Illini basketball

Lewis preview

Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
Of a cottage on the shore
Of a dark Scottish lake the Illini men’s basketball program

After a lousy open scrimmage, and a disorganized exhibition against Division III Wash U, the Illini are just as curious as their dwindling fan base: Will this team be any good?

Before practice Thursday, The Star acknowledged that he’ll see a lot of double-teams, etc., in an attempt by every opponent on the schedule to keep him from taking over games.

Illinois needs a one-two punch. But who, after Malcolm, will be the second punch? The Star said things will look different when Leron Black returns from his suspension, but he also acknowledged that Leron remains a fouling machine. Perhaps Leron’s rebounding will earn him the Augustine Jersey for practices. Will he, like Augustine, need three years of regular PT before he figures out how to defend without fouling?

Malcolm also says you Cubs fans really annoyed him Wednesday night. (He’s from Saint Louis. ’nuff said.)

Friday’s opponent is Lewis University, where Jaylon Tate’s mom Arisa was once the Flyers’ number 1 singles tennis player.  The Flyers always give Illinois a hard time.

Paris Parham has the scout. He says this years Flyers team will bother Illinois’ perimeter players, disrupting the Illini goal of getting the ball inside, and reducing the percentage of shots Illinois takes from beyond the arc. What John Groce refers to as “paint touches.”

Paris says watch out for Delaney Blaylock & Capel Henshaw.

While Parham and Groce fret about “paint touches,” Groce is not as worried about “paint conversions” as, perhaps, the rest of us are.

But he acknowledged that missed bunnies and dropped passes were a problem against Wash U.

Aaron Jordan expects to start at shooting guard for a second consecutive contest. Jalen Coleman-Lands might be the starter later in the season, but he’s still recovering from the broken pinkie.

Jordan says the biggest weakness in his game is being vocal on defense. He’s working on it.

Maybe the most exciting thing about Friday’s Lewis exhibition will be our second chance to see Te’Jon Lucas.

The freshman QB was the most exciting passer in all Illini sports last week, and he’s only improved in practices since. Lucas dished 10 assists in practice yesterday, and by team policy should have worn the Bruce Douglas Jersey this afternoon.

But instead, Samson Oladimeji wore the Douglas Jersey, because Illini team managers don’t have another jersey for him to wear.

Oladimeji is a wing from Fremd. He’s in the midst of a ten day tryout with the Illini. He’d be the team’s fifth walk-on, although Drew Cayce and Cameron Liss are both sitting out this year (Cayce because of transfer rules, and Liss just because).

The other QB (and/or shooting guard) is, of course, Tracy Abrams.  He chastised himself Thursday for a lack of leadership on the toughness & togetherness front versus Wash U.

But he was perfectly happy that you Cubs fans kept him awake.