D Needs Work

Illinois’ loss to Villanova  Tuesday night was a lost opportunity on the big stage.  Just like last week’s game against Miami, this was a chance to beat play a highly ranked team and show something.  The Illini did show something – fighting back from a double digit deficit, playing some good basketball…  But then, once they tied the game at around the 8-minute mark, Illinois proceeded to let Villanova score the next five possession and go 8 for 9 to close it out.  Must…   Defend…  Better….

Say one thing for the offense:  our boys took it inside this time.  Rayvonte Rice and Malcolm Hill went at them.  But the stat of the game:  Rice with no free throws.  And he was hammered multiple times.  Just don’t know how the refs let that happen…

At one point the cameras focused on Jay Wright working the officials hard, and the ESPN guys talked about the ‘strange relationship’ between refs and coaches.  Next play- tic-tack reach-in on Egwu.  Very next play, junk call on Egwu under the basket.  And meanwhile Rice and Hill getting hammered…

We have a point on the officiating as it relates to defense here.  The guys usually adjust to the game.  This one was hard for that adjustment, because they really let them play, and then they realized it was getting out of control and called a bunch of cheap fouls.  Egwu, in particular, looked confused and too passive at the end of the game during that closing run by ‘Nova.

But it comes down to defense in the end.  You have to find a way to get stops at key points.  You have to recognize those key points and play better D.  Could Coach Groce have switched to zone at some point to change things up?  ‘Nova didn’t seem to want to shoot the 3…  Could we have run an earlier double-team at their big guy?  Could we just play a little quicker and smarter at those points and get stops?  Surely that’s what the staff and players are asking themselves right now as they get ready for Oregon in Chicago.  The Ducks usually score pretty well also.

 

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One thought on “D Needs Work

  1. The Ruber thinks Nova scored on 10 straight trips at the 8 minute mark. We continue to NOT be able to stop penetration. I laugh when I hear how folks think Abrams could’ve been the answer to that problem. He was the biggest Ole defender we had last season. Kendrick Nunn seems to have forgotten how to play defense, which hurts us as he was our best perimeter defender last year as a Freshman….which is VERY rare. Egwu can’t be expected to play 35 minutes a game, chase the pick and roll out to half court every time and then drop back down under the basket in time to stop the penetration off one of the others who either refuse or are incapable of stopping it and NOT get tired or into foul trouble. While its true there were some cheap fouls against Nanna, and Ray in particular was getting pummeled, this has been going on with Egwu for 3 years and Rice for at least a year….they need to be better and adjust, this is NOT new to either Nanna or Ray.

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