Illinois 78, Nicholls State 70 OT POSTGAME

Metro East
First game. Low Expectations for your opponent. Players have read too many articles/tweets by Andy Katz and other so-called experts. Great wake-up call for the players. You will see a much different team in the desert this weekend.

My only comment - Feliz is a BULLDOG. Love watching him play!
 
Paducah, Ky
Strange game by us all around. Offensively we never got into a rhythm. Some of that is their defensive style, which is similar to our old one.

When a team maniacally denies like that, you don’t really run offense anymore. You just attack your 1 on 1 matchups and make plays. Seems like we had a couple guys ready for that and a couple not ready.

Our late game offense with the weakside overloaded horns sets were great. I missed about 10 minutes to start the second half, but I don’t recall seeing those at any other time.

I think what I’m getting at is we didn’t really appear to be running much offensively, and we haven’t meshed enough yet to understand how to play off each other when it’s in a read and react situation. That late pass from ayo to kofi that we turned over was a set we ran a lot with great success last year, particularly against msu.

Defensively, now that we’ve toned down the aggression schematically, I almost felt like it impacted our mentality. There’s an attitude piece to denying like crazy, even if you give up a layup. We didn’t appear to have that same intensity on defense, and I honestly felt like it slowed down our offense too. We have to figure out how to channel that aggression into the softer denial defense that we seem to be playing. For those of you yearning for it, this is the defense BU played after that 0-6 start at ok state, with maybe a little more zone.

I didn't watch the game , but listened to brian B...did they do to us what we did to many teams last year as far as denying D. and did we not react with what other teams did to us as far as attacking the rim as will ????

i agree we need time to recognize how to use the new pieces and with TF being cold as ice it seemed to me listening that we got into Groce bb of passing and dribbling, not attacking....could be first game jitters also, but we need to grow up fast as the next 2 road games offer us the chance to gain needed confidence to ascend upward with our progress and put the last 2 years in the rear mirror...I believe we would have lost last night if we had played like the last 2 years teams played....being an eternal optimist i hope the players realize they dodged a big bullet last night and play friday and Sunday at a higher level of urgency.....The last 5 minutes last night brought out a lot of cuss words and familiar feelings of the losing memories in me...just glad Dre and team got the win and onto the next one...

GO ILLINI !!!!
 
Not a popular take, but best possible outcome against Nicholls St. Illinois still gets a win but actually had a harsh wakeup call that should dictate better focus/effort against GCU and Arizona. Feliz (BU's named heartbeat of the team) rose up. Still a lot of underclassmen relied upon to drive outcome of games, not surprised that there are lapses at this time of year. There will be individual and team maturation. I'm much more interested how the team performs March 5th vs November 5th....on to the next.
 

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Listening to the post game presser, Underwood noted Alan Griffin's performance and immediately admitted he should have played him more. I'm not writing off Kipper yet, but I think Underwood recognizes it's (finally) time to give more of those minutes to #0.
This is my last comment on it because it’s time to move on from this game, but WTH. We hear this about one or another player after every game. Shouldn’t a coach as highly compensated as Underwood he able to recognize these things during the freakin’ game?! I mean if I can recognize it from my couch...
 
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I was at the game and I agree. In the first half I thought our defense was fine but the offense looked out of sync. The run by NS looked like lack of effort on the defensive end. I am more concerned about the offense but if Trent goes 4 of 9 and not 0 this is a different game. And he will most of the time.
Agreed, and good shooting hides a lot of sins. Even though turnovers were the most glaring issue last night, I've been most concerned about this team's ability to make shots. I think they're better than what we saw last night but I'd like to see them start showing a bit more.
 
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Actually free throw shooting stats were bad because Giorgi and Kofi were 3/9. Rest of the team 80%. On the other hand turnovers were bad for everyone except Alan, DaMonte and Trent.
 
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This is my last comment on it because it’s time to move on from this game, but WTH. We hear this about one or another player after every game. Shouldn’t a coach as highly compensated as Underwood he able to recognize these things during the freakin’ game?! I mean if I can recognize it from my couch...
Well, I personally see nothing wrong to slowly transitioning minutes to Griffin over Kipper as opposed to a wholesale exchange.

