Let the games begin
Enough with the appetizers...it's time for the main course. As the Chicago Tribune
points out: Maryland is the 1st big test for 7-0 Illinois
. The unbeaten and #23 ranked Maryland Terrapins will be the first game against a ranked opponent for the Illini this year. The 6:00 p.m. CST game tonight is part of the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge and can be seen on ESPN.
The MSM storyline for the game is Baltimore native Chester Frazier will be welcoming his hometown team to Assembly Hall. Mark Tupper says that Frazier was a big Maryland fan growing up, but that the Maryland recruiters never knocked on his door
. Frazier's gameplan is to not get too excited
Wonk has seen Maryland play this year and they will be tough to beat, especially without Brian Randle
. The game offers the Illini the first chance to prove
that they can play at the level they have in the past few seasons. To follow the score online, click here
. Leave your thoughts about the game below.
Frank Williams scores 32 in NBADL Debut
Frank Williams led the Sioux Falls Skyforce with 32 points in his NBADL debut - a 114-104 loss to the Dakota Wizards
. Williams' stats
were stellar, shooting 10-17 from the floor, 6-10 from behind the three-point line and 6-7 from the charity stripe. The University of Illinois star also had 6 assists and 2 steals while only committing one turnover.
Next up for Williams and the Skyforce is a game with the Idaho Stampede
on November 30. Illini Wonk is planning to attend.
Trent Meacham v. Jon Scheyer
There's one thing we've clearly established: Bruce Weber can't recruit. He may be able to land locals like Jamar Smith, Trent Meacham and Bill Cole, but he can't get Jon Scheyer, Derrick Rose and Sherron Collins. Under Weber, Illinois better get used to the shadow of Big Ten recruiting powerhouses like Ohio State and Michigan State. Right?
Well, let's look at this season so far. Let's compare the unheralded Trent Meacham with the celebrated Jon Scheyer. Through Four Games, here are Meacham's stats
Here are the stats
for Scheyer over his first four games:
So, despite playing similar minutes (35) to Scheyer (32.5) and shooting a similar percentage, Meacham is averaging four more points and two more assists than Scheyer. Meacham also has a better assist/turnover ratio and has been to the free-throw line three times for every one of Scheyer.
It may be early in the season, but perhaps Weber isn't as bad of a recruiter as we all assumed? Maybe he's looking for guys who fit his system rather than players who want the spotlight for one or two seasons before they jump to the NBA? Just a thought.
Frank Williams joins the Sioux Falls Skyforce
The Sioux Falls Skyforce
have been in the CBA for years and are preparing for their first season in the NBA Development League. On the roster
is former University of Illinois Fighting Illini standout Frank Williams
. He was drafted by the Skyforce in the third round, and returning coach Mo McHone said "I never dreamed he would still be there in the third round
As regular readers of this blog will know, Wonk is located in Sioux Falls and now plans to start attending more Skyforce games.
Rumor has it that he's a little out of shape after not playing for a while, but will be expected to put in quite a bit of time at the point guard spot. For a video report on the Skyforce training camp (with a few brief glimpses of Williams), click here
So, along with the coverage of Illinois hoops that you have come to expect, you will also receive periodic updates on the play of Frank Williams. The season tips off November 24.
Illini improve to 3-0
The University of Illinois men's basketball team improved to 3-0 on the season with a 85-50 win over Georgia Southern
. The Illini got 19 points from Trent Meacham and 17 from Calvin Brock. Mark Tupper said they're taking advantage
of their chance at some minutes that would normally go to the injured and the suspended.
Even walk-on Chris Hicks was on the court for seven minutes and scored two points. Click here
for the box score. Next up for the Fighting Illini is the Florida A&M Rattlers
on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.
Ouch x 2
Jamar Smith out 4-6 weeks
with a high ankle sprain. Brian Randle "week-to-week" with a groin pull that has team doctors consulting with specialists around the nation for what is described as an unusual condition
With McBride serving three more games of his four-game suspension, the Illini might have to go here
for some bodies to put on the court.
