Illinois 78, Maryland 67 POSTGAME

For those clambering for more minutes or less minutes for certain players, you have to Remember a coach sees so much more of the puzzle than we do as casual fans. Trust the process! Coach has to let players lose minutes and he has to make younger players learn what it takes to earn minutes. This team has the look of a team that has also bought in and I haven’t seen that look in YEARS!
Thank you. Every game is it’s own entity and matchups change.
 
For those clambering for more minutes or less minutes for certain players, you have to Remember a coach sees so much more of the puzzle than we do as casual fans. Trust the process! Coach has to let players lose minutes and he has to make younger players learn what it takes to earn minutes. This team has the look of a team that has also bought in and I haven’t seen that look in YEARS!
Exactly!!!! BU is trying to build a culture and that means playing the people who he believes have earned it. In the Wisconsin thread people were saying play Tev, AG and Samba win, lose or draw it doesn't matter what is a win or two more this year going to do. Well you can't tell me that this one win didn't do a lot for that team -- for this year and beyond. And yes, the Illini probably would not have won if not for Tev's great game. But they probably would have lost if AG and Samba had played over Adonis and AJ. Tev finally got his chance and made good on it. Does that mean he deserves more time than he had been getting and a longer leash? Yes. Does that mean he should be starting? Not necessarily. BU is the best person to determine that. But the emergence of Tev hopefully means BU has another piece on whom he can depend. But let's remember that Da'monte is just a sophomore and he needs minutes to improve too. I'd love to see AG get some more tick and hopefully he is ready to seize the opportunity when it is presented. But foremost the Illini need to get some more wins. More wins will go a long way to completing the culture change.
 
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Just got home from NYC. Drove up from DC early Saturday morning. First time I've been able to see the Illini play since Dec. 1999 (Self's first season) at the BB&T Classic in DC. Freshman Frank Williams putting on a show and then, down one point and out of a time out with 10 seconds left with a play drawn up, having a masterful drive to the hoop end with the ball rolling around the rim twice and falling off as the buzzer sounded.

I went with a friend/colleague here in DC who played basketball for Maryland long ago, and some of his family and friends from the NY area, where he lives. What an afternoon!

Some observations that those watching on BTN may not have picked up:

- I hadn't been in MSG in 20 years. They remodeled it several years ago and it looks great. Lower bowl was largely filled. Upper bowl completely empty. Still, quite loud.

- No mistaking it: this was a home MD game moved to MSG. And it was truly a home MD game. The full pregame Maryland thumping music/lights/player intro. Maryland's announcer on the PA call. A mere small section of Illini fans behind the bench and only a smattering of us elsewhere. Otherwise all MD fans. I sat about rim level down low behind the MD bench. One of only a handful of Illini in that part of arena.

- I hadn't been that close to the court at a college game in a while. What impressed me was the brutal physicality underneath, and the lightning quickness of the guards. Bruno Fernando is a beast. So is Adonis. So much meat on that guy. Anthony Cowen, though listed at 6'0" looked tiny out there, along with Dre.

- I don't know if anyone has noted this, but the crux of the game to me was Adonis replacing Girogi on Fernando in the first half. We finally began to play proper D when we were down 30-19. And leading up to that, Adonis' defense on Bruno was smothering and those guys were really going at it underneath. Very physical. Adonis is a man. Bruno acted like he was a man when Giorgi was on him. Adonis exposed him as a large boy as he began to wear him down late in the first half. You could actually see Adonis getting into Bruno's head. Fernando got angry, flustered, altered a couple shots, which he missed, and sputtered for a while. Adonis was just workmanlike, and the alpha male in that matchup. No temper like Giorgi. Just calm and physical and tough. He was by far the most mature player on the court, to our benefit. Fernando is prone to fouling and he had only one, I believe, all game. Without Adonis on him, we wouldn't have won, in my opinion. The guy would have put up 30. Giorgi had some nice offensive moves on Fernando and played fairly solid defense, but couldn't keep him in check. Adonis was the guy who did that. That made the difference at the margin for us, IMO.

- Dre. Wow. Big off the bench. He's making better decisions, though he made some poor ones early in the first half. At one point in first half he did something stupid (turnover, missed assignment) immediately followed by a time out. BU got in his face and was raging. Dre just took it, sat down, and paid attention. We saw what he did in the second half. Even when he makes an unwise drive and loses the ball, he's capable of forcing a turnover immediately, and recovering. And some of his drives and finishes were so pretty. That floater he made over Fernando in the first half (right in front of our seats) was just beautiful. Loved the film clip Dan posted of the locker room afterward. in which BU gives Dre (and Adonis) a huge hug.

