Saturday, March 14, 2009

BIG-10 Tourney Wrap ...

It was a good start Friday night against Michigan at least. We had the Wolverines on the ropes at the start of the 2nd half. The 10-point margin wasn't indicative of the performance, up 20 at one one with ~ 10 minutes to go.

Saturday was a different story against the Boilermakers (not a bad club). They got up big after an Illinois drought spanning two halves and 12 minutes w/o any field goals. Ugh!. Nothing kills a deep tourney run faster than empty possessions (turnovers, bad shot-selection, missed field goals, etc..). Purdue came out early hot, especially from behind the arc, and didn't let up the rest of the way. Not having Frazier wasn't really a factor. We never got into our rhythem on offense all night. Davis, Meachem, McCamey, and Tisdale were mostly non-factors until too late.

Sure, the officiating was atrocious - skewed in strong favor of Purdue. But make no mistake about it, they were the better team tonight. We simply don't have any reliable scoring we can count on night in and out. Teams that make deep tourney runs not only play strong defense but tend to average 80 points / game or more. It's quite simply not enough to be physical. You have to have scoring to complement the defense. By far, the biggest tourney indicator of success is margin of victory.

So, I stand by my original prediction for Illinois basketball this year. We'll be fortunate to win one game next week. Anything more than that has to be considered a pleasant surprise. Reaching the SWEET 16 is highly unlikely. Factor in a huge loss in leadership with Frazier out (broken hand in practice this week) and you have a recipe for disappointment.

What needs to happen going forward? Here's how I see it:
  1. Mike Davis - my man, take charge next year. You are by far the most prolific and consistent scorer we have on offense. Take the game over when you're feeling it and ride the wave. We need you to average ~ 20 points / game next season and you're capable.
  2. Tisdale - man- up my friend. You need to get much stronger and more aggressive. Seems like every night you get man-handled in the post, or at least give up more inside than you should in terms of rebounds and points.
  3. Legion - work harder. You're not that good. Atheletic ability may have carried you at Oak Hill in high school, but you have a long way to go to reach your full collegiate potential. Start with patience. Learn to position yourself better on both ends of the court. Basketball is more than jacking - up empty 3-pointers. Ugh! What you expect and what you're capable of producing couldn't be a larger gap.
  4. McCamey - if this is going to be your team to lead next year, you have to learn patience, the meaning of a good possession (no empty results), and clock management. Cut down on the turnovers. You make too many of them. And keep your head in the game for at least 40 minutes. Your missing-in -action moments are far to many and frequent.

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