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#AskTCR: Cliff Alexander?


These are interesting times to be an Illini fan, aren't they?

Over the weekend the Illini nearly put an end to their four billion game Big Ten losing streak, losing to Penn State in overtime. The sadness of that event was then erased on Tuesday when John Groce landed his first commit of the 2015 class in four-star Simeon small forward D.J. Williams.

Oh, and did you know that the actual basketball season starts on Friday night?

So of course with all of this going on the subject of most questions we received this week was Cliff Alexander. Everybody wants to know about Cliff Alexander because nobody knows anything about Cliff Alexander right now, so they are in a never-ending quest for more Cliff Alexander.

But before we get to Cliff Alexander, here's how you go about getting your questions about Cliff Alexander into next week's #AskTCR.

There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. Well change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.

And now, Cliff Alexander.

Yeah, this simple question pretty much sums up every Cliff Alexander question I received. Is Cliff Alexander coming to Illinois? Will this weekend's visit to Kansas convince Cliff to go to Kansas?

I don't know. I'm sorry. There's really not much more that I can tell you that you know yourself, or that I've already written about here before. All I know is that we've still got over a week until Alexander makes his announcement and that it is going to be a very long and very stupid week while we wait.

I know that the news he was going to Kansas this weekend and has an in-home scheduled with Bill Self worried me a bit upon hearing it, but I also know it doesn't exactly mean he's going to Kansas. It could be that Bill Self is making a last-minute pitch to him in hopes of changing his mind.

We don't know.

Only Cliff Alexander knows. Everything you hear from now until Friday is likely just somebody making a guess or somebody going off of information that they got from somebody that isn't Cliff Alexander. Unless it's Taylor Rooks, but even she doesn't know what Cliff is going to do.

Only Cliff knows.

I also know that if you follow every twist and turn in this recruitment, it's going to drive you insane. Which is why I recommend taking a step back and just living your life while waiting for the announcement. If something happens that you need to know about, don't worry, we'll write about it here. Because we have to drive ourselves crazy following this recruitment.

I hope you appreciate the fact I'm putting a down payment on my room at an asylum in a few years for you.

It's also important to know that this is the kind of stuff you can expect when you go after the Big Dogs in basketball recruiting. We weren't used to this with Bruce Weber, but as John Groce has already shown us in his short time here, he's not fucking around. The man has already landed three top 50 recruits. Bruce Weber had six in his nine years.

I also know that if Cliff Alexander does end up choosing Kansas, it's not a big deal for the future of this program. Don't get me wrong, I really want Cliff to come to Illinois, but this is basically a free roll for John Groce. If Alexander comes to Illinois, awesome. It'd be like finding $100 in the pocket of your jeans.

If he doesn't, we've still got a very good 2014 class and the start of what could be an even better 2015 class.

We're in very good hands here, people.

Seriously, what a couple of assholes.

If you're not familiar with what happened this week, the ones we call The Donut Brothers -- not going to link to their actual site -- were the ones who reported that Cliff Alexander would be deciding between Illinois and DePaul, with Kansas not even in the picture. Well, as is often the case when somebody reports something from an anonymous source, Taylor Rooks then went to Cliff himself.

And Cliff denied the report.

Then, being the wonderful people that they are, the Donut Brothers began implying that Taylor Rooks was having an inappropriate relationship with Alexander. Because that's how journalism works if you're an attractive female. You obviously can't have any idea of how to do your job, you're just having sex with everybody.

The Donut Brothers deleted the offending tweets, but instead of apologizing they did what cowards and assholes normally do, which is pull out the "THAT'S NOT WHAT WE MEANT, YOU CAN'T KNOW WHAT WE MEANT ONLY WE CAN KNOW WHAT WE MEANT" card.

But you know what they never did after playing that card?

They never told us what they meant.  Because we all knew what they meant, and they knew what they meant, and they're just a couple of assholes who will be forced to spend the rest of their lives knowing that all those dreams they had growing up will never be achieved.

Which hurts worse than a steel chair to the head.

That's a deep question, man, but one I believe I am capable of answering. Illinois football is Illinois football because the yin and the yang man. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Illinois football is Illinois football because Illinois basketball.

We had a birthday post about it!

Honestly, I don't know what the best or worst part of it all was. I'll tell you what I have enjoyed, and this may sound weird given the circumstances, but this site has helped me really care about Illinois football again. I mean, I always cared, but I wasn't living and dying with it.

As I've shared here before, I grew up in Chicago as a Notre Dame fan. The Irish were my college football team -- Illinois has always been my college basketball team -- until I came to Champaign in 2001, and even then the Illini football team still played second fiddle to Notre Dame. But those years I was in Champaign were the years I cared more about Illinois football than Notre Dame because it was right there in front of me.

Now, doing this site, that feeling has returned. I'm more immersed in Illinois football than I've ever been before. Of course they've made that transition super easy by being so good!

As for the worst part of The Champaign Room in the first year, I'll say it's been Birkhead.

That's me. Last year Mark would tweet some from the account during football games, but that's no longer the case. Every single tweet that comes from blog account is me.

But you should also follow our individual accounts. You can follow Mark hereBirkhead here and Cassidy here. My personal account is here.

You're no crazier than Birkhead who has GUARANTEED that the Illini will be going bowling this season. But I do agree that three of our final four games are winnable, because Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern aren't exactly good teams this season. Of course, the problem with that is that even though we've improved, we're not exactly a good team either.

So, yes, there are three winnable games remaining on the schedule. Will we win all three of them? I doubt it.

I don't know the whole story, but legend says that Satan tried to sell his soul to John Groce but Groce refused because he's "already forced to spend too much time around Tom Crean."

If things go right, it should be pretty damn deep. In fact, according to NCAA scholarship limits, it's too deep!

By replacing four of the five guys who started on last year's line, probably.

Given the style of offense, I think you have to give the advantage to Wes Lunt in that battle. However, I don't think Aaron Bailey will change positions even if he doesn't win the starting job.

We all know that Bill Cubit likes to use multiple formations and mix things up on offense. This  year he has Nathan Scheelhaase, who is capable of throwing as well as running. Well, Wes Lunt isn't nearly as mobile as Nate is. So even if he doesn't start I'd expect we'll see Bailey playing next season as well in certain situations. Kind of like this year.

That being said, I wouldn't be shocked to see Bailey lining up at different spots, but he won't officially have his position changed.


Thanks for the questions! If you submitted a question that didn't get answered, don't worry, it's possible that I'm just saving it for the next mailbag. It's also possible the question sucked and you need to ask better questions next time. I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.