Boy, this really has not been a fun two week stretch for Illini fans, has it? But here's some good news: this is the second straight week that Ask TCR has fully returned! Hooray! One thing that seems to have changed though is I'm not getting nearly as many off the wall questions as Tom seemed to. I was hoping I'd have more room to get weird, but you guys aren't really giving me that feed yet. We'll get there.
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 email@example.com. 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.
I don't think it would be unreasonable to shake things up, but I don't think it will happen in the immediate future, especially with a somehow winnable game against the Buckeyes coming up tomorrow. No one is or should be happy with how things have started going since conference play began, but I think Groce will want to stick with his starters for at least a little while longer. That being said, if our straits are still dire in two weeks or so? Expect the freshmen to start seeing a lot more playing time. No reason not to at that point.
Not a question, but Nana, please give me the most optimistic viewpoint on him and his future #askTCR— Nick Pratten (@PrattCat16) January 19, 2014
Just like everyone else, I don't really have any clue what's been going on with Nnanna Egwu this season. It's been nice seeing him get more blocks and rebounds, but it would have been really helpful if his offensive game had managed to take as much of a step forward as well. Most optimistic viewpoint? He turns it on in the second half of the season and makes the leap to elite Big Ten center, gets drafted towards the end of the first round. More realistic? He fixes what's been wrong on offense and continues to improve next season as well, winds up being invited to summer league by a team without a good backup big man.
It's not so much that Joe's disappeared, it's that he's in a completely different role than we're used to. We're used to magical dunks and feats of derring-do with his high energy play as a complementary piece or off the bench. He used to have more room to work because other teams had to be more worried about Brandon Paul or D.J. Richardson. With Rayvonte Rice dealing with injury and inconsistent play from our point guards, Joe just doesn't look the same. He's not having a bad season, it's just a different world. Think of him as Hawkman from the Justice League. He's good to have around and is fantastic when you have Superman, Batman, or Green Lantern around. But when Hawkman is your number one or two option, he stops looking so great. I'm a giant dork.
For not making me answer this question, I'm going with Zidow.
Via email from Scott Stein-
How often do you run into Bruce Weber in Manhattan? Do you guys ever meet up for drinks or maybe go bowling together? If Bruce Weber was the captain of a bowling team, what would the team name be?
First, great job sneaking three questions into one. I have run into Bruce once and that was while walking around during football tailgating. When I said "Hey Bruce!", he reacted like a squirrel would and darted away. I actually had the opportunity to dogsit for him this winter, but it was during the week I decided to go back home to Plainfield. I'm positive that if I had watched his pooch, we'd be best bowling buds on the Illini Exiles.
If we're talking about just what a player of his talent level would have meant, last year's team would have probably beaten Mizzou and a spot in the Sweet Sixteen wouldn't be an unrealistic expectation. This year likely still would have been the step back we're seeing as we'd still lose Paul and Richardson, but they'd definitely still make the dance.
That being said, what becomes of Nnanna, Big Sam, Ekey, and Griffey if Leonard sticks around? Do we get the magic play against Indiana? Does the team gel like it did last season? I don't know.
Until we hear one or two of those recruits specifically say they were wowed and won over because of the Junior Day this past weekend, I don't really think there is any criteria to judge with. That being said, I'm all for anything that gets that many recruits on campus to see the facilities and meet the coaches on our home turf. It definitely can't hurt, so unless reports come out that Beckman & Co did something terrible during the proceedings, I won't ever be able to call it a failure. But a success? We won't know until a few months from now if ever.
Pretty low. I'd say less than 10%. We never really know what's going to happen in regards to if players will transfer between now and then and I just think it sets a bad precedent to redshirt a player after his freshman year for that reason. It doesn't feel like something John Groce would do.
As I wrote about yesterday, I have no problem with what Richard Sherman did Sunday night and I generally wouldn't fight anyone I have absolutely no beef with. I also have a pretty strong policy in regards to fighting guys with three inches of height, 20 lbs, and years of playing a sport that trains them to not feel pain. That policy can best be summed up as "don't do it". I'm too old to be getting into fights I couldn't possibly win and I'd give myself a 1% chance of actually beating Sherman in a donnybrook.
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