Skip to content

Christmas Wish List: Who is Illinois’ Deebo?

Dec 19, 2012, 4:33 PM EDT

Brandon Paul AP

Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.

What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.

Gotta have it list-topper: A bully on the block

Illinois is what it is. They are a team loaded with perimeter talent and three-point shooters and they play to their strength. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you have someone playing as well as Brandon Paul has this season and you have shooters as good as Tyler Griffey, Joseph Bertrand and DJ Richardson. What Illinois is missing, however, is that bulldog in the paint, their Deebo. They don’t really have anyone that has proven to be a defensive force inside, a guy that can wipe the glass clean while making it difficult for opposing big men to get position on the block.

Is Nnanna Egwu the guy? He’s the best athlete on the Illini’s front line, but he’s not a very good rebounder. Sam McLaurin has been incredibly active on the offensive glass this season, but he hasn’t been great on the defensive side of the ball. Illinois is 139th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage. They will probably never be a great defensive team, but the easiest way for them to improve is to eliminate second chances opportunities.

Stocking stuffer: Brandon Paul consistency

It’s tough to truly be consistent when your game is built around three-point markmenship. That is, more or less, Paul’s game. This season he has become more aggressive off the bounce, especially in pick-and-roll situations, and he’s making better decisions on when to shoot, which is part of the reason he’s climbing NBA Draft boards after a hot start to the year. But that doesn’t change the fact that his game is centered around his jumper, and on the nights that jumper isn’t going down, the Illini can look rather mediocre. Jump shooters, by nature, are streaky. Illinois just needs to hope that Paul spends more time near the peaks and less down in those 2-12 valleys.

Planning on re-gifting: Three-point gunners

43.2% of Illinois’ field goal attempts come from behind the arc. 39.0% of their points this season have come via the three-ball. They quite literally live by the three and die by the three, and while they haven’t “died” yet — they are still undefeated despite a handful of close calls against mediocre competition — it’s a risk that John Groce is going to have to deal with all season long. Would it be nice if they attacked the basket and got to the foul line more often? Sure, they’d be more balanced, but it would also take away from some of their aggressiveness and what they do best. Maybe they just need to hope Brandon Paul continues to go off against top competition.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Senior mixtape of 7-foot-6 UCF incoming freshman Tacko Fall (VIDEO)

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    It’s fun to watch Tacko Fall dominate high school competition.

  2. Class of 2015 four-star wing down to three schools according to report

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Maverick Rowan is reportedly focused on three schools.

  3. UCF guard will transfer

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 15:  Brandon Goodwin #11 of the UCF Knights drives to the net during an NCAA basketball game between the Houston Cougars and the UCF Knights at the CFE Arena on February 15, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. UCF won the game 56-54. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) Getty Images

    UCF is losing its third-leading scorer from last season to transfer.

  4. Fred Hoiberg makes surprise appearance at Iowa State fantasy camp (VIDEO)

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg returned to Hilton Coliseum to give one final pre-game speech before a fantasy camp.

  5. Re-ranking recruiting classes: Who are the 25 best players from the Class of 2004?

    Jun 29, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    It should not be a surprise who the best player from this class ended up being.

  6. Bo Ryan to retire from Wisconsin after next season

    Jun 29, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Ryan has never finished below fourth in the Big Ten.

  7. St. John’s lands Italian guard, eighth member of 2015 recruiting class

    Jun 29, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Mullin has completely turned over the St. John’s roster.

  8. So what happened to the chair Bobby Knight threw in 1985?

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Knight’s most famous outburst may be lost to history.

  9. USA Basketball: 16 college players to tryout for the Pan-Am Games

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    USABasketballlogo

    There are 22 total players participating in the trials.

  10. UCLA lands four-star center, second 2017 commitment

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Steve Alford AP

    Steve Alford now has a pair of 2017 commitments.

  11. LSU lands commitment from in-state star

    Jun 28, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Johnny Jones has done an excellent job of recruiting his state in recent years.

  12. South Florida gets transfer guard from Big Ten program

    Jun 28, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Penn State's Geno Thorpe (13) drives against Iowa's Melsahn Basabe on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. Iowa won, 82-70. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images) Getty Images

    South Florida brought in an experienced guard who can contribute after sitting out a transfer season.

  13. Robert Carter has dropped nearly 20 pounds during time at Maryland

    Jun 28, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    robert carter Getty Images

    Maryland transfer Robert Carter has worked on his conditioning since arriving from Georgia Tech.

  14. USA U19 team beats Croatia in FIBA World Championships

    Jun 28, 2015, 1:19 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The USA U19 team is off to a 2-0 start at the FIBA World Championships.

  15. Four-star Class of 2016 big man cuts his list to 10

    Jun 28, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    (Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com) (Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com)

    A top-100 player in the Class of 2016 is down to 10 schools.

  16. Syracuse lands transfer center from the Big East

    Jun 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Syracuse picked up a transfer big man that should help in the future.

  17. Mixtape of four-star Class of 2017 guard Trae Young (VIDEO)

    Jun 28, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT

    Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Getty Images

    Trae Young has been one of the best players of spring.