- Tevian. At last. So happy for the guy. Nothing more to say. Get him more time and more shots.

- Ayo. Seeing him in person today was electrifying. Occasionally makes some poor choices (still drives and elevates without any idea of how he's going to bail out of it) but man does he have some game. And he played with swagger Saturday I didn't notice a month ago. In the second half the MD fans around me were literally saying out loud "He's a freshman?!" as in "We've got to put up with him for more than this season?!" Those behind-the-head passes he makes to teammates on the perimeter are immensely entertaining. Will enjoy watching him develop further.

- Giorgi. He just glows and has fun. Even on an off day like Saturday. So much savvier now than in early December. No more moving screens, thank goodness. Obviously an intelligent, talented guy who is going to contribute a great deal for us as he grows and learns to play the U.S. game.

- AJ didn't score much but played solid D. The three-point play he had late in the second half was important. His jumper was really off. No arc on the release. Very strange. And ugly.

- TEAM. These guys like each other. Palpable positive chemistry. The joy you could see in all of them late in the game when they took the lead for good --- for each other and the coaches --- was a delight to see.

- MD fans. Bad reputation for being sore losers. I've lived on and off in DC for more than 20 years (my third spell here) and they're couch-burners when things don't go their way. Very ugly. Some of the ones around me (up behind the MD bench) were just ripping Mark Turgeon in the last two minutes yesterday, catcalling him from the stands. So harsh. No one threw a bottle at me so I guess I got out of the Garden easy.

- Late in the game when we pulled ahead and intensified our defense, you could just see Maryland crumble. Turnovers, poor ball movement, hesitation. And we just went in for the kill. First time I've seen them do that with a very good team, and MD is very good, if young. They're going to be tough the next several years. Cowen's a mature floor general and can torch you. My buddy leaned over to me after he made a couple sweet drives early in the second half and told me he usually takes over the game in the final ten mins and carries them. And he was completely confident at that point that MD would win by at least 10. Not today. Ayo got in Cowen's head late in the first half. Beat him on a pretty drive to the bucket and then just looked at him and smiled as he walked to the line. They exchanged words, Ayo smiling. Next time down Cowen tried to smother him defensively and almost fouled him. Turgeon pulled him and sat him for couple minutes. Our freshman did that to their upperclassman leader. Loved it. LOVED it.

- When Trent got the turnover with around 1:30 to play, off that sloppy kick out that Cowen and and Fernando both pawed at, and hit Ayo in transition for the layup that put us up 68-61, I stood up and whooped as Ayo drove to the hoop. I was alone in that section, MD fans glaring at me. ZFG. It felt cathartic after so many seasons of frustration. These guys will no doubt lay some more eggs, but what I saw today from the underclassman gives me a lot of hope for the future. We were not a 5-14 team yesterday. At all. Our SOS may have served us well. These guys finally know what it is to hang around, bear down, and then put someone solid away. And that playing defense leads to some offensive rhythm.

Went out to see my cousins and Aunt in Connecticut for dinner after the game. Got up this morning in suburban and drove over to my mom's hometown to see my grandparents' old neighborhood and visit their graves. Drove back down 95 this afternoon with a huge smile on my face the entire way home.
 
New York
Just got home from NYC. Drove up from DC early Saturday morning....
Awesome post. Especially loved your bits about Adonis, which I think no one has mentioned on here, and Ayo vs. Cowen. Adonis really hasn't gotten much credit this season - good that Underwood recognized that he's useful in shutting down a powerful big. Hope he continues to play that role effectively for us - we need it.
 
Professional Social Distancer
Virginia
Just got home from NYC.
Thanks for the extra isights. Ayo and Giorgi definitely have bite. As cool and calm as Ayo seems - he loves mixing it up with opponents and doesn't back down. Giorgi standing over the MD player at the 38 second mark was classic. Both have seen alot no doubt so they won't be intimidated.
 
Chevy Chase, Maryland
... one more thing: So many transition points on Saturday. We keep playing defense the way we did in the second half, and getting rebounds and forcing turnovers as we did, and this team is going to be fun to watch.
 
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Chevy Chase, Maryland
Awesome post. Especially loved your bits about Adonis, which I think no one has mentioned on here, and Ayo vs. Cowen. Adonis really hasn't gotten much credit this season - good that Underwood recognized that he's useful in shutting down a powerful big. Hope he continues to play that role effectively for us - we need it.
Thanks. Without Adonis' D in the low post, we really would have little hope for wins in the BT. Giorgi can't do it yet. He needs more meat. Has got the 'tude and the moves but needs bulk. Adonis really impressed me defensively. Knows how to use his body skillfully and just sneered at Fernando. Literally painful to look at him move in that knee brace. What a warrior for us, though. Would like to see him get more love form the fans. Don't really care that he doesn't score as long as he can contain a guy like Bruno.
 
