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. Tom Izzo calls Denzel Valentine’s play during foreign tour ‘unbelievable’

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Denzel Valentine will be in contention for Big Ten Player of the Year this season.

  2. Four-star 2016 recruit Juwan Durham commits to UConn

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    UConn landed its second four-star recruit in the Class of 2016.

  3. Four-star 2016 center sets four official visits

    Sep 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Jayce Johnson is focusing on five schools as he’s set four official visits.

  4. Rivalry games highlight Georgetown’s non-conference schedule

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    John Thompson III AP

    Georgetown has some very intriguing games on the non-conference slate.

  5. Report: Arkansas signee Ted Kapita signs professional contract

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Arkansas Razorbacks Anderson looks on as his team takes on the LSU Tigers during the first round of the SEC men's NCAA basketball tournament in New Orleans Reuters

    Arkansas won’t be getting a boost from the four-star big man.

  6. Pitt adds junior college guard for 2015-16 roster

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    Big East Basketball Tournament - Syracuse v Pittsburgh Getty Images

    Pitt bolsters its backcourt with the late addition of a junior college guard.

  7. Coastal Carolina moving to Sun Belt

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Conference realignment is still happening at the lower levels as Coastal Carolina makes a move to the Sun Belt.

  8. Summer mixtape of New York 2016 guard Shamorie Ponds (VIDEO)

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Shamorie Ponds is one of the best bucket-getting guards in the 2016 class.

  9. Malik Monk’s highlights from Nike Global Challenge (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT

    (USA Baketball) (USA Baketball)

    Malik Monk is rated No. 6 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.

  10. Iowa State adds three-star power forward Solomon Young

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:44 PM EDT

    Nike Nike

    It’s the second commit in as many nights for the Cyclones.

  11. Siena applies for waiver on behalf of Javion Ogunyemi

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Jimmy Patsos AP

    Javion Ogunyemi averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 2014-15.

  12. Syracuse, Georgetown to officially renew rivalry on December 5

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The two teams last met in the 2013 Big East Tournament

  13. Indiana dismisses Emmitt Holt

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Indiana dismissed the forward after his second alcohol-related incident.

  14. Bill Self remains “confident” Cheick Diallo will be eligible this season

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Cheick Diallo is still waiting to hear from the NCAA Eligibility Center.

  15. Five-star 2016 guard Frank Jackson set to announce his decision

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Frank Jackson will make his college decision on Tuesday.

  16. New mixtape of five-star 2016 guard Rawle Alkins (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp 2015 - Day One Getty Images

    Rawle Alkins is one of the best players to come out of New York in years.

  17. Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan makes another statement wavering on potential retirement

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    boryan Getty Images

    Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan seems to be taking things slowly when it comes to deciding his future.