ITH Super Happy Fun Time Big Ten Preview: Illini of Illinois

chiefweb.jpgThe Hoosiers are finished with their cupcakes and the New Year is nearly upon us, which can mean only one thing: It’s Big Ten Preview Time! Here’s a look at the teams that will challenge the Hoosiers for the conference crown … or fall under the weighty boot of crimson dominance. Probably the latter. Today: Illinois.

If anything can be said about the Illinois Illini — besides the weird obsession among its fans about a vaguely racist Indian minstrel mascot — it’s that these dudes defend. It’s the one immutable rule of Bruce Weber’s tenure: No matter how much talent Weber puts on the floor, his team will be one of the best in the Big Ten, and perhaps the country, at stopping opposing offenses. Unfortunately for chanters of I-L-L everywhere, the past two years, there is another immutable rule about the Illini: They are horrid offensively.

The story remains the same in 2007-08. A quick glance at Ken Pomeroy’s scouting report tells the tale. The Illini are sixth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency; they are 87th on offense. They are ninth in the country in effective field goal percentage against; they are 228th (!!) on offense. They are 16th in the country defending against the three; they are 320th in the country shooting them. It goes on and on. The Illini are a good defensive team that is both horribly slow and horribly inefficient on offense. It’s an ugly combination.

So far, their defensive acumen has not shown up as often as their offensive horribleishness. That equals bad basketball. The latest example: a 60-58 loss against the fighting Tennessee State Tigers, a 3-7 (now 4-7!) team that has no business beating the Illini in Champaign. Yet they did, as have the Miami (OH) Redhawks. The idea that those two teams would win in road-impossible Champaign is sort of unbelievable, and it doesn’t toll well for the Illini as the Big Ten schedule picks up.

A look down the lineup reveals one good player (Shaun Pruitt), one underachieving athletic freak (Brian Randle), and a series of mediocre-to-bad guardish players. Most interesting is Randle. Whether through injuries or fouls or his seemingly unadaptable and stubborn offensive game, Randle has never been able to turn all that athletic talent into the promise it held throughout his high school career and recruitment. Watching him play, one gets the feeling that, with just a few tweaks and a better outside shot, he could be so good. Instead, Randle is the second-best player on a team without a single good player.

The Bottom Line: The Illini will defend well. Bruce Weber will be slightly annoying in press conferences. And thanks to their unbelievably bad offense, the Illini will not only be painful to watch, they will be a bad basketball team. The big story from our angle is their newfound rivalry with IU, but if early season returns are any indication, this year, it won’t be much of a rivalry at all.

* For the record, I hate Illinois with a passion that burns deeply inside my most insulated loins. But I was pretty nice, wasn’t I?

Read the rest of our Big Ten Preview:

  • Timmy

    Would you rather have McCamey for 4 years or IDKWTI for 1?

  • Timmy

    Would you rather have McCamey for 4 years or IDKWTI for 1?

  • Timmy

    Would you rather have McCamey for 4 years or IDKWTI for 1?

  • MPmike

    Who in the heck is IDKWTI?????????????????????

  • MPmike

    Who in the heck is IDKWTI?????????????????????

  • Luke

    Eric Gordon=IDKWTI

  • Luke

    Eric Gordon=IDKWTI

  • Luke

    Eric Gordon=IDKWTI

  • Mike

    Since I have no idea who “McCamey” is, I’m going to go with “Gordon for 1 year”.

    Having watched him in 14 games so far this year, I would take “Gordon for 1 year” over just about every other guard I’ve seen, including some no name guy from Illinois.

  • Mike

    Since I have no idea who “McCamey” is, I’m going to go with “Gordon for 1 year”.

    Having watched him in 14 games so far this year, I would take “Gordon for 1 year” over just about every other guard I’ve seen, including some no name guy from Illinois.

  • Mike

    Oh yeah….also….

