Illini basketball


Trent is fine. Da’Monte is fine. AJ is Brad Underwood’s favorite & nominal MVP.

Illini fans need only worry about everyone else.

Last time around, I wrote about Adonis, Ayo and Andres. The Triple-A would be the key to success, I said.

In Maui, Adonis corrected his errors of judgment & execution. Against Gonzaga, he converted 2-of-4 shots, which is nearly good enough for a 7-footer with negative quickness. Slightly alarming was the fact that he attempted those shots in five minutes of PT.

Against Iowa State, he equaled the 2-of-4, converted both of his free throws, and stretched his shooting over a 14-minute span. Even better.

Then, against Xavier, Bizarro Adonis returned, reviving his Mike Thorne impression with 1-of-5 flung from the field.

His reversion worsened against awful Mississippi Valley State. He was 1-of-3 from the field, and managed a -3 point impact against the 345th best team in the college basketball. His team won by 19 points, but lost when Adonis was on the floor.

Brad Underwood says Adonis is working his way back into shape, and that’s the reason for his poor shooting. Perhaps he’s building Adonis in the media while taking a different tone behind closed doors. That’s Underwood’s way.

Or maybe the coach has so much on his mind that he doesn’t see the huge problem here. Adonis, right now, is killing his team. He’s a turnover on offense. The numbers paint a bleak picture. It needs fixed immediately.

Andres Feliz is struggling at the rim, and — to a surprising degree recently — in the backcourt.

Underwood says he doesn’t want to dampen Dre’s instincts completely.  It’s refreshing to know that the coach sees a fine line here. His predecessors were hidebound in their philosophy of player freedom.

But Underwood also says Andres needs to recognize, when he gets too deep and the Tall Hands are blocking his view of the hoop, that it’s time to pass the ball.

Illini shooters have been pretty effective on wide-open threes.

But AJ, Alan and the gang can’t shoot if the ball is being batted out-of-bounds, or into the hands of an opponent.

Even Ayo, the Heralded Savior, has been slow in adjusting to the height and quickness of major college defenders. Consequently, he spends more than an advantageous amount of time crumpled in a heap on the baseline.

Kipper’s been broken since that little shit Mac McClung outhustled him for a loose ball, and reverse jammed it on Lou Henson Court.

Perhaps it’s not fair to expect him to guard power forwards and centers for 30 minutes per game while also running a fast-paced offense, but that’s the lot he’s drawn.

It’s especially sad to watch Kipper unravel because he’s the Illini who might have been the dominant upperclassman. And if he’s not, that’s another reason this season could go quickly down the drain.

Perhaps scoring 14 against MVSU will give Kipper his groove back. He’s done it against high-major opponents. but perhaps not while manning the low-post.

These are just the offensive problems. The defense should get better as the newcomers convert knowledge & experience into habits. But unless these offensive tendencies get fixed, it’ll be a loooong season.