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. Washington will need Fresno State transfer to step forward in 2014-15

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT

    Lorenzo Romar Lorenzo Romar

    Lorenzo Romar spoke positively of Robert Upshaw’s progress, and with the Huskies’ lack of interior depth the Fresno State transfer will be a key figure this season.

  2. Four-star 2015 guard/forward narrows list to five

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Among the schools still in the running for this Top 100 prospect’s services is LSU.

  3. 2013 Sweet 16 run pays off in a big way financially for FGCU

    Sep 18, 2014, 8:43 PM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida Gulf Coast v Radford Getty Images

    FGCU’s Sweet 16 run in 2013 paid off in a big way for the athletic department.

  4. Missouri announces plans to renovate Mizzou Arena

    Sep 18, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT

    Kim Anderson, Mike Alden Kim Anderson, Mike Alden

    Mizzou Arena’s just ten years old, but the school has found some areas that need renovating.

  5. Former College of Charleston assistant joins staff at The Citadel

    Sep 18, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT

    Chuck Driesell, Tom Koopman Chuck Driesell, Tom Koopman

    Freeberg makes the move from the College of Charleston to The Citadel, with J.D. Powell headed in the opposite direction.

  6. Kentucky’s John Calipari offers his thoughts on USA Basketball critiques

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    John Calipari AP

    Calipari tweeted that if the coaches gained an advantage from helping revitalize USA Basketball he “doesn’t begrudge them in the least.”

  7. Top-40 Class of 2015 guard sets a decision date

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    kerwin roach AP

    An important member in a 2015 class lacking guards has set a decision date.

  8. Kentucky’s John Calipari gives away mattress, pillows to Big Blue Madness campers (VIDEO)

    Sep 18, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Taylor Strategy Taylor Strategy

    John Calipari helped some campers waiting for Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness sleep a little easier by giving away a mattress and some pillows.

  9. Baylor incoming recruit will not play in 2014-15

    Sep 18, 2014, 1:08 PM EDT

    Scott Drew AP

    Baylor will be without an incoming recruit for the 2014-15 season.

  10. Coach K responds to USA Basketball criticism during press conference

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Coach K responded to recent criticisms lobbied at him about unfair recruiting advantages as USA Basketball’s coach.

  11. A key piece for Providence is cleared for full-contact practice

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Karvel Anderson, Kris Dunn AP

    Providence is hoping a key member of its backcourt will be healthy this season after two straight years with a shoulder injury.

  12. ACC program uses LeBron James’ Homecoming as recruiting tactic for local five-star wing

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    One five-star prospect heard a recruiting pitch centered on LeBron James’ homecoming to Cleveland.

  13. Throwback Thursday: Vince Carter highlights at North Carolina (VIDEO)

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:10 AM EDT

    vince carter

    Vince Carter highlight reels are still the best.

  14. 2017 guard Trevon Duval’s freshman year mixtape (VIDEO)

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:25 PM EDT

    Jon Lopez/Nike Jon Lopez/Nike

    With Isaiah Briscoe moving on to the college ranks next summer, Duval could be the next elite guard produced by the Playaz Basketball Club.

  15. UAB to open season with third annual ‘Hoops on the Haasephalt’

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptq5odriytgxyzrimznizmmymtbkzgnhmji1owvlyjhi AP

    Last year’s Hoops on the Haasephalt event attracted nearly 4,000 fans on the UAB campus.

  16. Top 2015 prospect emphatically states he’s ‘100 percent’ committed to attending LSU

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:26 PM EDT

    Ben Simmons (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) Ben Simmons (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Despite rumors to the contrary, one of the best players in the Class of 2015 is 100 percent committed to attending LSU next year.

  17. Wisconsin students waste no time purchasing tickets for 2014-15 season

    Sep 17, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Bo Ryan Bo Ryan

    “The Grateful Red” snapped up every available ticket within five minutes Wednesday morning.

  18. Penn State begins preseason training with new strength & conditioning challenge (VIDEO)

    Sep 17, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

    Patrick Chambers Patrick Chambers

    The Nittany Lions return five of their top six scorers from a team that finished the 2013-14 season with a 16-18 record (6-12 Big Ten).

  19. Jim Boeheim calls Yahoo’s Coach K story ‘completely off-base’

    Sep 17, 2014, 4:04 PM EDT

    Jim Boeheim AP

    Jim Boeheim is not one to bite his tongue around the media.