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Old Jan 18, 2013, 06:43 AM   #1
Dan
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Northwestern 68, Illinois 54: 'We're not playing very good'

"The bottom line for us is we're not playing very good," Groce said. "We've got to coach better, we've got to play better. We've got guys in the locker room that (have) got to play better. Everybody's got to play better right now and everybody's got to pick it up, It's just the way that it is. No one's going to feel sorry for you."

The approach for the Illini all season has been the same. The execution during this recent rough patch is where the problems lie.

The three-pointers, which were falling better than 11 times per game early in the season, aren’t falling. Illinois went 3 for 20 Thursday. And teams are shredding the Illini defense. Thursday was the sixth time in the last seven games they allowed 65 or more points. They did that twice during the 12-0 start.

"The only way you can do that is doing what we do and not changing a whole lot. We're doing a lot of the same things we were doing when we were 12-0," Groce said after Reggie Hearn led five Wildcats in double figures with 20 points. "We approach it the same way, we game plan it the same way, we treat them the same way, we challenge them a little more and hold them accountable in areas we don't get the job done. We're not going to jump off a cliff or anything like that, I don't know what that does."

Marcus Jackson
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Illinois loss reminiscent of last year's collapse

After promising it would come out sharp and motivated following a dreadful performance Saturday at Wisconsin, Illinois instead stumbled on the defense end and struggled to get good shots on offense.

The result was the team's third straight loss after a 14-2 start and the grumbling that could be heard as a sellout crowd of 16,616 shuffled out of Assembly Hall was a reflection of the concern fans now feel.

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No Passing Zone

The last two games, without question, were the worst passing-the-basketball games in the last 25 years of Illini basketball. I've watched 95% of the televised games in those 25 years (and attended every home game while I was in school) and I can tell you that I've never watched back-to-back games where we looked so lost distributing the ball.

In the last two games, we have eight assists. Eight. Total. 80 minutes of basketball, eight assists. Which means that once every ten minutes -- twice per half -- an Illini player found an open teammate and he knocked down the shot and/or layup. Wait, what am I and/or-ing for? We don't find open teammates for layups. Once every ten minutes in the last two games an Illini player found an open teammate who then knocked down a shot. That's pretty unbelievable.

http://alioneye.com/2013/01/17/no-passing-zone/






Rob McColley

Last edited by Dan; Jan 18, 2013 at 11:04 AM.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 07:26 AM   #2
SteakSandwich
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It is no longer fun to watch. The shot selection is horrific and the fact that the entire team is cold scares me of another total collapse. It is starting to feel like these seniors just aren't winners. I really hope i'm wrong and Groce can turn this titanic around and get us in the tourney. This has to be the last loss to a team that we should win by atleast 15 everytime. Anymore games like this and the season is lost.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 09:29 AM   #3
Calvin
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Originally Posted by SteakSandwich View Post
It is no longer fun to watch.
Groce doesn't have anywhere to turn IMO. He needs a couple energy guys he can turn to, and just doesn't have them. He keeps saying he doesn't want to panic, but it seems like his choices are to stick with starters who can't perform or go to a bench that isn't any better.

Fans aren't going to show up for these guys, and I don't blame em.
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 04:02 PM   #4
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Groce doesn't have anywhere to turn IMO. He needs a couple energy guys he can turn to, and just doesn't have them. He keeps saying he doesn't want to panic, but it seems like his choices are to stick with starters who can't perform or go to a bench that isn't any better.

Fans aren't going to show up for these guys, and I don't blame em.
You know, I've got to say something here. I have been reading these boards for years. I am just about sick of all the fair weather fans posting on here. If you are a true Illinois fan, you support the team through thick and thin. I think we can all agree that NO ONE is happy with the way the team is playing right now, but to say that you aren't going to support them simply honks me off. How do you people honestly expect to be able to draw in elite talent, when they know full well that if the team hits a skid and isn't playing well that they won't receive any support? I know Illinois basketball has not been what any of us expect for several years now. I think we'd all agree that NO ONE is happy about it. If you thought that was all going to go away in year 1, sorry, but you were delusional. The team was over achieving a couple of months ago, and now they are under achieving. It's not the end of Illinois basketball. I've seen some people claim that the players don't care, yet you have a coach that gets of the microphone time in and time out and says that they do. Don't you think he knows those kids a little better than you do? Why compound the problem? I know the players can't say it for themselves so I'll say it for them.....if you refuse to come around because things are bad, then don't come around when things are good. Now go ahead and bash away. I really don't care. Illinois sports, however flawed they may be, deserve a much better fan base. GO ILLINI
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 04:12 PM   #5
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"We approach it the same way, we game plan it the same way, we treat them the same way, we challenge them a little more and hold them accountable in areas we don't get the job done."

