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Illinois Basketball Roundup: Krush Diss, CPL Playoffs, and D.J.'s Return

Don't worry folks, this roundup largely avoids the current state of the basketball team.


Craft Krush

Ohio State snapped Illinois in two in the second half of that atrocious game Saturday night. No one had fun watching it. Some of us were spared by not being able to watch it. Hard to believe anything remotely humorous came from the game.....

But wait, hold on! Courtesy of Dan Dakich's Twitter, we got a peek at the Orange Krush pregame notes on the Buckeyes. This included an extensive biography of their four-year starting point guard/defensive machine with cherubic cheeks, Aaron Craft. (Focus on the contents of the Krush notes before we get to Dakich's tweet.)

I nearly spit out my coffee this morning when I saw the part about Dakich being Craft's real father. That's probably the apex of college basketball student section comedy. Kudos to the ingenuity, Krush.

Unfortunately, Dakich missed an opportunity to give a hat tip to Krush's cleverness, and, well, I don't know. He sort of began to disparage them I guess.

That was mostly gibberish from Dakich. But through some reading comprehension, I deduced that Dakich thinks Krush needs to step up its game. Be more "dangerous" (not sure that's the right word in the wake of the Marcus Smart incident). He then compliments Krush on the road trip to Penn State, then circles back to his actual point: Be like the Paint Crew.

The Paint Crew, however unfortunate it is to represent Purdue, deserves the credit. They're a fearsome and intimidating bunch that probably has about a 0.5 WAR over other student sections. But this sounds more like Dakich acting sore about being the butt of a Aaron Craft joke. Let's face it: that's a murky place where nobody associated with college basketball wants to be.

In summary, way to go Krush. Sorry you and your benefactors have to pay so much for this year's squad.

CPL Playoffs

Sunday was the quarterfinals of the Chicago Public League Playoffs with Chicago Curie squaring off against Simeon Career Academy in the headlining nightcap. Illinois head coach John Groce caught the game while Kansas head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Jerrance Howard sat a few seats away. Self and Howard were there for Cliff Alexander, Groce for Simeon junior and Illini commit D.J. Williams.

Curie won 71-64 despite a young Simeon team giving Cliff and Co. all they could handle. Cliff finished 16 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks. Simeon forward Ed Morrow endeared himself to many an Illini fan by not backing down from the Cliff monster, even blocking him several times. Morrow finished 18 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.

D.J. finished with nine points and five rebounds, but kept Simeon within striking range and gave them a lead late in the fourth quarter with some big-time buckets. Some other tidbits about D.J.'s game also surfaced, courtesy of Sun-Times high school prep editor Michael O'Brien.

That's an interesting development in the progression of D.J. Williams, especially for a 6-foot-7 kid generally categorized as a wing player. Especially so if O'Brien described him as a calming presence for a Simeon team high on talent but low on experience and ballhandling.

Some talk of D.J. comparing to former Ohio State point-forward wunderkind Evan Turner was sparked in the wake of the tweets. It's an undeniably awesome prospect to salivate over. But let's collectively stable that horse for now. Turner's point guard skills weren't actualized until he stepped onto Ohio State's campus, and it's an overwhelming comparison for D.J. after putting up a less-than-stellar junior season, commitment hype notwithstanding. We can at least rest on the fact that Groce identified a talent with a diversified skill package that should be conducive at Illinois.

And here's the picture that capped the night. Feel free to caption in the comments.

The Return of an Old Friend

Perhaps lost in the midnight hours of a Sunday night were some tweets by a few of our freshman. It put me in a considerably better mood regardless of the downward spiral of the season.

D.J. Richardson swung through campus this weekend, and on an innocuous Sunday night, decided to hit the gym with Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn.

Full disclosure: I have an unabashed appreciation for D.J. Richardson. He hails from my hometown of Peoria, but even beyond that, he represents both P-Town and the Illinois basketball program in the best fashion. I miss his defense and clutch shooting.

Here he is, back in town and playing ball with our promising freshman. It gives me a kind of "rest assured" calm when thinking about the future of the program, especially when it seems like Jaylon and Kendrick look up to D.J. and what he meant to the team.

I wrote a short profile on D.J. about a year ago, right before his Senior Night game. It's probably one of my favorite things I've written. Here it is. You need guys like D.J. to lay the foundation for a good program.

Thanks to him and the other seniors last season, I think we have that. And it gives me hope.