Pentagram: Illini v. Sparty

Another late collapse for the Fighting Illini.  Yesterday’s 63-57 loss at East Lansing was another case of failure to finish for Illinois.  Much like earlier losses to Clemson and Michigan, the good guys just didn’t have enough left to pull out the win.  MSU finished on a 12-3 run in the final five minutes to take the lead and keep it.  The Illini looked out of sorts and a little bit clueless in the end as they consistently passed it around the perimeter then jacked up bad looking shots while the shotclock wound down.  Chester Frazier was all about calling the young guys out for the way they bickered and caved at the end.  Let’s hope the team listens to him, because Illinois will need wins from the two home games coming up this week.

Pentagram = Five Points…

  • The Sports Illustrated jinx – Mike Davis featured prominently in SI’s feature on the Illini Big10 Renaissance.  As per Rules of the Universe, he had two subpar games this week with the issue in newstands.  Davis needs to toughen up mentally and physically if he wants to take full advantage of his talents.  The MSU bigs slammed him around and were in his head at the end.  Other teams are definitely more aware of Davis but we could do a better job trying to get him the ball.  When your starting guards go 1-17, the bigs have a valid complaint.
  • Motion stalls – We like all the assists and the unselfish play, but when the motion stalls out, when it becomes pass around the perimeter and panic, it’s no good.  When you get the other team in the bonus early but fail to get to the line with regularity, the motion has failed.  This game was reminiscent of last year’s Arizona game (a turning point) in which the Illini seemed more concerned with running the clock down than scoring the final ten minutes.  I still say we need a handful of set plays for key situations.
  • Good floor game by D-Mac – although he couldn’t hit a shot, he did a good job of controlling the offense (until the end), and more importantly, playing defense.  Hopefully this is another step towards the elusive complete game by him.  You’ll look at his shooting percentage (0 for 9) and say I’m crazy, but who else you putting in?  I think D-Mac ought to go to the archives and watch some tapes of Kiwanne Garris.  Kiwanne was the killer at getting his team to and taking advantage of the bonus.  That guy was all about drawing fouls and converting from the line.
  • Weird sub pattern by Coach.  When you’re getting absolutely clobbered on the boards, why do you insist on keeping 6-5 Brock at Power Forward?  I would’ve had Semrau in there, especially the way Mike Davis was playing.  They actually couldn’t stop Tisdale and he sat too long at the end, though he was having a tough time rebounding too.  You just knew the way the Spartans were playing, they were going to their patented jack-and-crash offense.  Sure enough, most of their final field goals came off offensive rebounds.  I would’ve had our biggest rebounders in there and dare them to make an outside shot.
  • A Top 25 Team? Probably not this week, but having watched some of the other teams in the Top 25, the Illini deserve to be there.  If they can shrug this off and defend the home court this week, they’ll get there.  The only problem is OSU and Wisconsin are another pair of physical teams with bruising frontcourts.  If we can’t improve our rebounding, it could be trouble.
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