With Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball having lost four of their last five, your staff at The Champaign Room isn’t taking any win for granted anymore. This anxiety came to a head today as we discussed the upcoming game against Longwood.
Well, one of us discussed the game against Longwood, while everyone else had fun with the school’s name. See if you can spot who didn’t catch on.
Steve Braun (Thumpasaurus): I’m worried. We’ve been trying to force turnovers at the cost of leaving the lane wide open. If we apply pressure to longwood, we’ll just be inviting penetration. If Longwood is able to easily finish at the rim, it might be time for Plan B.
Sean Cler: PACK LINE DEFENSE
Steve Braun: Yo, is nobody else concerned with longwood finishing at the rim?
Sean Cler: I'm concerned with everyone we play finishing at the rim.
Brad Repplinger: Have to think Longwood might get hard in the lane.
Brad Repplinger: Really stiff defense.
Steve Braun: That's what i'm saying, though. Should we deploy plan b if that happens?
Brad Repplinger: Our guys have gotta have fast hands.
Brandon Birkhead: And I think we give up the lane easily because Underwood knows we can defend the interior anyways. So might as well do as well as you can from stopping the ball from getting in there.
Brad Repplinger: Any concerns about tempo? Pushing or pulling the offense at all?
Sean Cler: Brad, I’m concerned about getting shafted against Longwood. By the refs, of course.
Brandon Birkhead: I think our pace is strange. I don’t have numbers but we really don’t work that fast on offense imo but play this insane style on defense.
Brad Repplinger: Any word on Longwood's penetration at the rack?
Sean Cler: I think it's better when you slow it down and take your time, people seem to like that.
Brad Repplinger: Missing Leron could be a problem if they can push.
Brandon Birkhead: We have way too much pointless ball movement and over passing, but that tends to happen when you don’t have a number one scoring option.
Sean Cler: I like the way we move the ball around. I think right now it doesn't feel right, but eventually we will enjoy it.
Brandon Birkhead: Lol it doesn’t feel right because the offense sucks.
Brad Repplinger: All depends on rotation, yeah? Moving the ball around the perimeter could help...
Sean Cler: No, Brad, we HAVE to work hard to push it inside.
Brandon Birkhead: Yeah, especially since we don’t shoot the deep ball well.
Steve Braun: It just sucks that we don't have the length advantage you'd expect Illinois to have in this matchup. Nor do we particularly have girth.
Brandon Birkhead: But then teams will just play zone.
Sean Cler: I mean Leron is BIG. It's a shame not having a big body jamming up the middle.
Tristen Kissack: We’ll just let Trent Frazier shoot them out of their zone. Duh!
Brandon Birkhead: College basketball needs a defensive three second rule. Tired of teams playing zone and being able to just park a big man under the rim for the entire possession. It’s just bad basketball.
Brad Repplinger: You think Underwood is going to have a hand in the success of Wednesday, or will players need to finish on their own?
Sean Cler: I mean if someone has a big man taking up all the space, it helps to be even bigger. There's more than one way to get to the hole, especially when you have more size than them.
Brandon Birkhead: We’re playing Longwood. We’ll win by 25-plus easy because they can’t handle the pace of the game.
Brad Repplinger: Remember though, we're undersized.... Some people don't think that's a problem, but in reality they're lying to themselves.
Brandon Birkhead: It’s a problem, but it’s not that big of a deal. I rather us go smaller in some cases.
Steve Braun: I don’t know. I mean you'd hope Underwood doesn't let this happen, but late in the game, even against Longwood, we have to be aggressive until the finish and not just sit on it for the last few minutes.
Brad Repplinger: Oh man I HATE it when they peter out too early, especially when you know they can EASILY keep going.
Sean Cler: I think we have more stamina than them, but if we try to go too fast out of the gate, it could be over with pretty quickly.
Steve Braun: Yeah, I mean maybe it's just like baseless flashbacks to Robo Kreps and UIC or that Winthrop game and the Chattanooga incident, but man.
Brad Repplinger: ESPECIALLY with the lack of size
Steve Braun: After the stretch we've had, I see Longwood, and I go, "Oh please don't take it up the a**."
