2018-2019 Basketball Season Preview

Nov 07, 2018

Basketball season is here. What used to begin in December (first Illini basketball game of the season 25 years ago: LaSalle on December 1st) now begins in early November. The Illini have two early November games (Evansville this week and Georgetown next week) before heading to the Maui Invitational the week of Thanksgiving.

So with the season starting tomorrow, Robert and Tyler have put together 9,100 words on the 2018/19 basketball season. As we've done in the past, a subscription will be required to read all seven parts of the preview (each section will count as a "click"). Subscriptions are available by clicking here.

If you just want to read a few of the sections, the preview lays out like this:

I. Intro
II. The Offense
III. The Roster
IV. The Defense
V. How To Watch A Young Team
VI. The Schedule
VII. In Closing ...

There will be a link at the bottom of each section to move on to the next post. Enjoy!

First up: Intro


grantskoch on November 07 @ 10:15 PM CST

Brumby, Robert, Tyler great work as always! Thanks for all you do. I-L-L

Douglascountyillinifan on November 08 @ 05:29 AM CST

And this, gentlemen, is why I continue to be a paying customer. Excellent insight with just the right amount of feels. Thank you.

phytynlini on November 08 @ 07:08 AM CST

Tyler...best acronym ever. Go Illini!

Joe Edge on November 08 @ 01:09 PM CST

Totally agree: 'the "Walk-on Holistic and Analytical Thought Encompassing Variables for Essential Ranking" (W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R.) system'..... What a hoot.... I love it.

neale stoner on November 08 @ 08:02 AM CST

Schedule analysis is a hoot. Great write up.

Hoppy on November 08 @ 08:19 AM CST

Wasn’t Groce’s 2nd year very similar to this one in terms of overhaul? In fact, I believe we only had THREE returning players that year. I’m surprised you missed that one Robert. Unless you have different metrics for “overhaul” or “returning”.

As I recall, we were getting our first class of five freshmen (Nunn, Hill, Tate, Morgan, Colbert) grad transfer Ekey, and sat-out-last-year Rice. We also brought in guys who would sit out that year (Starks, Cosby, and Paul).

Our only returning players were Abrams, Bertrand, and Egwu.

Depending on how you count Rice, that’s 3 returning players with 7 newcomers or 4 returning players (even though Rice didn’t play during his sit out year) and 6 newcomers.

Sweetchuck13 on November 08 @ 11:12 AM CST

Well done as always gentlemen! Can't wait to start watching this team and see what we actually have with the new guys. Don't think there's a realistic shot at the tourney, but even with the schedule I'd like to see about 17-18 wins and then a much bigger year in 2019-20.

CAIllini on November 08 @ 12:29 PM CST

Nice preview....it's troubling that while reading through your schedule analysis I actually thought you were being optimistic. Then I look at your win total and...damn! Tough, tough schedule for such a new team....

illiniranger on November 08 @ 01:01 PM CST

i would like to discuss this statement:

"Every coach will tell you that, but every coach will then play favorites with their star players because keeping them happy = wins. Brad Underwood was a Frank Martin guy (both at K-State and South Carolina), and Frank Martin has had a similar history. He arrived at South Carolina, seven players departed the program after his first season, he rebuilt with a massive class featuring one superstar guard (Sindarius Thornwell, #34 in the RSCI) and a bunch of unranked recruits, and in four years, when Thornwell was a senior, they went to the Final Four."

Martin has qualified for one NCAA tourney in 6 years. His record in Columbia is 113-90 (.557) with a paltry 45-63 (.417) conference record. Martin's team went 17-16 overall and 7-11 in conference last year, one season after making the Final Four. The media picked his team to finish 11th out of 14 this year in the SEC.

By comparison, John Groce qualified for one NCAA tourney in 5 years. His record was 95-75 (.559) with a paltry 37-53 (.411) conference record. The difference between Frank Martin at South Carolina and John Groce at Illinois is one great tournament run.

Martin built a team vs a program at South Carolina. I would very much like Underwood to build a program vs a team at Illinois.

Robert on November 08 @ 01:18 PM CST

Well, I'd say the jury is still out on Martin. This year will tell us a lot. I allow plenty of room for a coach to have a down year after his best team graduates. He built it up to a Final Four (and that only reason that South Carolina team was a 7-seed was that their star player missed six weeks - they would have likely been a 3-4 seed if he was healthy the full year), and then they had a dropoff year after the three seniors graduated. That's fine in my book as long as your start back up the following year.

Mike MacIntyre is a good example of that right now. Built Colorado to 10-2 his fourth year. Fifth year was a very understandable 5-7 after everyone graduated. Sixth year is then the whole deal (will he Ron Turner or will he Barry Alvarez?), and after a 5-1 start where they were ranked and it looked like they were Alvarezing, he's now 5-4 and might be Turnering.

illiniranger on November 08 @ 02:21 PM CST

(i had this typed out and it didn't save, so i'm going to try and go off my short term memory...) Martin recruited 24 (Sindarius), 42, 33, 65, 64, current 54. That doesn't seem sustainable in terms of competing for conference championships every year.

in my mind, that should be the goal for Illini basketball. Compete for a conference championship every year. We did that for about 26 years from 1980 to 2006. Now, i don't expect to WIN it every year, but we need to be in the discussion 4 out of 5 years and finish in the top half of the league 9/10 years.

if we considered success to be a 7 year stretch of miss tourney, miss tourney, miss tourney, miss tourney, Final 4, miss tourney, 11th out of 14 in preseason with recruiting ranging from the 30s to 60s... i think that would be redefining success for Illinois basketball in a way that nobody would have found acceptable since the early 80s.

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