Illinois 79, Michigan State 74 POSTGAME

Ayo's 2 3-point shots at the end of the game have to be the biggest since JCL hit that walk off game winner three against I don't care who. It was the shot! I can remember it like it was yesterday. Remembering the team we beat? Who cares!
 
Watching MSU looks very similar to other programs before a giant fall off. I think their run is coming to a long painful end.
Tommy boy seemed perplexed and lost in the post game presser....wonder if he's getting enough sleep ? Might need to share a custard with his BFF Bubbles and get some advice on how losses in the B1G can affect your immune system and balance...
 
I know a lot of you have already rewatched the game, but if you haven't, I highly recommend firing up BTN2GO so you can easily rewind. So many great plays, some truly beautiful basketball from everyone that got time on the floor.

Also, getting everything out of Andres Feliz that we hoped/needed is getting undersold, I think.
 
Remember when we were by far the most dominant BTT team over like it's first 10 years? I remember.

*Sigh*
Yeah ... we still have the third best winning percentage all-time in the tournament behind Ohio State and Michigan State and the second most total wins behind Michigan State, and it used to be so much better. Since our last win (2005), OSU has won four times, and MSU has won three times. Pretty incredible when you think about it. In Chicago alone, we are still 16-7 (.696), and that is after going 1-2 in our last two trips, so hopefully we make something happen this year!

On a side note, considering recent woes in just about everything, we are STILL 38-16 all-time in the United Center ... peaked at 32-6 before a 18-game winning streak at the UC was snapped by losing to UW in the 2007 BTT semifinals. Let's get some of that magic back this year!
 
One thing I have seen us start to do well is spacing with GB on the block. Several times vs MSU the flow started to bring several guys to one side of the court, and the ball and GB on the other. We saw a matchup we liked. Got GB in space and cleared out other defenders from being able to double him when we got him the ball. Ayo and TF are also starting to understand how to work the angles and get GB the ball in a good spot. I hope we work this more as we finish out this season. And if we can keep with up with Kofi on the block next year he can be a monster for us. This offense can really get dangerous with shooters and the ability to get space like we have been starting to do.
 
The Illini are growing up right before our eyes as far as composure and developing a killer attitude on D and a lighting strike attitude on O.....Feliz is a pitbull challenging the tall timbers down low..it doesn't always work but it shows the brash attitude of the team...we are going to be a handful for our opponents the rest of the season and with increased conditioning and new recruits coming in we are poised for a return to prominence in college BB.....

Go get em ILLINI
 
The Villages, FL
IMO
Giorgi best freshman center in recent history and best overall since Leonard.
Ayo and Trent best defensive guards in BIG
Our tendency to look at starting fives doesn't apply in BU's system, requires at least eight.
Rebounding our largest weakness and Kofi/Antwan should remedy.
System requires a base of experience as it is so different from what players had in HS or AAU.
We are still in for some disappointments with this young team.
I watched every game played by Leonard his freshman year, and there is simply no comparison---Giorgi has outplayed him and there really is no way to argue otherwise.
 
Before we get too crazy here, let's remember that Leonard was a first-round NBA pick after his sophomore year.
Leonard was also drafted where he was because teams were forecasting what they could do with a 7ft kid who was a freak athletically. It's not like his last season at Illinois was one for the ages or all that memorable really. The most memorable things he did was shove Zeller when they were running down the court and interrupt Webber by yelling "God Dang" in a post-game speech.
 
Mad Scientist
Arizona, USA
Leonard was also drafted where he was because teams were forecasting what they could do with a 7ft kid who was a freak athletically. It's not like his last season at Illinois was one for the ages or all that memorable really. The most memorable things he did was shove Zeller when they were running down the court and interrupt Webber by yelling "God Dang" in a post-game speech.
I agree with most of this, but who is Webber?
 
Ayo's 2 3-point shots at the end of the game have to be the biggest since JCL hit that walk off game winner three against I don't care who. It was the shot! I can remember it like it was yesterday. Remembering the team we beat? Who cares!
Yeah. The game was horrible display for the Illini though.