Austin Jabs: My fear is, and we have seen it a few times this season already, is they come out limp in the first half, like they they have to play catch up all game long and hope that they can stroke it from deep really well.
Steve Braun: I mean, yes, it's a new coach, but after the last few years and EIU and UTM, can you blame us for being insecure about matching up with Longwood?
Brandon Birkhead: If Underwood rolls out the same 5 and we go down 10 points, I may have an aneurysm. But Leron is probably out, so I wonder who he rolls with. Please be Kipper.
Brad Repplinger: Think Kipper can handle all that length?
Steve Braun: Come on man, we're building up Longwood too much. I think they're exaggerating.
Brandon Birkhead: You say that like we have anyone who can.
Brad Repplinger: At this point I think you can make anyone rise up a spot in the lineup regardless of size.
Sean Cler: I just know from what I've seen this year is if there are too many guys trying to do to much, it’s going to end up being a mess.
Steve Braun: This is where (Jeremiah) Tilmon would have helped so much. Like, how nice would it be if we could just add 4 inches when things get heavy.
Tristen Kissack: Any word on Leron’s injury yet? i want him out there, but Underwood doesn’t seem to care about protection.
Brandon Birkhead: Yeah, but by getting rid of Tilmon and Groce, we did get Underwood and Smith.
Austin Jabs: I think we have a few guys who can really handle the huge load that Underwood needs them to handle down low, but my fear is the stamina that they would need may not be there yet.
Steve Braun: We shouldn't need leron to handle Longwood, though, Tristen. We don't want anyone tearing something if they get out to a fast start we're not ready for.
Sean Cler: Tristen, how are we supposed to protect him? I say just throw him out there and see how they take it.
Brandon Birkhead: We should really start the bench this next game to send a message to the starters. Spicy G starting lineup. We need this.
Tristen Kissack: I just mean like in terms of wrapping it and making sure he’s safe, yanno?
Sean Cler: We need to change something. This starting lineup hasn't been working when we're down that much to start the game. It’s like our hands are tied and we’re just getting f****d.
Steve Braun: Yeah, but at the same time that happened against a talented team like Maryland.
Brad Repplinger: I’m going to move the subject a little bit, and talk shooting. We know this team can launch from just about anywhere, but would y'all say there are certain areas that are more sensitive than others?
Austin Jabs: I don't like Finke taking shots outside the rim. I want to see him stay down low and really dominate, really pound in there and cause some damage.
Brandon Birkhead: Austin, Finke can’t do that. He’s a three-point shooter in a 6’ 10” body. And having a stretch big man is awesome — just needs to actually hit them.
Steve Braun: I'm just really worried about the defense, it's been so bad, and it's almost by design. Really. One guy misses on a steal and Longwood can bust all over us.
Austin Jabs: Brandon, I don’t know. I think if you give him enough time he can really tear in there. He has good length, he just doesn't know how to use it.
Brandon Birkhead: He’s not strong enough and doesn’t have good low post instincts.
Steve Braun: Yeah, but he’s not thick enough.
Tristen Kissack: I’d just like to see us really come out strong.
Brandon Birkhead: Wouldn’t it be nice if we just won?
Tristen Kissack: It’ll be good to see how Ebo handles a decent-sized load.
Sean Cler: He's going to get a big load I think.
Brad Repplinger: Is he good with his hands?
Tristen Kissack: Oh yeah, Underwood said at the beginning of the season he’s the best runner on the team. His endurance will surprise a lot of people.
Austin Jabs: I would just like to see these guys use their mouths more. It seems like nobody communicates well.
Steve Braun: Everyone talks about length being the end-all be-all measurable as far as what's an attractive matchup, but you need more than just length to get good results banging down there.
Brandon Birkhead: The last few lines are borderline erotic.
Brad Repplinger: DUDE BRANDON LOOK AT THE LAST HOUR OF MESSAGES WE'VE LEFT YOU
Inside Brandon’s Head:
Sean Cler: You guys are the best.
Hope everyone had fun with this! Illinois vs. Longwood at State Farm Center on Wednesday night!
***UPDATE ~ 3:55pm***
Brandon JUST figured it out. Carry on.