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The 2013-14 Season in Review, Part II: The Departed

This season saw Illinois send off longtime Illini, Joseph Bertrand, and short-time Illini, Jon Ekey.

Ben Woloszyn-USA TODAY Sports

Joseph Bertrand never made much sense, both in his progression and regression. The points and takeovers seemed to come and go, as willy-nilly as willy-nilly can be. This was discussed in depth during his senior night farewells.

Bertrand is never average. He either under performs or plays at the absolute peak of his abilities. His place is a place he's never at.

Frankly, he never took on the spotlight role, despite Illinois starving for one all year long. I cannot accept Bertrand as a role player because he could jump 50 inches high and dunk backwards and do all kinds of neat things. Those types of freaks need to be stars. Joe just wasn't.

Jon Ekey made far more sense--the mid-major transfer who stands out in non-conference play, then slowly resigns into a niche role as the season grinds on. His niche was that of a hard-working swing guy who occasionally murdered Iowa with 3-point buckets.

Both players fell out of the starting lineup when Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn broke through, a point in which the old seniors fell firmly into supporting roles. It's where they should have been all along. Simple statistics say so, too.

B1G Record with Joseph Bertrand and Jon Ekey Starting B1G Record with Joseph Bertrand and Jon Ekey Not Starting
2-8 6-4

That's a difference of--let me check my math here...carry the one, move that decimal and...yes--FOUR wins. I'm under the impression that one great win or two decent wins would have pushed us into the NCAA Tournament, so four wins makes quite the mark on the season. Matt Silich analyzed this in far more detail in his year-end analytical piece, which you can read here.

The transitional point was the win at Penn State and the end of the losing streak. The freshman started, played well and that was the end of Bertrand's career as a starter. It felt like upgrading to Spotify premium. The same content, same library, but no more annoying commercials for Just pure, uninterrupted Kendrick Nunn.

The season is over, though, so there's not much use in reliving the weird period of advertised online music. Bertrand and Ekey should have been bench guys from the start--there's nothing wrong with that. We'd have been much worse off without those guys on the roster, and I question how we'll fare next year without them. Here's what we need to replace.

51.2 Minutes per game

15.8 Points per game

8.6 Rebounds per game

In terms of advanced statistics, the loss of Jon Ekey looks to hurt far more than the loss of Joseph Bertrand.

PER ORtg DRtg eFG%
Jon Ekey 15.3 (2) 120.0 (1) 100.0 (3) .538 (3)
Joseph Bertrand 13.8 (4) 101.5 (8) 103.2 (8) .523 (4)

The numbers in parentheses are their respective ranks on the team. In Ekey, Illinois loses a bench player, who, in limited time, succeeded at everything. In Bertrand, Illinois loses a player who wasn't that great but dunked real hard sometimes.

I don't know what their futures hold. Ekey should end up overseas, where he'll knock down threes and make a nice paycheck for a few years. Bertrand is athletic enough to get an NBA look, maybe even a Summer League cup of coffee, but he'll almost surely end up overseas as well.

It'd be nice to have them contribute off the bench at Illinois for one more season, but that won't happen. That's okay. Illinois will get on fine without them.