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Thanks for the extra isights. Ayo and Giorgi definitely have bite. As cool and calm as Ayo seems - he loves mixing it up with opponents and doesn't back down. Giorgi standing over the MD player at the 38 second mark was classic. Both have seen a lot no doubt so they won't be intimidated.

Went to an Illini game at MD with my oldest son in the Brian Cook days - and MD fans were about the same back then as I recall.
Lolz. Yeah, I saw that. Love his attitude. Give him 25 more pounds of muscle and another season of experience and he'll be fearsome in the low post, as well as on the perimeter. The dude was dancing around in pregame. Have never seen a player so excited and joyful. It's like every game is Christmas morning for him.

One of the guys in my buddy's group at the game yesterday was a Duke alum undergrad and MD law grad. Young guy (c/w me, that is) in his early/mid-30s. Told me about the things he's seen at MD games, particularly v. Duke and NC. Serious Terrapin inferiority complex, which has now carried over to the Big Ten. Rather like Michigan State. They're a rough bunch. I just recall the burning couches on campus when they lose big games.
 
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Thanks Altgeld for the recap. I really enjoyed reading it
My pleasure. Thanks for your kind words. So wonderful to see the Illini again after so many years, and to have had the ridiculous good fortune for this to be the game I attended. I had tickets to three different Illinois-Maryland games in College Park dating to 2010 and missed all three because of work. And couldn't get to the BTT in DC a couple years ago because of business travel (which was just as well, as they lost to Michigan's practice unis.)

I'll emphasize again, our team is clearly a team. Even when they were sputtering early, they supported each other, on the floor and from the bench. BU actually has a lot to work with, and seems to be building a strong, positive culture. If they can limit their turnovers, hit the FTs, and shoot well, they'll break some hearts down the stretch in February. When MD was up 30-19 the scoreboard showed them shooting 54% and us at 35%. By halftime it was 34-30 and they were down to 46%. I think we both ended in the mid-40s. All we have to do is play D and get into transition more. That will make a huge difference.
 
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Seems like BU used the right matchups. Adonis plays and Samba sits for this one. Kofi will be even better in the future but still believe Giorgi is having the best year of any freshman center in recent history. Doesn't make him Augustine but sure gives us hope. Giorgi, Samba, Kofi, and January sure puts some pieces in his arsenal.
 
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Seems like BU used the right matchups. Adonis plays and Samba sits for this one. Kofi will be even better in the future but still believe Giorgi is having the best year of any freshman center in recent history. Doesn't make him Augustine but sure gives us hope. Giorgi, Samba, Kofi, and January sure puts some pieces in his arsenal.
I agree. I hope Kane doesn’t get frustrated by his lack of playing time. He is very skilled and if he sticks with the program (especially with fletch) he could be a very goood player.
 
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Thanks. Without Adonis' D in the low post, we really would have little hope for wins in the BT. Giorgi can't do it yet. He needs more meat. Has got the 'tude and the moves but needs bulk. Adonis really impressed me defensively. Knows how to use his body skillfully and just sneered at Fernando. Literally painful to look at him move in that knee brace. What a warrior for us, though. Would like to see him get more love form the fans. Don't really care that he doesn't score as long as he can contain a guy like Bruno.
I saw this too. He did a great job at boxing Fernando out. To be fair though, GB shouldn't be guarding the other team's centers, and hopefully, next year, he won't have to with Kofi coming in and a soph Kane.
 
What really surprised me was that Ayo shot the FT's for the technical. If I' not mistaken AJ was on the floor and is probably our most reliable FT shooter.

Obviously the game was pretty much decided there so we didn't HAVE to hit them, but I thought it was pretty cool of BU to let our (potential) NBA, freshman guard shoot those. I hope AJ didn't take it as a slight. I saw it as more of a way to build confidence in Ayo rather than a slight to AJ.
 
What really surprised me was that Ayo shot the FT's for the technical. If I' not mistaken AJ was on the floor and is probably our most reliable FT shooter.

Obviously the game was pretty much decided there so we didn't HAVE to hit them, but I thought it was pretty cool of BU to let our (potential) NBA, freshman guard shoot those. I hope AJ didn't take it as a slight. I saw it as more of a way to build confidence in Ayo rather than a slight to AJ.
I heard (maybe post game interview) or read that Ayo was lobbying big time to take those.