I would have to agree, and it's possible that that is part of the slide: the Illini surprised almost everyone by coming out hot and getting some good early wins against excellent opponents (Butler, Gonzaga, & OSU). Those same wins prompted opponents to take the Illini a little more seriously, which translated into scheming to stop the things that we were doing successfully. You can't get by for very long on the same ol' stuff--and stuff gets old in about a half-dozen games these days.
The decrease in 3-pt makes is clearly (to me) due to three factors: 1) we're attempting shots without being as open & set as we were earlier, mostly due to a misinterpretation of the "keep shooting" JG philosophy that I'm sure he meant to be "keep taking GOOD shots when they're THERE". 2) To my eye, the outside shooters are not going up straight and square anymore...because the extra pass isn't being made, they're not quite as open, and as a result have to hurry the shot and launch before being set. That shot TG attempted last night when he was pinned against the high sideline and turned 90 degrees from the rim was the worst example I've seen. 3) Some of the guys seem to be resorting to launchinig 3's when they get gassed or grow tired of WORKING a posession.

I also think it's time to use zone (gasp!) as our primary defense. There are 3 starters (you fill in the names) who absolutely lose their opponents in man, and I don't see that changing given past performance. When you're playing an injury weakened team that has to run a Princeton offense and you can't cover the back-cuts after being made to look silly a couple of times...
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 07:45 PM   #6
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Simple when you think about it. Live and die by the three. We are in a horrible shooting slump. We have no other viable options when we are not shooting it well. We have no senior leadership. If we improve our shooting percentage we will still have a shot at the tournament, if we don't then bring on the NIT (maybe).

I believe in JG and am not going to judge him based on the group he inherited. I too drank the Kool Aid earlier but now choose to drink doses of reality. Hang in there Illini fans, JG will lead this program to a better place in good time. Go Illini (and baseball season is around the corner)!
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Old Jan 18, 2013, 10:27 PM   #7
IlliniSpine
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At this point I say play MLT. He still has a good shot and adds another ball handler and passer. His defense can't be much worse than what we've seen lately either.

Not saying this would fix everything but perhaps looking at our guards instead of just our bigs may help.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 01:51 AM   #8
Jimmy McNulty
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Originally Posted by Chief4Ever View Post
You know, I've got to say something here. I have been reading these boards for years. I am just about sick of all the fair weather fans posting on here. If you are a true Illinois fan, you support the team through thick and thin. I think we can all agree that NO ONE is happy with the way the team is playing right now, but to say that you aren't going to support them simply honks me off. How do you people honestly expect to be able to draw in elite talent, when they know full well that if the team hits a skid and isn't playing well that they won't receive any support? I know Illinois basketball has not been what any of us expect for several years now. I think we'd all agree that NO ONE is happy about it. If you thought that was all going to go away in year 1, sorry, but you were delusional. The team was over achieving a couple of months ago, and now they are under achieving. It's not the end of Illinois basketball. I've seen some people claim that the players don't care, yet you have a coach that gets of the microphone time in and time out and says that they do. Don't you think he knows those kids a little better than you do? Why compound the problem? I know the players can't say it for themselves so I'll say it for them.....if you refuse to come around because things are bad, then don't come around when things are good. Now go ahead and bash away. I really don't care. Illinois sports, however flawed they may be, deserve a much better fan base. GO ILLINI
Thank God there are still some rational fans out there. I won't try to add anything because I think you covered everything I felt while reading some people's posts last night.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 01:58 AM   #9
Groundhogday
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Simple when you think about it. Live and die by the three. We are in a horrible shooting slump. We have no other viable options when we are not shooting it well. We have no senior leadership. If we improve our shooting percentage we will still have a shot at the tournament, if we don't then bring on the NIT (maybe).

I believe in JG and am not going to judge him based on the group he inherited. I too drank the Kool Aid earlier but now choose to drink doses of reality. Hang in there Illini fans, JG will lead this program to a better place in good time. Go Illini (and baseball season is around the corner)!
There is a lot more wrong with this team than a shooting slump. Defense. Passing. Running the offense...