Illini sign three recruits
University of Illinois Men's Basketball Coach Bruce Weber recieved signed letters of intent from three recruits on the first day of the fall signing period. They are: Point guard Demetri McCamey (pictured here) from Westchester St. Joseph, forward Bill Cole
from Peoria Richwoods and center Mike Tisdale
from Riverton. Kedric Prince has the details on the trio here
Of the recruits, Weber said: They're all excited to be here
. The comment was a thinly veiled reference to Eric Gordon, who was the backdrop to the day's events. Randy Kindred apparently thinks Weber is just trying to cover up the fact that the recruiting class is more suited for Carbondale than Champaign
. Bruce Weber acknowledges that, when it comes to recruiting, We have to sit back and evaluate what we’re doing
This may be opening a big can of worms, but what do you think about the Illini basketball recruiting class of 2007?
Mr Rose Opts for Memphis
As expected by many Derrick Rose announced yesterday that he intends to play for Memphis Conference USA instead of either IL or IN in the Big Ten.
There are several things that Rose his older brother Reggie have said that leads me to think, for the most part, they are just giving double talk to the media and fans at large.
In the Sun-Times article
Rose says in one sentence who better to learn from than assistant Memphis coach Rod Strickland. He goes on to say in the Sun-Times story and also in the Chicago Tribune story that his discussion was based in part on the fact that Memphis has promised him that he is going to start as a freshman (I guess current starter and preseason all conf player, Soph Chris Douglas-Roberts a former 4 star rated player, either is going to head for the NBA himself or sit out while he watches Rose play next year.) and that "He gets to play his own game." That's funny. I always thought basketball was a team sport and that it was the head coach who decided the style of play for the team. What a shear coincidence that this 17 year old high school student's style is exactly what John Calipari has the Memphis Tigers playing. And even more interesting is that according to many experts including Scout.com's Dave Telep
, Derrick is going to be at Memphis for a season or two and then leave for the pros. Well does that mean if he is to play his own game that he is currently playing the style of game that the NBA franchises are looking for? If so it is amazing. Even Michael Jordan had a few things that he needed to learn at UNC and still more once he was drafted by the Bulls.
So if Derrick is going to have to change his game, even a little bit, it is just possible he could learn what he needs to learn at IL. After all IL has put PG with the names of Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head into the NBA in the past couple of years. It would seem to me that the Illinois coaching staff has had a hand in their development. And did so without the assistance of Rod Strickland.
In another part of the Sun-Times story Rose's mother is quoted as saying that she and the family support his decision. That's nice. Every family should stand behind the decision that their children make when they are picking out a college. The part I find curious is when Derrick said that he is following the family's principle of, "it's all about the education." I didn't realize that you can get a 4 year degree AND play major college basketball AND do so in only a year or two. I know this kid is good but he has to be extraordinary to get his degree in such a short period of time. If it is really and truly ALL about the education, how can he choose Memphis over IL? I will be surprised if Derrick even has to declare a major. But if he does, I wonder if Memphis has a better program than IL in that field.The Tribune article
quotes Rose as admitting that he had made up his mind two weeks ago. Then what was the reason for going to IL last week? It just seems rather strange to me. Was it really to look at IL one more time to see if they really were a fit for him? Maybe so. I am sure he liked the reception that he received. His older brother Reggie compared it to a greeting that a rock star would receive. Reggie then goes on to say if IL only had treated Derrick that way on his previous visit, instead of like a "regular recruit", he just may have selected for IL instead of Memphis. It seems to me what really bothers Derrick and Reggie is not that IL is not a great fit for him and that Memphis is. It is that IL and Coach Weber won't promise them the moon and treat them like rock stars whenever they walk into the room.
Which team is really the best fit? I don't know. It appears to me that IL would have been the better choice based on the better level of play. (The Big Ten is rank as the 4th best conference and the feared Conf-USA is 12th.)
Last year Conf USA placed only Memphis and UAB into the NCAA tournament. This year only Memphis is projected to make it to the Big Dance.
For the record, I am not implying that Memphis has a weak program nor do they lie to their recruits. What seems to be in Derrick's best interest is to be the big fish in a small pond. Put up some very gaudy numbers and then take the money and run. If that is the case I am glad he is not coming to IL. I just don't think it is the best interest of the IL program to sell themselves out for the sake of having a player on the team for a year or two.
I liked Rick Morrissey's column
. He says Weber is doing it right. Weber may not land the top recruits at IL. But he isn't going to lie to them either. He offers the players a chance at a quality education and chance to compete in the Big Ten. And as long as Bruce does this I doubt many of the super elite players will come to IL.