The 84-78 loss to Purdue last night puts the Illini on a giant precipice heading into the next couple of weeks. Road games against Northwestern and Penn State are certainly winnable, but Illinois could just as likely lose both and spiral towards the bottom of the conference. It’s too bad the Orange and Blue couldn’t bring that level of effort and intensity earlier in the year, which probably would have been enough to ensure victories over most non-conference opponents.
Meanwhile, Dave O’Brien still continues to yammer about the technical foul on John Hart and how that brought the Boilers back to life, yada-yada-yada. No Dave, how about, Purdue hit 9 of their next 12 shots after that (including some contested ones). Five points to the pentagram…
- McCamey is becoming unstoppable. He had 28 points and 9 assists against probably the best defensive backcourt in the conference. They had no answer for him once he turned his shoulders. And this despite missing six free throws and getting fouled every. single. time. down. the. floor. DMac needs help from the other guys and you always wonder about this mentality, but since his benching he’s certainly become one of the dominant guards in the Big 10.
- Tisdale can’t buy a break. Again, like the MSU game, two of Mike’s fouls were complete travesties. You teach your big man put his hands up and stand his ground, which is exactly what happened. Foul on Mike. I guess the refs have him in their sights now (remember Archibald?) and will continue to give the advantage to whoever he’s guarding. It’s too bad because he can play a little when allowed to. The refs were pretty bad all night, and after the technical foul, every call went PU’s way. Typical. Several loose ball call, fouls, and Robbie Hummell traveling to draw a crap foul on DJ, would’ve made a difference. Not to mention the incessant hand-checking Purdue always seems to get away with.
- Too bad DJ and Paul can’t dribble. The two freshmen have nice offensive games but seem to get nervous when asked to handle the ball more than a couple of seconds. Is this something that will improve? I hope so. As I recall, Luther Head was a turnover machine his first two years and he turned out OK. DJ’s defense has definitely improved and Brandon at least brought some intensity (though he still struggles with physical play and finishing plays).
- Purdue played well but… they got a little lucky with the refs and two freshmen having career games in the second half. Normally you want guys like Barlow and Hart taking contested jumpers. The Illini D wasn’t that terrible, PU just hit 7 of their first 8 in the second half and seemed to get key calls anytime Illinois made a run.
- Illinois’ D wasn’t that good either. No doubt Weber is complaining about the D in the post-game again. I wish he’d stop with it. You tell someone their bad enough, it becomes so. Part of the problem is the help-philosophy that continually leaves shooters open. Part of the problem is lack of beef in the paint, which leads to losing the position battles. You could make up for some of this by employing more zone, but Coach seems to see that as some kind of battle-of-wills rather than a strategic move. I still say if a guy like Jajaun Johnson is going on a tear, you insert Semrau with instructions to beat him up for as long as possible, but Coach doesn’t seem to trust his bench much either.