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Old Jan 19, 2013, 03:17 AM   #10
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You know, I've got to say something here. I have been reading these boards for years. I am just about sick of all the fair weather fans posting on here. If you are a true Illinois fan, you support the team through thick and thin. I think we can all agree that NO ONE is happy with the way the team is playing right now, but to say that you aren't going to support them simply honks me off. How do you people honestly expect to be able to draw in elite talent, when they know full well that if the team hits a skid and isn't playing well that they won't receive any support? I know Illinois basketball has not been what any of us expect for several years now. I think we'd all agree that NO ONE is happy about it. If you thought that was all going to go away in year 1, sorry, but you were delusional. The team was over achieving a couple of months ago, and now they are under achieving. It's not the end of Illinois basketball. I've seen some people claim that the players don't care, yet you have a coach that gets of the microphone time in and time out and says that they do. Don't you think he knows those kids a little better than you do? Why compound the problem? I know the players can't say it for themselves so I'll say it for them.....if you refuse to come around because things are bad, then don't come around when things are good. Now go ahead and bash away. I really don't care. Illinois sports, however flawed they may be, deserve a much better fan base. GO ILLINI
I get your point, but nowhere in Calvin's post did he say that he wasn't going to support the team. I interpreted it as him simply saying that at some point most people will not want to pay good money to watch bad basketball for two hours.

I admire your enthusiasm, but you're wasting your breath. Winning puts butts in the seats and brings excitement. Losing tends to have the exact opposite effect. It's the nature of sports. Our fan base isn't any special exception to that.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 07:25 AM   #11
SummerofGeorge
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There is a lot more wrong with this team than a shooting slump. Defense. Passing. Running the offense...
I understand that but all other aspects are connected to this. What is the one constant between the early season success and the current slide? Shooting. I agree in the sense that there are many other issues but good shooting cover those up and we aren't shooting well so the blanket has been pulled off.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 08:06 AM   #12
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This 3 game stretch is all about shooting, and specifically, 3 point shooting. When you don't make shots, everything else gets exacerbated. You hear coaches say that all the time. Carmody, Ryan and Tubby all sais the same thing in the postgame pressers. When you make shots, everything is easier. Carmody actually said "When we make shots, coaching gets a heck of a lot easier..." In the last 3 games, We are 7-60 from 3, and our opponents are 27-53. That, friends, in a nutshell is why we find ourselves in this rut. It's not "toughness", it's not personalities. It's not being able to hit the broad side of a barn while our opponents are scorching the nets.

We've actually been shooting terribly for awhile, but in the last 3 games we are 7-60 from 3. That is almost unfathomably bad. It's naive to think that you don't need good 3 point shooting to win in today's CBB. Yes, you can try to go to the basket, and we've tried that recently, but if you shoot 11% from 3 point range, especially when you are guard oriented, you are going to lose. Combine that with the fact that our opponents are shooting 27-53 from 3 in those same games, and you see why we are 0-3. NO team can win with that type of discrepancy. To put it in context, Northwestern made 5 of their first 6 on Thurs night. It takes us 60 to make 7, it takes them 6 shots to make 5. That's how prepostrous this stretch has been. And a 5-6 stretch is not even that out of the ordinary. Teams go on stretches like that all the time, even crappy ones like Vanderbilt the other night.

This type of shooting streak happened last year too, so who knows if that is just what these guys are, but there is no doubt IMO that these guys are capapble of at least average shooting. You might say that the quality of shots has led to those percentages, but I don't buy it. I would say at least 50 of those threes have been open and in rhythm, and we haven't done a bad job in contesting the 3s of the other guys. They've just been making them and we haven't.

If we keep shooting 11% from 3, yeah, we probably won't win another game this year. I've got to think however, that this historically bad stretch will start to turn around. They have to keep shooting.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 08:20 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Chief4Ever View Post
You know, I've got to say something here. I have been reading these boards for years. I am just about sick of all the fair weather fans posting on here. If you are a true Illinois fan, you support the team through thick and thin. I think we can all agree that NO ONE is happy with the way the team is playing right now, but to say that you aren't going to support them simply honks me off. How do you people honestly expect to be able to draw in elite talent, when they know full well that if the team hits a skid and isn't playing well that they won't receive any support? I know Illinois basketball has not been what any of us expect for several years now. I think we'd all agree that NO ONE is happy about it. If you thought that was all going to go away in year 1, sorry, but you were delusional. The team was over achieving a couple of months ago, and now they are under achieving. It's not the end of Illinois basketball. I've seen some people claim that the players don't care, yet you have a coach that gets of the microphone time in and time out and says that they do. Don't you think he knows those kids a little better than you do? Why compound the problem? I know the players can't say it for themselves so I'll say it for them.....if you refuse to come around because things are bad, then don't come around when things are good. Now go ahead and bash away. I really don't care. Illinois sports, however flawed they may be, deserve a much better fan base. GO ILLINI
Well said
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 10:17 AM   #14
SummerofGeorge
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Originally Posted by IlliniJeffrey View Post
This 3 game stretch is all about shooting, and specifically, 3 point shooting. When you don't make shots, everything else gets exacerbated. You hear coaches say that all the time. Carmody, Ryan and Tubby all sais the same thing in the postgame pressers. When you make shots, everything is easier. Carmody actually said "When we make shots, coaching gets a heck of a lot easier..." In the last 3 games, We are 7-60 from 3, and our opponents are 27-53. That, friends, in a nutshell is why we find ourselves in this rut. It's not "toughness", it's not personalities. It's not being able to hit the broad side of a barn while our opponents are scorching the nets.

