For people who’ve never seen these fresh-faced Illini cagers, the newcomers were certainly the most interesting thing about Friday’s Wesleyan exhibition. Now you know why Andres Feliz will be a starter, and why Giorgi Bezhanishvili will be a fighter.
For those of us who’ve seen them a few times, the box score was the eye-opener.
After years, perhaps decades of following a same-old formula, the official stat sheet has added new concepts. That’s why we know that Feliz not only committed zero fouls, but drew five from the Titans. Same stat for Trent Frazier.
We also know the plus/minus points tally for each individual’s playing time. And the playing time is more exact. For example:
That’s also a great example of how the +/- might mislead a person who reads box scores instead of watching games. Da’Monte’s impact on the game must be described as positive.
Three assists to zero turnovers, four rebounds and solid defense. He also made the play of the game (as judged by crowd reaction) with a dramatic shot rejection.
Still, it’s a metric. Da’Monte was -3. So was Alan Griffin. So was Tyler Underwood.
Yes, Tyler Underwood played 8 minutes and 44 seconds. Trent Frazier was +25 in 25:34 at the same position. Absolutely no one is shocked by this contrast, I presume.
Feliz was +15. Like Griffin, he’s considered a superior on-ball defender. Like Griffin, he was posterized by a group of amateur Methodists, none of whom earned an athletic scholarship.
These things happen. Brad Underwood’s job is to make sure they don’t happen again.
Only Ayo Dosunmu played more minutes than Frazier, totaling 28:49. Ayo was the primary ball-handler for some of that time, but not much. So it’s not surprising that he managed a solitary assist. It’s more surprising that he booted the ball five times. The 1-to-5 turnover ratio might be explained by his inexperience at the college level. Frazier’s ATO was 5-to-4.
Seventeen turns is more than any college coach will accept, but on the other hand, Ayo garnered four steals. That evens things out. Likewise Aaron Jordan. His turnover was countered by two steals and two assists, plus a game-high seven rebounds. Dude was clearly feeling possessive about ball security.
Those numbers will keep him on the court. His 3-of-7 shooting is less than ideal, but AJ was +18 in his 21:10. It’s hard to argue with numbers.
Obviously this “contest” was not, in Brad Underwood’s mind, a proving ground for his eventual 200 minute distribution. Other than the two cripples, everybody played.
Samba Kane showed fans why he was recruited (height, mobility) and why they won’t see him again for quite some time (everything else). Drew Cayce and Samson Olademeji played. Team manager-cum-forward Zach Griffith got floor time.
The only omen one might read in the PT tea leaves is that Tevian Jones earned less tick than Kid Underwood. And, during that tick, one could see why.
Jones was the best example of freshman inexperience. The game was waaaaay too fast for him. He performed well when standing still (3-for-3 FTs), but needs the Team Underwood concepts to settle into instincts rather than second-guessings.
Why was Brad Underwood so generous with his PT? Probably because he wants the freshmen and walk-ons to feel rewarded for all the work they’ve put in since June. And also because he knows the newcomers can’t be hurried. They’re going to keep playing like freshmen until everything clicks for them.
Finally, he’s probably realized, after having major parts of his body removed and replaced, that life is short, and must be lived in the present.
Perhaps he also wanted to show visiting Class of 2019 PF Chris Payton that everyone gets a chance here at Illinois.