Readers, listen to my first world problem. I'm more excited for this Illini football game than any other during my 2.2 seasons of attending the school, but I'm not going to be able to watch it. I'm going to be in Miami tailgating with friends for the U's game against Nebraska. What a troubled, challenged life I lead. Hopefully, Illinois loses by 50 so I don't feel too bad about missing it live. Just kidding. Maybe.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. We'll 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.
@Champaign_Room #AskTCR how big was @deebrown11 hiring for the program? @DeronWilliams and @DwyaneWade giving #Illini publicity since hiring— Wildcat Farmer (@nwhitted86) September 16, 2015
I love Dee Brown, but I think the effects of his hire are always going to be a bit exaggerated. It is absolutely fantastic to have him with the program, but fans tend to have extremely high expectations when former players are hired because of nostalgia.
It's really nice to have somebody with the passion and love for the University of Illinois that Brown has, but that's probably not going to turn Illinois into a top-tier basketball program all on its own.
@Champaign_Room what can we expect from Te'Jon Lucas if he commits? #AskTCR— nick (@NickTillery3) September 15, 2015
I know a bit about Te'Jon Lucas, but I'll leave this one to the pros. Here's site manager and CROOTIN' expert Jim Vainisi:
Sup. Right now, Lucas' biggest asset is his elite court vision and decision making; recruiting analyst Cory Evans even went as far as saying that the 5'11 guard is "one of the top five passing point guards in the class of 2016." You can probably toss his athleticism into that conversation as well (don't see guys at his height dunking too often). Lucas' jump shot doesn't appear to be the most consistent aspect of his game, but it's improving and it would give the Illini a much needed scoring threat from the position.
But here's the other thing -- Lucas is very young compared to other players in this class (think Malcolm Hill). He's just starting to turn a corner in his development and, honestly, it's almost unfair to already be projecting his talent two, three years down the road. So there's some definite upside, but with that could come some more immediate concerns about getting acclimated to the physicality at the next level.
In terms of his impact on the 2016-17 roster, I'm still not 100% sold that Lucas could come in and be the starter from Day 1. There's a chance he could be going up against two seniors in Tracy Abrams and Jaylon Tate and they'll have a sizable head start on the job. But I do believe Lucas would be the most talented option the moment he reports to campus.
Best uniform combination to date? And if you say the all-grays, then what would be the best orange-blue-white combo, specifically? (Personally, I’m glad they didn’t repeat the Orange-Orange-Blue mix on the Saturday after the postponed game on Friday in week one.) - WilliamsForThreeeeeee
While the Galloping Ghost uniforms were certainly fun for a game, and I wouldn't mind if they're worn once a year, I don't think they're quite as aesthetically cool as the other uniform combinations available to the Illini.
I'm personally a huge fan of white helmets, orange jerseys, and white pants, but I have a feeling that's not the majority opinion. The blue jerseys were awesome this weekend as well, but I feel like orange is just the more "Illini" color. My favorite piece of equipment in the entire rebrand is the white helmet, so anything with that involved makes me a happy fan.
@Champaign_Room is a win on Saturday mean we start getting some national attention and maybe some votes in the AP poll?— Vince (@1900Dunbar) September 15, 2015
I think it absolutely does. A win over North Carolina, especially if it's not in some sort of flukey fashion, would lead to Illinois getting some votes in the AP poll (the school is already getting some votes in the coaches poll). It's difficult to fight off the media's perceptions of the team from the preseason, which all seemed far too negative, but a 3-0 start would probably be enough to launch Illinois into the Others Receiving Votes category.
@Champaign_Room You have to draft a 5 player team for a foot race around the world only using players from MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA. WhoYaGot?— Illini Update (@IlliniUpdate) September 16, 2015
Really love the creativity of this question. Y'all should ask me more non-Illini stuff like this! I'll use one player from each league, and then a second NBA player because that's my favorite professional sports league.
JOHN WALL, PG, Washington Wizards
John Wall is in the conversation with Ty Lawson and a couple other players for the fastest man in the NBA. He's also the captain of my favorite NBA team, the Wizards, which makes him the obvious choice for my first NBA representative.
BILLY HAMILTON, CF, Cincinnati Reds
This is just the most obvious choice, right? Hamilton is probably up to a couple trillion stolen bases this season by now, and he's definitely the fastest athlete in baseball. Prince Fielder was the runner-up for this spot because of the comedic effect of watching him run. He's legitimately fast, too!
DE'ANTHONY THOMAS, WR/PR/KR, Kansas City Chiefs
SEEN A DEER http://t.co/6J7N8imM— DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (@BOSSLIFEDAT13) December 7, 2012
NATHAN MACKINNON, C, Colorado Avalanche
Admittedly, I used the aid of a Google search to help me with this one. My hockey knowledge is mostly limited to Blackhawks players and former Blackhawks players and I don't think any of them are fast enough to be considered for this. Apparently, MacKinnon is both extremely fast and somehow younger than I. MacKinnon was selected first overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, but I'm sure this honor is much more prestigious in his eyes.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook is another one of those guys in the conversation for quickest in the league. Plus, this team needs some ferocious leadership. With his absurd dedication to becoming the best at everything, I think Westbrook would be the perfect wildcard for a mostly mild-mannered team.
@Champaign_Room What effect will the Fed's decision about interest rates Thursday have on the US econo-err Illini bowl game chances? #AskTCR— Mike Zagorski (@mzagorskijr) September 16, 2015
Capital One Bowl. Ole Miss. Be there.
@Champaign_Room Am I the only one that feels a bit more at ease about Illini football since Cubit is leading the squad? #askTCR— BigToe (@BigToe66) September 15, 2015
You're absolutely not the only one-- I think most fans feel this way. I also feel a little bit of that comfort, just because I don't have to fear Tim Beckman making a ridiculous statement to the media each week. But, I think Beckman deserves a good amount of credit for how the team has performed thus far, which obviously nobody is going to be willing to give him.
@Champaign_Room Would you rather be a top FCS or bottom FBS school? #AskTCR— Tim Cermak (@toweringCU) September 16, 2015
This question has me completely stumped. Would I rather be Indiana or North Dakota State? On one hand, being North Dakota State comes with a lot of winning and passionate fans around me. It also comes with a sort of emptiness and time spent wondering just how good my school could be at the highest level. And then there's Indiana, where nobody really cares and it feels hopeless, but you still get the occasional exciting match-up with top tier opponents.
I guess if my FBS team has a slim chance of being good once in a while, like Illinois or Kansas, then I'd take the FBS team. But if I'm destined for failure every single year for eternity, I'd take the winning FCS school.
This question spawned from my extensive breakdown of the Western Illinois game, in which I sing the praises of FB/TE Tim Clary.
The loss is pretty big, just because Illinois came into the season with only two tight ends with any experience whatsoever, Clary and Tyler White. Now, either JUCO Andrew Davis or JUCO Ainslie Johnson is going to have to step up in a big way. Davis has shown a decent ability to block, but hasn't shown the pass-catching prowess that was promised when he committed. Johnson hasn't received enough playing time to be judged yet, but I'm not optimistic about his production this season. It's a tough situation, and I certainly think we could see freshman Caleb Reams burn his redshirt if another TE gets hurt.
@Champaign_Room What is your threshold for whether Dudek comes back? Minimum record? Close games? keep out for entire season?— Don Smith (@DCSThree) September 15, 2015
To me, this is a personal decision for Dudek and that's all it should come down to. If he's still hurt past around six games into the season, I personally wouldn't want him to come back, but I'd be okay with it. It's his health and his potential redshirt season, so whatever Mike chooses is fine with me.