2019-2020 IlliniBoard Basketball Preview

Nov 5, 2019

I have to say, I got a little fired up writing parts of this preview. Blame the three-game football winning streak. It's not hard for me to get all "and then we'll go to a BOWL GAME and then we'll go to the NCAA TOURNAMENT and then we'll win the COLLEGE WORLD SERIES" and on and on. I'm just so desperate for something to pour my fandom into. Can you blame me?

Here's how the basketball previews work. It's not a tip jar thing like the football preview. We simply make it nine sections - nine individual articles (four written by Tyler, five written by me) - all lined up in order. If you have a subscription, you can read all nine. If you don't have one, pick and choose the five articles you want to read - there's a table of contents on the sidebar.

If you don't have a subscription and you want one, of if you've let yours lapse, well, I'll talk about that because I don't mention it enough. Subscriptions are $24 for unlimited access for the year. Your subscription money pays for everything here, from the photos you see to the gas in Tyler's car as he drives to cover the first game tomorrow night. It's purely a "how about a little something for the effort" system with an intentionally leaky paywall. If you're a long time subscriber, thanks. If you're not, or if you've let it lapse, maybe now is a good time to subscribe. There might be a few Illini things you're going to want to read about in the next few months. Subscription information is available here.

OK, on to the preview. This is more or less one big back-and-forth. I told Tyler a few weeks ago that the goal was around 10,000 words and I just totaled them up: exactly 10,008 words. I should go back in and delete a sentence.

Thanks to Tyler for all his hard work, and thanks to Nathan for editing, and thanks to Brumby for assembling everything. Also, thanks to Ayo and Trent and Giorgi and Kofi and company for giving us so much hope. Let's do this.

Right to it. Click the link below to go to the first section.

2019/20 IlliniBoard Basketball Preview


Groundhogday on November 5, 2019 @ 06:30 AM

I just posted this on the forum, but in Underwood's Monday presser he talked about playing Giorgi more at the 5, and trying to avoid playing Kofi for 7-8 minute stretches. 28 minutes probably too much for him.

In the exhibition, Kofi played 28 min at the 5, Giorgi played ~5 min at the 5 and for 7 minutes neither were playing the five. Hard to imagine that is the rotation in competitive games.

If Kofi is more at 23 mpg, Giorgi 27 mpg, then you have 50 mpg combined. Assuming that we almost always have one or the other in the game, that leaves 30 mpg for someone else at the 4. Hence Underwood's talk about the value of playing BBV and Kipper at the 4.

Kofi and Giorgi are probably two of your best 5. For that matter Feliz is one of your best five. But we'll need to rotate 8-9 guys at a minimum, and those rotations probably work better if you can play Feliz off the bench and while Giorgi and Kofi might start the game together they probably won't play much together. This isn't a bad thing. In the end, we want 23 great mpg from Kofi and 27 great mpg from Giorgi. Why are fans so concerned about those two getting their minutes at the same time?

Who is going to play the 5 if both Giorgi and Kofi are on the bench? Hamlin? BBV? Wouldn't you rather have Hamlin redshirting and BBV getting his minutes primarily at the 4?

Giovantischixstripz on November 5, 2019 @ 04:04 PM

I think you are right about this. Our best 5 is probably Giorgi, Kofi, Trent, Feliz, and Ayo, but we probably always want at least one of Giorgi and Kofi on the floor and 2 of those 3 guards on the floor, so I wouldn't be surprised to see both Kofi and Feliz start on the bench to stagger their minutes. Kofi might start at the beginning of the season because he's really good and has earned it, but I can see shifting him to the bench as the season goes on, to hedge against both him and Giorgi getting into foul trouble early on. For the minutes Giorgi and Kofi play together it will be interesting how Brad adjusts, because I do not think Giorgi playing the Aaron Jordan role is maximizing his talents. If he is operating as the 2nd cutter, perhaps instead of clearing to the corner like the 4 normally does after cutting he sets up on the post, and if they throw it to Kofi in the pinch post instead of working the handoffs to the guards they look for Giorgi to seal and play the high low game. Or maybe they scrap the spread altogether when both are on the court and work some double post sets.

