Pentagram: Vandy @ Illinois

Coach Weber once again got the drop on a former fellow Boilermaker with a 79-68 win over Kevin Stallings and Vanderbilt in  Champaign.  The Illini continue to look impressive on offense – especially against teams without overly physical guards.  When you shoot 60% from the field you’re going to win.  Of course the coaching staff remains concerned about what happens when you don’t shoot all that well and you can’t man up defensively(see Utah second half, Bradley, Clemson first half).  Still, give me a team that can score and needs to improve their defense…

Five points in the pentagram.

  • McCamey again controlled the game, setting the tone early with hot-shooting and continuing to provide floor leadership.  If not for a bad stretch in the second half in which he tried to put Vandy away by pressing for transition hoops (leading to several bad passes and turnovers), his line would’ve looked better.  Still wish he finished better at the rim.
  • Mike Davis was quiet on offense, but still played a solid game by rebounding, moving around and passing on offense, and yes, playing defense.  Think about that for a moment.  In the past you could pretty much count on very little from Mike D if he wasn’t scoring.  This game shows some maturity and more proof that Weber’s ethos has begun to sink in with some of the juniors.
  • The bench was pivotal. Very nice games by Keller and Jordan, and Billy Cole continues to scrap and battle ala Lucas Johnson.  Cole will get hot one of these nights and hit some shots.  Semrau logged a few minutes and banged around in there as well.   It would be nice to get Legion involved, and I’d still like to see more of Griffey and Stan Simpson (my brother says he can dominate stretches of practice).  That said, a good nine-man rotation is viable.
  • The Freshmen guards continue to learn on the job and provide moments of exhilaration and frustration.  Brandon Paul with some nice drives and jumpers but still looks pretty clueless on Defense.  Richardson with great shot selection but looks surprisingly shaky handling the ball.  And yet if at least one of them is on with his shooting, our backcourt look so much better than in recent years…
  • The second half was very Big Ten-ish, with Vandy fouling hard and often in an attempt to disrupt the Illini offensive rhythm.  I didn’t really like the clock-management style we went to, but I can understand it after the rash of turnovers and poor decisions (which could’ve let Vandy back in it if not for some bad shooting by them).  Teams will try to hack us down when we’re shooting that well, and some will succeed.  When that happens will Illinois have enough savvy to dump it inside, drive, and play tough defense on the other end?  Time will tell.
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