    “All there is to do in Champaign is drink, fart, and wear your ‘Chief’ shirt” -WSCR Chicago Sports Radio

  • Mike

    Oh yeah….also….

    “All there is to do in Champaign is drink, fart, and wear your ‘Chief’ shirt” -WSCR Chicago Sports Radio

  • Mike

    Oh yeah….also….

    “All there is to do in Champaign is drink, fart, and wear your ‘Chief’ shirt” -WSCR Chicago Sports Radio

  • Tyler

    Haha Timmy are you talking about the overweight guard who dosn’t even start over the worst shooting PG in the nation? Then yes, I would take the best scorer in the country in Eric Gordon.

  • Tyler

    Haha Timmy are you talking about the overweight guard who dosn’t even start over the worst shooting PG in the nation? Then yes, I would take the best scorer in the country in Eric Gordon.

  • Timmy

    D-Mac is suppose to be the next Deron Williams. How much better would UI be if they had IDKWTI this year…top 20? top 10?? If IU did not have IDKWTI this year, I don’t think our drop off would be as dramatic as UI’s.

  • Timmy

    D-Mac is suppose to be the next Deron Williams. How much better would UI be if they had IDKWTI this year…top 20? top 10?? If IU did not have IDKWTI this year, I don’t think our drop off would be as dramatic as UI’s.

  • Timmy

    D-Mac is suppose to be the next Deron Williams. How much better would UI be if they had IDKWTI this year…top 20? top 10?? If IU did not have IDKWTI this year, I don’t think our drop off would be as dramatic as UI’s.

  • http://wearethebusinessmen.com PMK

    Can someone explain what this means:
    IDKWTI

  • http://wearethebusinessmen.com PMK

    Can someone explain what this means:
    IDKWTI

  • Tyler

    IDKWTI- This means “I don’t know who that is” and it was said by Deron Williams when asked about Eric Gordon after decommiting from ILL-NIT.

  • Tyler

    IDKWTI- This means “I don’t know who that is” and it was said by Deron Williams when asked about Eric Gordon after decommiting from ILL-NIT.

  • Tyler

    IDKWTI- This means “I don’t know who that is” and it was said by Deron Williams when asked about Eric Gordon after decommiting from ILL-NIT.

  • Tyler

    And Timmy how do you figure? Indiana would still beat the living hell out of UI without Gordon, but to bad for you, we do have him, so its going to get UGLY.

  • Tyler

    And Timmy how do you figure? Indiana would still beat the living hell out of UI without Gordon, but to bad for you, we do have him, so its going to get UGLY.

  • Tyler

    And Timmy how do you figure? Indiana would still beat the living hell out of UI without Gordon, but to bad for you, we do have him, so its going to get UGLY.

  • Steve O

    Timmy, I think your boy Deron should find out who Gordon is, I mean he is like top 10 in the nation in scoring as a freshman. Or i guess he can wait till next year to learn the name when EJ is dunking all over his face.

  • Steve O

    Timmy, I think your boy Deron should find out who Gordon is, I mean he is like top 10 in the nation in scoring as a freshman. Or i guess he can wait till next year to learn the name when EJ is dunking all over his face.

  • Bruce Wanker

    I’m not going to shake your coaches your hand
    again this year. Good thing for him though b/c I
    am a wanker.

  • Bruce Wanker

    I’m not going to shake your coaches your hand
    again this year. Good thing for him though b/c I
    am a wanker.

  • Bruce Wanker

    I’m not going to shake your coaches your hand
    again this year. Good thing for him though b/c I
    am a wanker.

  • MD

    Gordon helped us get Ebanks.

    McCamey helped you get….wait does UI have any recruits coming in next year?

  • MD

    Gordon helped us get Ebanks.

    McCamey helped you get….wait does UI have any recruits coming in next year?

  • MD

    Gordon helped us get Ebanks.

    McCamey helped you get….wait does UI have any recruits coming in next year?

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