Saturday, January 07, 2006

Terrible Loss in Iowa City...48-63

Make no mistake about it - Iowa is a good basketball team. They play great team 'D' and know how to really move the ball on offense. Their big guys (Haluska and Brunner) are quite skilled. Alford is a great coach. This team is going to the big dance in March where it wouldn't surprise me if they made some noise. Today, they just had more energy, hustle, and plays to make the difference. This outcome was somewhat predictable given what happened a few nights ago. Iowa had a poor game and we won an epic battle in Champaign against SPARTY. The bounce-back for Iowa and the let-down for Illinois was no surprise to me.

All that being said, we played our worst b-ball game in almost 2 years. This was NOT an upset. I can't remember the last time our squad looked so bad on offense and defense. Dee had his worst game as an ILLINI, especially shooting the ball. Sure the officiating was lousy, but it was bad for both teams. We spent way too much time complaining about the bad calls than rising above them. Great teams find ways to play through tough circumstances, including terrible officiating. Great teams raise their game beyond that of their opposition and the men in stripes; and usually find ways to win in hostile enviros.

ILLINOIS, right now, is not a great team. We are a good team that has some serious flaws. Now is the time to make incremental improvements in our game, especially on offense. Nobody is playing better defense in the country right now. We have some young contributors in Frazier and Smith. They will grow up quickly. But, here are the areas for improvment, in my opinion:

1) Too much complaining and not enough execution, especially when the calls go against us. We need to remember we're not getting paid to make the calls. It becomes a distraction and a weakness when we become consumed by this phenomenon. It happens to everybody. We don't want this reputation in the league as being 'whiners'.

2) Unbalanced offense, we need to find ways to score when Dee has an off night like tonight. Become more than one dimensional on offense. Dee won't go for 34 points each night, and we don't want him too. Augustine, Randle, and McBride need to step it up now. Yes, I'm calling them out for 30 points a night. Will they answer? Are they men?

3) Don't play like people owe you something. They don't, and you won't get it either. BIG-10 play has commenced; there are no gimmies. It's hard to win on the road - as it should be. This is a power conference, perhaps the best in the country. So don't think that you deserve the calls or the seas to part. They won't. Play hard for 60 minutes, even on the road when you're down when it doesn't seem like a call ever goes your way.

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