In this edition of the Writing Illini roundtable, the staff takes a look at the suspension of Illinois power forward Darius Paul. The staff begs to ask the question: how much will the Darius Paul suspension hurt the Illinois Fighting Illini in 2014-15?
Ricky: The Darius Paul suspension could end up hurting the Illini, but it doesn’t necessary have to.
Right after the 2013-14 season, I thought Paul would definitely be a starter at PF for Illinois. Now, that starting PF changes to freshman Leron Black. Coach Groce can use both Black and Michael Finke at the PF position. Because of this, the Illini should be fine without Paul for a season.
However, that answer could change if Black and Finke flop in 2014, but I don’t see that happening.
Ryan: The Darius Paul suspension will certainly hurt the Illini from a depth standpoint up front, at least on the surface. On one hand, Leron Black seems like the most likely option to fill minutes at the power forward spot, but make no mistake, there will be a learning curve as he transitions to the college game. On the other hand, there still remains a possibility that John Groce could backfill his roster spot with a 5th year transfer, but there doesn’t seem to be anything imminent on the horizon at this time.
Until that day comes, however, there is a hole regarding backup minutes in the post that must be filled, and that hole leaves both the Illini and Nnanna Egwu exposed to potential trouble against teams with a strong front court.
Austin: The suspension may hurt at first, but I truly feel like Paul was a bit of a wild card. He was not really going to be a starter this year, despite what some say. His presence off the bench will be missed for sure, but that will be the biggest aspect. Another positive is that this was done in May, not October, so there won’t be a surprise of a bench guy missing right before the season. Coach Groce will adjust where needed, and all will be okay.
I would love to see Paul back in orange and blue next season, but I am more concerned about him as an individual before a basketball player. Get well, Darius
The Writing Illini staff includes lead editor Ricky Widmer, co-editor Ryan Kraemer, and staff writer, Austin Jabs.