and tried to add some big man skills, but I’m kind of used to playing the point.”

PMB: And does it help your court vision, and therefore becoming a floor general, does it augment your decision making?

RH: “I think so because I’m taller. When I bring the ball up I think it’s a huge advantage to how I can see the floor.”

PMB: We’ve seen a lot of bigger than usual point guards, Deron Williams from Illinois is an example, succeed in the league lately. You model your game on any of these NBA stars?

RH: “I don’t have a role model in the NBA. I grew up a Bulls fan so obviously Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are the guys. I don’t model my game after them, but I just love to watch those guys play. Chris Paul is very special, Deron Williams like you said from Illinois, is obviously very special, there’s a lot and it’s hard to name them all.”

PMB: What aspect of your game do you most want to improve upon?

RH: “I’d like to become better with my back to the basket, earlier in the year when we played Illinois I had Chester Frazier guarding me and I didn’t capitalize on that.”

PMB: Yes you had quite a big height difference there, but what makes Chester Frazier such a great individual defender?

RH: “He’s hard nose. He’s tough, he really gets low when he defends so he’s obviously a special guy and great player.

Illini Lose Ludicrously Ugly Game

By Paul M. Banks

When you saw the box score of #16 Illinois’ (21-6, 9-5) 38-33 home loss to unranked Penn St. (19-8, 8-6) on Wednesday night, you might have thought you were glancing at a Girls’ high school basketball result. In football, the two schools combined to score 62 points last fall, in roundball just nine more.

If you ever wondered why the Big Ten, the 2nd highest rated conference in RPI, doesn’t nationally receive the respect it might deserve, it’s because of ugly games like these.

Wednesday night’s affair made the Dick Bennett “stall-ball” era at Wisconsin look like Magic Johnson’s “Showtime” years at the Great Western Forum. This contest was about defense, but it was much more about ludicrously bad offense. The Illini motion attack stood still, and the Nittany Lions (notice how their team name starts with N-I-T) got an offensive boost from the officials.

The home crowd at the “House of Paign” were boisterously critical of the refs, and perhaps rightfully so, given the disparity in free throws: Penn State attempted 11, Illinois zero. “Very flat, not moving, didn’t get good cutting,” Illini coach Bruce Weber said of his team’s non-existent “O.”

Illinois Senior guards Trent Meacham and Dr. Chester Frazier “led” (I can’t make air-quotes strong enough to invoke the necessary sarcasm) the Illini with 7 points apiece. The other three starters contributed 6, 5, and 4 points. But at least the scoring was balanced. “They played good defense all night, we missed some shots we usually make, it was a combination of both,” Meacham said. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was in attendance for this game: which was to offensive fundamentals what his predecessor Rod Blagojevich was to ethical governance. In the nearly 50 year history of Assembly Hall, this game broke records for: lowest winning score, fewest combined points, worst combined field-goal accuracy, and fewest point scored by Illinois.

Penn State Coach Ed DeChellis was asked if he had seen anything like this in all his years of college basketball. “It was uncharted water, sometimes I looked up at the score and I didn’t know what half we were in. At the end, we set this back a few years, Naismith must be rolling over in his grave,” the winning headman replied.