Great preview, I've bought my first subscription to support the great work Robert does, and am excited about Illini football and basketball at the same time for the first time in a very long time!

Groundhogday on November 5, 2019 @ 08:23 PM

Assuming the guards will play 30 mpg max, that allows us to play a 3 guard lineup ~10 mpg. Where we saw it the most last season was down the stretch to close out games. So if Feliz starts, then one of the three comes out at the first break. And you'll have them together the last 5 minutes or so. But that somewhat limits the opportunity to go with 3 guards at key times during a game.

I'd be less surprised to see Kofi + Giogi start together. Again, one comes out at the first break. And also 10 mpg roughly for overlap. But we probably don't see these two together much at the end of games, when you want ball handling and shooting.

One problem with all of this is that assuming Alan is the primary 3, a lineup of Kofi + Giorgi + Griffin + Ayo + Frazier probably doesn't take advantage of Griffin's rebounding. Nor does that lineup give a lot of ball handling overall. Will be interesting to see how rotations evolve through the season, but it sure would be great if BBV can contribute 20+ mpg as a solid stretch 4. We'll need those minutes.

Giovantischixstripz on November 5, 2019 @ 10:46 PM

I think Kofi and Giorgi probably start together tonight, I just think going forward its not the best use of them for 2 reasons.

  1. No protection from early foul trouble. Say Giorgi picks up 2 fouls in the first 4-6 minutes (as he was prone to do). If Kofi starts, you are probably looking for him to play 16 first half minutes, with 4 minutes of rest in the middle where Kipper, BBV, or Haimlin have to fill the 5 (not ideal). If Kofi comes off the bench, then you just need to play him like 13 minutes, and only need to rest him for 2-3 minutes where we have to last without an ideal center
  2. Them playing together probably serves best as a change of pace rather than a starting duo. You want to hit a team with that 4 minutes in after they have gotten used to the standard spread offense, not something they are gameplanning to start the game against.
  3. Stealing your point, if Griffin is starting we maximize his value as a slasher on the offensive boards if there are less bodies down low.

As far as end game situations, I think when we are ahead we might see more Giorgi+Kofi lineups to slow the opponents down and steal extra possessions on the boards, but when we are behind one will have to sit so we can ratchet up the pressure D and spread the floor better.

Groundhogday on November 6, 2019 @ 12:33 AM

Good point about foul trouble.

darenberg on November 5, 2019 @ 01:24 PM

Awesome read Robert and Tyler. Nice use of the word “nigh” Tyler, which I think should be used wayyyyy more often than it is. Only disappointment in this is I was hoping for a “Coke-burn” vs. “Cock-burn” vs “Coe-burn” treatise. Maybe next year?

Dr. Chim Richalds on November 5, 2019 @ 09:56 PM

Tremendous work on the preview Robert and Tyler! Your respective analytical styles mesh perfectly - great read just before season tip-off.

One thing I would be interested to hear is, you're both predicting the tournament, but what would you each say is your prediction for the percentage-chance of making it? Is it an 80% "I would be shocked if we don't make it", or more of a 60% "this could go either way, but I'm leaning towards making it"?

(For the record, I would set my own likelihood at about 40% on the basis of how the team finished last season, but am desperately hoping I'm wrong.)

Walkon on November 7, 2019 @ 06:05 AM

Tuesday morning percentage: 87% Wednesday morning percentage: 26%

Reality is probably somewhere in the middle. Let’s see how this weekend goes.

Groundhogday on November 5, 2019 @ 10:20 PM

It Has To Happen Now

I'll agree emphatically. If Underwood can't make it to the NCAA tournament with this roster, he isn't the coach we thought we hired. Or he assembled a talented roster that doesn't have the right parts to succeed with his system. Either way...

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