Brumby's Daily Column: October 18, 2005

Brumby looks at some of the news articles that are revolving around college athletics for the day and provides some thoughts on them and the world of Illini sports.


Peter Venkman: Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

Yep, that was the mood of the IlliniBoard today.

Normally my Monday morning routine involves hitting the sleep timer until 6:45 in the futile effort to give me that extra fifteen minutes of rest I need for a "hard day's work." Once I eventually roll out of bed at 6:45 I make the mad rush to take a shower and update the Daily News Links before I head out to work. Unfortunately this morning was different. Sure, I had still used the sleep timer more than I should have from 6:05 - 6:30, but then I heard it … the text message indication (Jack Johnson's The Horizon Has Been Defeated) on my phone went off, so I got up to check it out, and I read this:
Collins to ku. Its officially vomit day
Of course, I think this is just a friend trying to pull my leg because we had earlier joked about vomit day being when the White Sox make the World Series, and then Sherron Collins commits to Kansas. So, I respond to him with:
>It happened?
The reason I responded with this is simple, I had always expected Collins to eventually select Kansas over Illinois and Iowa, but I thought he would wait until at least visiting Illinois next weekend, so I was a little bit surprised it the announcement came after his visit to Kansas, and before he decided to visit Illinois.

Sherron Collins' selection of Kansas over Illinois (as at the end of his recruitment Iowa was never really in the picture) is a further blow in the recruiting perception of the Illinois program, and a big miss for Bruce Weber and his staff.

Is this recruiting miss catastrophic? Of course not as no one player is a catastrophic miss, but Bruce Weber stated early in this recruiting season his need to replace Dee Brown. Unfortunately, all the guards Illinois was recruiting decided to attend a different college and Illinois is left without a replacement (at this time) in a key position for the Class of 2006, point guard, and that leaves giant questions about the team in 2006-2007 no matter how you look at it.

Don't get me wrong, I was hoping Sherron Collins would attend Illinois, and I think he would have been a great replacement for Dee Brown at the point guard position, but one player does not make or break a program.

The problem with the miss here is the increased perception that Bruce Weber and his staff cannot recruit the elite players.

Why is this perception there? Simple, the staff has lost out on all of the elite talent they have recruited against the elite programs (Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky).

In Bruce's first Fall as Illinois Head Coach, Peoria Native Shaun Livingston selected Duke over Illinois, in a very publicized recruiting battle that included the infamous "Brian Cook jersey incident" and me having to shut down the message board for a night thanks to the vitriol being spewed by message board posters.

In the next summer, another blow was struck as Homewood-Flossmoor's Julian Wright opted to attend Kansas over Illinois and Arizona. This was a shocking development as Kansas was not listed by Julian during the summer, and then after his visits to Arizona and Illinois, Kansas re-entered the picture, and Julian committed without going to the Kansas campus.

Then this year, after a Final Four run, and a 37-2 season, Illinois fans (me included) thought Illinois was in the right place to land that elite talent that had eluded Bruce Weber in his previous two seasons at Illinois, but it was not to be. Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer decided to attend Duke over Illinois earlier this summer. Then Brandon Rush selected to attend Kansas over Illinois late in the summer. Then Derrick Jasper selected Kentucky over Illinois. Today it was the third strike in the summer of 2005 as Crane's Sherron Collins announced his decision to attend Kansas over Illinois, without even going on the official visit that was "promised" by Collins' representatives to both Illinois and Iowa for recruiting him the longest.

Is the problem that Bruce Weber cannot recruit? I don't think we can go that far, yet. But it is obvious Bruce has struggled to land that superstar recruit that would fill out a class.

The most recent Illinois coach whose recruiting prowess was questioned was Lon Kruger, especially after he lost Lance Williams and Bobby Simmons to DePaul and Corey Maggette to Duke. Illini fans thought he could not land the players it took to get a winner at Illinois, but that was not true.

Lon recruited the Illini's 2001 Elite Eight team with many "lesser known" recruits named Cory Bradford, Damir Krupalija, Lucas Johnson, and Robert Archibald.

What did all of these players have in common? They were lower ranked and many thought were recruits that were taken after the "stars" went elsewhere. But, while these players were key cogs in the Illini wheel, they were not the players that ensured Illinois would be a great team, these were other players Lon Kruger recruited: McDonald's All Americans Brian Cook, Marcus Griffin, and Frank Williams.

So what you had with Lon Kruger was a guy that missed out on many players, but got three superstars and started the foundation for the Illinois basketball program.

When you look at the Illinois roster right now, and what is projected of it entering next season, there is a very solid foundation of players and solid recruits, but it is missing that star player that will make every one around him better.

Bruce Weber has landed very talented players during his time at Illinois.

Class of 2004: Shaun Pruitt & Calvin Brock
Class of 2005: Jamar Smith, Chester Frazier, and CJ Jackson
Class of 2006: Richard Semrau & Brian Carlwell

I am really excited about the future of Brian Carlwell, and he could be that superstar recruit for Bruce Weber. Right now, he is on the fringe of where "superstar" recruits normally sit when it comes to the rankings, and he is being overlooked by the general population because Weber only beat out Michigan State and Tom Izzo for him.

If Bruce Weber and his staff at Illinois want to remove the label that has been attached to them by the media and many fans alike that they cannot recruit, they will need to land the "big fish." For some reason, Brian Carlwell was not considered a big fish, even though Scout.com's Dave Telep has him ranked as the No. 37 player in the Class of 2006.

Notice the one thing missing? The three McDonald's All Americans.

So who are these "big fish" left for Bruce Weber and his staff? I don't see any in the Class of 2006, but the Class of 2007 holds a lot of promise for Weber and his staff to shed the label that has been on them since last summer. They already had Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose into Champaign for Illini Madness. Both players witnessed the Illini raise their Final Four banner, and looked to be having a good time during the festivities.

IlliniBoard.com's Kedric Prince caught up with Eric Gordon and talked to him about his visit in this article. From the sounds of it, Eric enjoyed his time in Champaign and he plans on coming back at some point.

"This isn't the first time I've been to Illinois and I'm coming back. As far as other schools, I will visit Kentucky, Indiana and Notre Dame at this point."
As a note about his Notre Dame visit, Eric was in South Bend to watch USC sneak by the Domers on Saturday. (It still makes me smile to say Notre Dame lost).

If Weber can land one of these two players (and allow me to be greedy, but both), the perception that he cannot recruit will be removed as he will have landed that big fish in the recruiting world. Let's just hope it happens sooner than later because I don't want to wait another sixteen years before the next time I can cheer the Illini on in the Final Four.

Now on to some different news …

This afternoon I picked up my copy of the Pro Basketball Forecast from Barnes & Noble. In a previous Daily Column I provided the recaps of the Illini players in the pros, but in reading the book, there was one player that I did not see on ESPN.com's site: Robert Archibald. It looks like Arch is doing great for himself in Europe, and could be welcomed back into the NBA soon enough. Here is what Hollinger had to say about Archibald:

Archibald's projections based on last season are impressive, but they come with a major asterisk because they're based on only one season. Most of the other players in this list have three seasons of Euroleague play for us to examine, which is vastly more telling because the Euroleague season is so short (between 14 and 24 games, depending on how long a team stays alive in the postseason).

In Archibald's case, the Scottish forward didn't show nearly this kind of ability in his two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, nor during his college years at Illinois, so he'll have to repeat the effort before NBA teams start getting too excited about his prospects.
Archibald's forty-minute adjusted stats (or stats per 40 minutes of court time):
15.5 points, 14.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 54.0% FG, 16.50 PER


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