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Old Dec 12, 2012, 07:12 AM   #1
Dan
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Illinois 64, Norfolk State 54: 'D.J.'s a tough kid'

His upper-shoulder contusion proved playable, and he gave the folks something to cheer about in leading No. 10 Illinois to a 64-54 win Tuesday.

Richardson scored seven straight points during a four-minute stretch with the game in the balance and helped his squad improve to 11-0, a first for the program since the 2005-06 season.

"D.J.'s a tough kid. He wants to compete to win; all these guys do," first-year Illinois coach John Groce said. "That's what they've been about since we've gotten together with them; that's what makes them fun to be around. They play for Illinois; they play for one another."

Marcus Jackson
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Illini little sluggish in 64-54 victory

"Over the course of 40 minutes, I don't think our effort, energy level, our focus was where it has been," coach John Groce said.

Illinois shot a season low 35 percent (21 of 60), made only 6 of 23 3-pointers and hit only 16 of 27 free throws, allowing the Spartans to stay in the game from start to nearly the finish.

"I want to give them credit in the second half," Groce said. "I thought we competed on the defensive end. We found a way to grind it out."

Shannon Ryan
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Illini feeling fortunate

Shuffling off the floor following Illinois' 64-54 victory over Norfolk State Tuesday night, an Assembly Hall usher posed a question many patrons were already thinking.

"How come the easy games always seem so hard?"

After rising to No. 10 in the national rankings on Monday, unbeaten Illinois had to scratch and claw for every edge it could find before pulling away in the final two minutes against the Spartans (6-6).

Brandon Paul scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but Illinois made a season-low six 3-pointers and had to overcome a season-worst 35 percent shooting while improving to 11-0.

Tupper
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Illinois 64, Norfolk State 54: Just the facts

"Over the course of the 40 minutes, I didn't think our effort level, our focus was where it's been and that's my responsibility. I didn't have them ready to play. We'll figure it out, these guys are tough guys, I love being around them." - Coach John Groce

http://www.illinihq.com/sports/illin...ust-facts.html
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Just Expect The Opposite

1) We're maddeningly inconsistent. Which has to improve before we face the toughest Big Ten in a generation. We could lose to anyone.

2) We could hang with anyone. We have a star, a bunch of solid shooters, and when we're on, we can look mid-2000's good.

http://alioneye.com/2012/12/11/just-...-the-opposite/
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 10:31 AM   #2
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The good news is Richardson (11 points, three rebounds) said hell be all right for Eastern Kentucky (9-0). Im feeling good, get some treatment tomorrow, and Ill be ready for Sunday, he said.
Point guard Tracy Abrams (nine points), who left the game briefly with a shin contusion, is expected to be fine, too. The Illini, who got contributions off the bench from Sam McLaurin (six points, six rebounds) and Joseph Bertrand (nine points, seven rebounds) have today off from practice.


Thank goodness our PG is ok and DJ is as well. Hopefully it won't effect their play Sunday. We will need them!
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 10:33 AM   #3
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We all thought that DJ's injury was his head. I didn't even think of his shoulder. We thought he had a concussion from his head slamming into the floor. We also thought it was Tracy's knee. We are not good doctors on the sideline.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 01:02 PM   #4
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I like how Coach Groce takes the blame for the poor performance then Brandon Paul comes out and takes it.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 01:27 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by CaliforniaIllini View Post
I like how Coach Groce takes the blame for the poor performance then Brandon Paul comes out and takes it.
Yup, showing leadership from the top and within the team. Just want it to translate more against lesser team and continue vs. top competition.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 10:35 PM   #6
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I don't know if you guys have been following Titus' rankings on Grantland, but they're pretty enjoyable.

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9. Illinois

After the Illini's performance at Gonzaga on Saturday, I think it's safe to say that if the college basketball season ended today, Brandon Paul would be the Big Ten Player of the Year (at the very least) and John Groce would be the National Coach of the Year runner-up behind Ben Howland. But years of Bruce Weber getting fans' hopes up in November and December only to crush them by March have taught Illinois fans to expect the Illini to implode. Even though Weber is no longer at the helm, I don't really blame Illinois fans for believing that this hot start will eventually fizzle, primarily because the team's success so far is mostly due to their prolific 3-point shooting. One of these days, Illinois will go cold in a big game and their shooting won't be able to mask their other weaknesses.

But what if they don't go cold? I mean, we're more than a quarter through the season and Illinois still leads the country in made 3s per game with 10.4. They struggled shooting against Norfolk State last night, but why shouldn't we interpret that performance as an anomaly instead of them finally crashing back down to earth? After all, it's not like their impressive shooting displays have come exclusively on their home court. Plus, this isn't a short, unathletic mid-major team we're talking about here. Illinois isn't running some Grinnell College gimmick offense where they jack up 3s because they can't play real basketball. No, the Illini have legitimate athletes who can do plenty of things other than shoot 3s. It's just that they aren't awarded three points for doing those other things, so they choose not to do them as often.

Now, don't get me wrong. I obviously don't think the Illini are going to go undefeated and I don't think they'll even finish within three games of the regular-season Big Ten title. But to react to Saturday's win at Gonzaga by saying, "Well I guess Gonzaga must've been overrated" is unfair to Illinois. Maybe they will eventually cool off and get blown out by one of the other top-10 teams in the Big Ten, but until that day comes, Illinois deserves to be mentioned among the nation's best.

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Old Dec 13, 2012, 12:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mattcoldagelli View Post
I don't know if you guys have been following Titus' rankings on Grantland, but they're pretty enjoyable.
Wow, that was a really good article. I like his writing style, and he seemed to sum up the Illini fairly well. I don't think Illinois will get blown out at all this year, but that's just my personal opinion : )
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Old Dec 13, 2012, 01:31 PM   #8
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Two other great things about the article that Matt has posted, besides the Illinois love.
He rags on Missouri, a perennial fan favorite
He makes an example of the Gonzaga walk-on air guitar, calling the guy out by name and posting the video. Solid reporting, that.
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Old Dec 13, 2012, 02:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mattcoldagelli View Post
I don't know if you guys have been following Titus' rankings on Grantland, but they're pretty enjoyable.
Mark Titus is awesome, even if he is a Buckeye.

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