We've actually been shooting terribly for awhile, but in the last 3 games we are 7-60 from 3. That is almost unfathomably bad. It's naive to think that you don't need good 3 point shooting to win in today's CBB. Yes, you can try to go to the basket, and we've tried that recently, but if you shoot 11% from 3 point range, especially when you are guard oriented, you are going to lose. Combine that with the fact that our opponents are shooting 27-53 from 3 in those same games, and you see why we are 0-3. NO team can win with that type of discrepancy. To put it in context, Northwestern made 5 of their first 6 on Thurs night. It takes us 60 to make 7, it takes them 6 shots to make 5. That's how prepostrous this stretch has been. And a 5-6 stretch is not even that out of the ordinary. Teams go on stretches like that all the time, even crappy ones like Vanderbilt the other night.

This type of shooting streak happened last year too, so who knows if that is just what these guys are, but there is no doubt IMO that these guys are capapble of at least average shooting. You might say that the quality of shots has led to those percentages, but I don't buy it. I would say at least 50 of those threes have been open and in rhythm, and we haven't done a bad job in contesting the 3s of the other guys. They've just been making them and we haven't.

If we keep shooting 11% from 3, yeah, we probably won't win another game this year. I've got to think however, that this historically bad stretch will start to turn around. They have to keep shooting.
Well stated. We can analyze this until the cows come home but it boils down to this. When you are not shooting well you start to press and it impacts all aspects of your game. When the ball is going in the basket you are looser and energized, also impacting all aspects of your game. You could argue that we need more mental toughness to get through the shooting slumps though. Maybe what we need is a team of sports psychologists
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 10:32 AM   #15
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Well stated. We can analyze this until the cows come home but it boils down to this. When you are not shooting well you start to press and it impacts all aspects of your game. When the ball is going in the basket you are looser and energized, also impacting all aspects of your game. You could argue that we need more mental toughness to get through the shooting slumps though. Maybe what we need is a team of sports psychologists
Well, it is shooting...but it's also quality of shots. Early on we were getting a lot of open looks in transition and even in our half-court offense to a degree. Now we are taking a lot of forced shots in the half-court that aren't really very clean looks.

A lot of that is a byproduct of defense. Can't run if you aren't getting stops. And you also can't run effectively if you have to send your guards to the defensive glass because your front line can't board.

So it's not just quite as simple as not hitting shots IMO.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 10:46 AM   #16
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I understand that but all other aspects are connected to this. What is the one constant between the early season success and the current slide? Shooting. I agree in the sense that there are many other issues but good shooting cover those up and we aren't shooting well so the blanket has been pulled off.
You shoot better when you get good shots.

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Well, it is shooting...but it's also quality of shots. Early on we were getting a lot of open looks in transition and even in our half-court offense to a degree. Now we are taking a lot of forced shots in the half-court that aren't really very clean looks.

A lot of that is a byproduct of defense. Can't run if you aren't getting stops. And you also can't run effectively if you have to send your guards to the defensive glass because your front line can't board.

So it's not just quite as simple as not hitting shots IMO.
This. And we also did a better job of passing earlier in the season, though that was never a strong suit for this team.

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Old Jan 19, 2013, 11:34 AM   #17
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Well, it is shooting...but it's also quality of shots. Early on we were getting a lot of open looks in transition and even in our half-court offense to a degree. Now we are taking a lot of forced shots in the half-court that aren't really very clean looks.

A lot of that is a byproduct of defense. Can't run if you aren't getting stops. And you also can't run effectively if you have to send your guards to the defensive glass because your front line can't board.

So it's not just quite as simple as not hitting shots IMO.
It's not just that simple, and I'm with you on our shot quality not being as good as it was, but we're talking about 11 freaking percent. Every shot could be fading away with a hand in your face and you should be able to do better than 1-9. If we were talking about going from 40% to 30% or something like that, we could talk about the quality of the shots, but 11% is almost laughably bad, and you would think it would turn around just by regression back to the mean. The majority of our looks from 3 have been in rhythm and open. Yes, there have been some poor shots, but not "11% poor".