I was one of those that didn't mind the way that Groce ratcheted up the minutes for Nunn and Hill as opposed to a dramatic change. In the back of every coach's mind is the hope that a player will turn around at some point and you're trying to lay the groundwork for that.
 

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I mentioned after the exhibition game, we can not play Kofi and GB at the same time. We are taking GB out of a proven spot, the 5. It will hurt him tremendously as the season moves forward.
We cannot have TF, AD, and Feliz on the floor at same time. Completely takes 1 of the guards out of flow and I dont get this. Villanova has done it for a decade and we can't get it done going on 1.5 years. Agree more minutes 20-25 for Alan and 20 for VerDunk if his leg is ready. Feliz off the bench is a winner. Ayo has got to average at least 5 assists per game. If not move him to the 2 and hand 1 to Tf and Feliz. This team looks like a team that has 12.5 wins per year under Underwood. Go Illini.
 
Chambana
After last night, I see this team as 17-18 win team, just outside of the bubble.

individually, we have some good pieces, but we from what I saw last night, we don’t play well as a team. We don’t pass the ball well & we don’t play team defense.
 
Nicholls St. defense definitely caused some problems last night. Ayo and Feliz being able to beat the double team off the high ball screen or get by their man out high and get to the basket and score was big. GB,definitely needs the ball more in the post, don't remember if they doubled him when he did get it.
 
North Bethesda, Maryland
Who knows, Nicholls State may win their conference and go to the dance. Let’s see how game two goes.
 
Realistically Underwood was hired in March 2017. The only recruit he brought in was Mark Smith (in April) who along with most of the remaining Groce talent left him before the 2018-19 season.

2018-19 was rough, and if he had someone like Leron Black or Michael Finke to add big man depth and experience we probably would have finished quite a bit better than 12 wins.

2019-20 has some pretty high expectations and with the talent he's recruited it realistically should. As long as he brings us into the bubble team conversation this year it's still a sign of positive momentum for the program. Don't misunderstand, anything short of a tournament appearance is a failed season, but coming from where we were a failed season in year 2 is not a firing offense as long as we're still headed the right direction.

Whether we make the tournament this year or not I think 2020-21 is Underwood's real test. He needs to send Ayo to the NBA and sign his replacement to show he can both develop and recruit talent. Also, with a roster consisting of Trent (senior), Curbelo/Miller (freshmen), Griffin/Tevian/Giorgi (juniors), and Kofi/Verdonk (sophomores) he has no excuse for not making the tournament and getting at least 12 conference wins.
 
Urbana, IL
I remember season openers where we put up 100+ pts or won via blowout. Then, we proceeded to have very underwhelming seasons. I don’t think it is wise to predict what the rest of the season holds for the Illini based on the first game of the season. Not a lot of data on this particular team yet.
 
Great coaches motivate players. Not saying it's 100% on coach, but he needs to push their buttons or get them excited about performing
While your point is true, it didn't seem to me like there was a lack of excitement about performing. I will put the rotations (too much Kipper, not enough AG, and not a big enough cushion to warrant a TU sighting) on Brad. At some point though it's the players who need to step up and make free throws, get on the floor for loose balls, and hit open shots.
 
Now, I'm not making excuses for anyone because that was NOT a fun game and I am NOT confident moving forward, but I also think we have to put this in context a little. Even with all the TO's and missed FT's...

  • With 6 minutes left we were up, what, 15 or 16 points. Under "normal" circumstances that grows just a tiny bit and we end up winning by 20 or so and everyone is relatively happy (I mean not us on the board because we gnash teeth and rend garments over the little things).
  • Trent was something like 0/8 from the field in regulation? We know that's not going to happen very often. Most of those were good, open shots and they will fall. He hits at regular pace and this isn't close.
  • GB missed a lot of bunnies and close floater in the lane. Based on 30 games from last year, this game was the outlier. This won't be so bad all season long either.
All the other bad stuff is fixable. I'm not saying it will be fixed, but there is solid reason to believe it will be.

In the end...not good. But also not the end of the world. Nobody needs to be fired. Nobody needs to lose their scholarship. Lets see how the Fr/Su games go so we have a little bigger sample before we go all Chicken Little.
 
