Illinois Preview

by Chris Mackinder | November 29th, 2007

2006-2007 Record: 23-12 (9-7 Big 10, T-4th)
Postseason Games:

3/8/2007 Penn State Big Ten Tournament W 66-60
3/9/2007 Indiana Big Ten Tournament W 58-54
3/10/2007 Wisconsin Big Ten Tournament L 53-41
3/16/2007 Virginia Tech NCAA L 54-52

Returning Statistical Leaders:
11.4 ppg – Shaun Pruitt
7.5 rpg – Shaun Pruitt
4.5 apg – Chester Frazier

Starting Lineup: Key Stat:
C Shaun Pruitt 6’10 Sr. 51.3 FT% and just 7 assists last year
PF Brian Randle 6’8 Sr. 57.6 FT%; fouled out six times in ’06-‘07
SF Rodney Alexander 6’7 Jr. Two double-doubles to start ’07-’08 season
SG Trent Meacham 6’2 Jr. Team’s best 3-point shooter (40.2%)
PG Chester Frazier 6’2 Jr. 35.5 FG%, 32.1 3-point %, 59.4 FT%

Key Player Losses: Warren Carter (13.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, Rich McBride (9.6 ppg). Carter was a great body to have in the post while McBride brought tons of energy but wasn’t a liability at either end of the floor.

Impact Newcomer: Demetri McCamey. McCamey is a typical Illinois guard; he’s a physical defender who loves to dish the rock on offense. He won’t score 15 ppg his freshman season but he’ll likely be the future of Illinois’ backcourt.

Tough Question: Can Illinois score enough to win? Defense does win championships, but at some point, Illinois will have to break 60 points in a big game. Winning some games in the 50s will work, but teams like Michigan State and Indiana have offenses capable of scoring 80 points easy. Illinois will have to learn how to play in the 70s or it could be a long season.

Too Much PT: Steve Holdren. The South Dakota State transfer put up nice numbers in his two years with the Jackrabbits. But in Big Ten competition, he’ll likely struggle. He’s a nice piece to the puzzle, but he shouldn’t get double-digit minutes each night.

Get Him on the Floor: Jeff Jordan. Yes, this is all about pedigree. No one expects Jeff to mirror his father. No one expects him to come close either. But he surely knows how to make a mid-range jumper. He’s not on scholarship for a reason, but if the Fighting Illini have problems scoring, Jordan could provide an enjoyable spark.

Point Guard Impact: Frazier will be Illinois’ defensive spark. Don’t be surprised if he’s averaging close to three steals per game. That, coupled with six assists a night, is a deadly combo for opponents.

Final Word: He’s not exactly Deron Williams or Dee Brown, but Chester Frazier is pretty good. His ability to take over a game can’t be overlooked. Frazier, who specializes on defense, also will be the spark plug for the Illinois offense while Shaun Pruitt and Brian Randle will be the big bodies finishing in the middle. But like most of Weber’s teams, defense will be key. Illinois will play a lock-down style with the following motto: first team to 60 wins. Illinois will score 60+ enough to make the NCAA Tournament, but anything better than a lower seed (No. 9-12) is optimistic.


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