Also, having watched the games, I don't think we've done a terrible job defending the 3 either. Most of those shots have been guarded well. It's certainly a priority for the staff. Yeah, there have been some open looks for the other team but the discrepancy in quality of the shots between us and our opponents is nowhere near the difference in the shooting percentages. I think a lot of it is that we've run into some random hot shooting at the same time that we've gotten ice cold.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 11:58 AM   #18
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Every shot could be fading away with a hand in your face and you should be able to do better than 1-9.
No, you won't shoot better than 1-9 taking nothing but bad shots.

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Old Jan 19, 2013, 12:30 PM   #19
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We have taken some bad shots, granted, but we have missed a lot of good shots too. That is simply a fact. Our guys definitely have a shooting block right now, and it's not just one or two guys. It will make a big difference if we break out of this slump.

There are definitely other things to fix, but the shooting slump, including missing a lot of very makeable shots, is a reality. There is no point in denying it. As the previous poster said, if we were hitting only 25% of our shots say, one could point to the defenses, but we are missing a LOT of good shots as well.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 12:46 PM   #20
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Our shooting:

1. Need more transition opps from our D to either penetrate the paint or kick out for 3
2. Need better passing. Despite what people have said, we were a "great passing team" at the beginning of the season as Bilas said....we have COMPLETELY gone away from that.
3. Better shot selection. Yes, 1/9 is bad but I would estimate 3 of the 9 were bad shots. Need to improve on that but we should still be hitting 1/6 of our good shots! This is physical/mental fatigue IMO.
4. JG needs to go back to the bare bones basics with practice like we supposedly had at the beginning of the season. Thinking too much, not reacting enough.
5. Need fresh shooters. Hell, put MLT in for a few minutes. I'm sure he could at least go 1/4 or 1/5.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 12:50 PM   #21
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At this point I say play MLT. He still has a good shot and adds another ball handler and passer. His defense can't be much worse than what we've seen lately either.

Not saying this would fix everything but perhaps looking at our guards instead of just our bigs may help.
LaTulip will get absolutely abused by any of Michigan, Indiana, or pretty much any other B1G team's guards besides Sobolewski and whoever Penn State has. He can come in for a spark and quick 3, but I really doubt he can get serious minutes.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 12:51 PM   #22
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We have taken some bad shots, granted, but we have missed a lot of good shots too. That is simply a fact. Our guys definitely have a shooting block right now, and it's not just one or two guys. It will make a big difference if we break out of this slump.

There are definitely other things to fix, but the shooting slump, including missing a lot of very makeable shots, is a reality. There is no point in denying it. As the previous poster said, if we were hitting only 25% of our shots say, one could point to the defenses, but we are missing a LOT of good shots as well.
If you take bad shots, rushed shots, guarded shots and start to miss shots then it tends to carry over even to open shots. The way out of a shooting slump is to get easy shots, shots in rhythm, shots that can help you build confidence. We just doesn't get enough easy shots in this offense, the way it has been run recently.

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Old Jan 19, 2013, 12:51 PM   #23
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LaTulip will get absolutely abused by any of Michigan, Indiana, or pretty much any other B1G team's guards besides Sobolewski and whoever Penn State has. He can come in for a spark and quick 3, but I really doubt he can get serious minutes.
Yup, wasn't talking serious minutes...more as a microwave guy.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 02:09 PM   #24
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Illinois needs a team shrink. You KNOW what's in their heads now ... OMG OMG OMG we're going down the same path as last season, my draft stock is disappearing, why can't I make any shots, etc. Which translates to pulling the trigger too early, not seeing the entire court, being stiff on defense, thinking too much, being 1" off on your shot which translates to clanks, slumping shoulders, and 2-5.
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 04:04 PM   #25
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Illinois needs a team shrink. You KNOW what's in their heads now ... OMG OMG OMG we're going down the same path as last season, my draft stock is disappearing, why can't I make any shots, etc. Which translates to pulling the trigger too early, not seeing the entire court, being stiff on defense, thinking too much, being 1" off on your shot which translates to clanks, slumping shoulders, and 2-5.
This is all true, and it's why they are going outside the system and forcing things.

Watching our offense the last few games has been really painful. No movement, poor spacing, poor/little screening, and way too many times that a guy tries to make a play on his own. They have to start trusting each other and trusting the system/coaching. The big question is...can they do that?
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