You thought this would be a quick fix when he took the job? Its his third year. I am going to let him have more than 2 years and 1 game to decide his fate on this message board.
I don't think we have the same idea of a quick fix.

That said I agree with giving him more time which I have now started three times.

I'm underwhelmed. I can't actually believe that what you're seeing is anything more than that.

Let's hope we start seeing better basketball.
 
Now, I'm not making excuses for anyone because that was NOT a fun game and I am NOT confident moving forward, but I also think we have to put this in context a little. Even with all the TO's and missed FT's...

  • With 6 minutes left we were up, what, 15 or 16 points. Under "normal" circumstances that grows just a tiny bit and we end up winning by 20 or so and everyone is relatively happy (I mean not us on the board because we gnash teeth and rend garments over the little things).
  • Trent was something like 0/8 from the field in regulation? We know that's not going to happen very often. Most of those were good, open shots and they will fall. He hits at regular pace and this isn't close.
  • GB missed a lot of bunnies and close floater in the lane. Based on 30 games from last year, this game was the outlier. This won't be so bad all season long either.
All the other bad stuff is fixable. I'm not saying it will be fixed, but there is solid reason to believe it will be.

In the end...not good. But also not the end of the world. Nobody needs to be fired. Nobody needs to lose their scholarship. Lets see how the Fr/Su games go so we have a little bigger sample before we go all Chicken Little.
At 5:58 remaining we expanded our lead from 12 to 13. We were not up 15 or 16 points and that's the problem. 5:58 remaining and Nichol's was still in striking distance. That game needed to be put away at that point. 16 points probably would have done it. 13 clearly did not.

Trent was also 0-9 not 0-8. I get your point but not every shot he took was well selected. There was also at least one Trent 3 in the early game where he was trying to be too fancy. He tried to fake his defender with a head snap to the side before putting up the three and the shot was off the mark. If he had just gone up clean he might have made it.

Giorgi also played in the past last year. This game he was rolling in from outside, hadn't had time to muscle his placement with his defender, and was forcing up a tough shot. It may have looked like a similar shot to the ones he made last year but without that extra time to get his placement and wear down his defender it clearly was tougher for him. That could be a problem this year going forward if Giorgi isn't played more at the 5.
 
Winged Warrior
At 5:58 remaining we expanded our lead from 12 to 13. We were not up 15 or 16 points and that's the problem. 5:58 remaining and Nichol's was still in striking distance. That game needed to be put away at that point. 16 points probably would have done it. 13 clearly did not.
Lol....what?? One shot? With 6 min. left? Three points? So 16....not within striking distance.....13....in striking distance? This is baffling.
 

Deleted member 652751

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Well, I personally see nothing wrong to slowly transitioning minutes to Griffin over Kipper as opposed to a wholesale exchange.

I was one of those that didn't mind the way that Groce ratcheted up the minutes for Nunn and Hill as opposed to a dramatic change. In the back of every coach's mind is the hope that a player will turn around at some point and you're trying to lay the groundwork for that.
I get what you are saying, but in a game where we are getting outscored 16-0 by an inferior opponent I want difference makers on the court. In two years and one game Damonte and Kipper have rarely been, and Allan was in the first half of last nights game. I would like to see him get four or five of their minutes especially in last nights second half.
 
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I remember season openers where we put up 100+ pts or won via blowout. Then, we proceeded to have very underwhelming seasons. I don’t think it is wise to predict what the rest of the season holds for the Illini based on the first game of the season. Not a lot of data on this particular team yet.
If it's any consolation, Syracuse lost to a D2 team at home in an exhibition game and went on to be the overall number 1 seed in the tourney and lost in the sweet 16 to Butler.

As irritating as the game was, I think we also tend to forget that basketball is such a growing sport with respect to the number of quality players regardless of program and/or division. It's just usually that best programs have the best depth of guys with pro potential (including overseas pro potential. I)t's not like in the 90s where the difference between a top 40 team and a top 250 automatically equates to a 40 point blowout. More players are given access to higher quality training and more kids are electing to focus on 1 sport at an earlier age which yields an overall deeper talent pool of players.

In baseball, D3 teams beat D1 teams all the time because the talent gap usually isn't so outrageous from an offensive perspective. The better programs just usually have a deeper rotation of quality pitching.