Conference Rank: 9
Illinois Fighting Illini
Head Coach: Bruce Weber
2007-08 Record: 16-19 (5-13 Big Ten)
Key Losses: C 6’10” Shaun Pruitt, F 6’8” Brian Randle
Key Additions: G 6’5” Alex Legion, F 6‘7” Dominique Keller, F/C 6’9” Stan Simpson
G Demetri McCamey So. 6’3” 8.2 ppg, 3.3 apg
G Trent Meacham Sr. 6’2” 10.1 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Chester Frazier Sr. 6’2” 4.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg
F Dominique Keller Jr. 6’7” 25.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg *Junior College Stats
F Mike Tisdale So. 7’1” 3.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg
The backcourt is full of experience, and the offense starts with Trent Meachem. Meachem is a 49 percent three-point shooter, but he might have trouble get his shot off if defenses lay-off the Illini post players..
Demetri McCamey had an incredible Big-Ten tournament, scoring 31 points against Indiana and finishing two rebounds away from a triple-double against Minnesota. Now he just has to play that way all the time.
Averaging 4.9 rebounds per game is a lot for a 6’9” forward. It is more impressive when you are 6’2”. Chester Frazier is the leading returning rebounder and will be asked to crash the boards even more.
Junior college transfer Dominique Keller will get a chance to show he is a Division I talent. He was the second-leading scorer in the nation in junior college last season. The Illini will look to him to score and rebound from the first minute.
When you lose two of the better post players in the Big-Ten, where do you go? Mike Tisdale is tall enough at 7’1”, but he weighs only 235 pounds. He has shown the ability to shoot when he faces the basket, but post moves are not his strong suit.
Coming from Kentucky, Alex Legion might be the best player on this roster. He will not be able to play until late December because of the transfer rules. Legion is a former top 50 recruit and will finally have a school to play for.
Stan Simpson and 6’10” Mike Davis will add support in the frontcourt.
Not so long ago this team was putting on a once in a lifetime performance, only to run into the talented UNC Tar Heels in the championship game. Since then, their win total has decreased every season, and last season they missed the NCAA Tournament—the first time since Bruce Weber has been at Illinois.
This team is going to struggle with new players asked to contribute right away and not a lot of talent in the frontcourt.
The goal is simple: Play hard, stay consistent, and wait for the recruits to come in 2009.
Conference Rank: 10
Head Coach: Todd Lickliter
2007-08 Record: 13-19 (6-12 Big Ten)
Key Losses: G 6’1” Tony Freeman, G 6’6” Justin Johnson, C 7’0” Seth Gorney,
F 6’10” Kurt Looby
Key Additions: G 6’5” Matt Gatens, G 6‘5” Devan Bawinkel, G 6’4” Jermain Davis,
G 6’4” Anthony Tucker
G Jeff Peterson So. 6’0” 5.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg
G Jake Kelly So. 6’6” 7.3 ppg, 1.9 apg
F Jarryd Cole So. 6’7” 6.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Cyrus Tate Sr. 6’8” 8.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg
C Andrew Brommer Fr. 6’9” 18 ppg, 11 rpg *High School Stats
Cyrus Tate started 19 games last season and is the focal point for the Hawkeyes' post attack. He is a physical force on the block. After being a role player most of his career, Tate will be looked to for leadership.
The Hawkeyes has a crew of talented incoming guards, but early in the season, Jeff Peterson will run the point.
Having a 6’6” player like Jake Kelly at shooting guard will create matchup problems. He is a 43 percent three-point shooter but must find other ways he can consistently score.
Jarryd Cole will be back healthy and ready to improve on what was a solid season before he got injured. The Hawkeyes will rely on double-figure scoring and rebounding help from this talented forward.
Minnesotan Andrew Brommer will show that he is able to score in a variety of ways. His shot-blocking ability puts him in the starting lineup.
Look for freshmen guards Matt Gartens, Anthony Tucker, and Devan Bawinkel to add quality minutes off the bench. Tucker and Gartens could very well end up in the starting lineup by the end of the season.
After winning 25 games and the conference championship in 2004, the Hawkeyes have dramatically declined. Granted, Todd Lickliter was not around then, but he still has to display that the team is making strides.
Iowa is stacked with players 6'4" to 6'9", meaning the bigs will have to play bigger and guards will have to guard smaller on defense.
Cole and Kelly should present matchup problems for opposing teams, but they could very well go both ways.
I would imagine the Hawkeyes to go through some difficult times as they try to find the right mix at the point and figure out how to get those talented guards on the court.
Conference Rank: 11
Head Coach: Tom Crean
2007-08 Record: 25-8 (14-4 Big Ten)
Key Losses: G 6’4” Eric Gordon, F 6’9” D.J. White, G 6’1” Armon Bassett,
G 6’4” Jordon Crawford, G/F JaMarcus Ellis
Key Additions: G 6’2” Devan Dumes, G 6‘3” Nick Williams, G 6’3” Matt Roth,
G 6’5” Malik Story, C 7’0” Tijan Jobe, G 6’4” Verdell Jones, F/C 6’8” Tom Pritchard
G Devan Dumes Jr. 6’2” 16.9 ppg, 4 rpg *Junior College Stats
G Verdell Jones Fr. 6’5” 17.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg *High School Stats
F Nick Williams Fr. 6’4” 19 ppg, 8 rpg *High School Stats
F Kyle Taber Sr. 6’7” 1.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg
C Tom Pritchard Fr. 6’8” 18 ppg, 10 rpg *High School Stats
The only returning player that was of any consequence is Kyle Taber. He played 11 minutes a game, and as one of only three players over 6’5”, his production will increase with more playing time. An offseason knee surgery could slow him down in the early season.
Welcome to Indiana, Devan Dumes—you have the most experience. Can you please lead the team? Dumes is a capable scorer and is strong from behind the arc. He will be looked to provide leadership and a calm presence while the freshmen find their way.
Lanky Verdell Jones has point guard skills but will start at shooting guard. He must improve his shot and not rely on just creating off one-on-one situations.
Nick Williams committed to Marquette when Tom Crean was still there but followed his coach to the Hoosier state. He is an athletic wing that will need to aid the post players and grab his share of rebounds.
After losing 25 pounds since he came to campus, Tom Pritchard is confident in his abilities to be a force on the block for the Hoosiers.
At 7’0” and 255 lbs, Tijan Jobe will see a good number of minutes backing up Pritchard. He is massive in the post and has a 7’5” wingspan but needs to learn how to stay out of foul trouble.
Both Matt Roth and Malik Story will be used a lot to back up both guard spots and add scoring and shooting ability when they hit the floor.
Remember when D.J. White’s weight and motivation were Indiana’s biggest problems? Then Kelvin Sampson came to campus and destroyed the immediate future of this program.
Fortunately for the Hoosiers, Tom Crean is here to save the program. I think Crean is an underrated coach. Hoosier fans will have to be patient, but he will get Indiana back to the tournament in due time.
It is tough to expect new players to carry teams. Usually they come to be a role player and then develop into a star. Not this year. Even though none of the guards are on the Eric Gordon level, they are talented and must prove that can play at the Big Ten level.
All I can say is, good luck!
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