 
I really liked both the players and BU's pressers. Couldn't resist Giorgi just sitting in there grinning; really thought BU comments were right on. Here's a collection of some other thoughts, following a night that I really needed as a fan and am so happy for the players and coach to have had:

THIS GAME:
  • Was truly a team effort. So many important plays by different people. Not taking anything from Ayo, but I didn't see him "taking over the game," even though he made big shots at the end. I felt the team was a team all the way through. The coach and players mentioned a number of key contributions (Ayo 3s, AJ block, Trent and others FTs) but both Feliz and ADLR get credit for really solid contributions tonight - best so far, from ADLR.
  • First half defense was so consistently good and aggressive that it flustered MSU into making the "junior high plays" that Izzo commented on - you can bet that MSU players haven't seen defense like that for an entire half at any point this year; some of our turnovers were really take-aways and some of them were stress-induced brain farts by MSU that our players get more credit for than Izzo wanted to give.
  • A big part of the reason the first half D was so good for 98% of that half was that our offensive energy, diversity and execution were so good for about 90% of the same period - we had a real positive feedback loop going, with offense and defense really feeding off of each other. I thought the decline in our offensive energy (and the increased whistles) in the second half took some of the ferocity out of our defense and defensive rebounding.
  • I was hoping we would see a bit more TJ in the second half, because I thought he had the potential to spark something on offensive that might help recapture the first half energy. I'm okay with AJ and DMW on the floor at the same time when we are both a) working Giorgi in the post and b) at least one of TF or Ayo are clearly feeling it, but when c) we start looking flat on offense, then I think one of Feliz or TJ has to be in the game to take some initiative going to the rim.
AYO
  • I watched Ayo play for the national team last year (on TV) and was thoroughly impressed by his discipline and "headiness." He was not a star on that team; he was a really solid 6th man who played within himself, understood his role (he played D, distributed and didn't shoot much in half court, unless it was obvious that offensive flow required him to shoot) and brought a calm sense of purpose to the floor.
  • Consistent with the above, I have to agree with Izzo in that Ayo (based on his shooting %) isn't yet the guy you would most fear shooting a couple of threes against you at the end of the game. He does, though, seem to be the one guy we have who isn't going to miss due to nerves when he knows the situation demands a shot. [Maybe Trent, too, but I don't know what was going on with Trent's confidence earlier in B1G season; that said, I really liked Trent wanting to take the FTs at game end tonight.]
  • AYO/Trent/Feliz have not yet shown that they are the best backcourt in the B1G, but by this time next year they might be.
COACH
  • I really like his continuing comments about IL being a great historic program and having great fans. I believe BU was a good hire and love the fact that he seems to really want to become our next Lou Henson. In a bit of a reality check, however, the current players have yet to see what IL fans really can bring to the Hall. I was a cheerleader in the late 80's, travelled with the basketball team, etc., and I made it to a couple of games in in 04-05. The current players haven't seen even remotely what IL fans can do to rock the house.
  • I've taken a lot of comfort over the course of the season from comments made by the players about BU. It has seemed to me that the players feel BU truly cares for them and that there's a real relationship context between him/them that people complaining about BU's "angry face" aren't allowing for … Passion is something BU shares with his players - more so than Lou Henson appeared to and more like Izzo (like him or not, Izzo gets buy-in from his players, not just because he knows the game, but also because he has passion and cares for his guys).
I believe AYO will stay another year and, barring injuries to him/TF/Giorgi, we will be in the big dance next year.
I wouldn't count on it, but if he is back, I would bet that we're not just in the dance, but a very good seed. The way the team's playing now is night and day better. To go from nearly 110 in Kenpom to a respectable high 60s/low 70s this late in the season means you're playing really well --easily at the level of tourney teams. I bet if you polled BIG TEN coaches today and ask what team they'd least like to meet in the early rounds of the BIG tournament, our name might come up the most.
 
Likes: 80sGoodCheer
I know most of the posters on here don't like Dan Dakich, but Dan had a really good interview with Coach Underwood after the upset of Michigan State that was really good. I liked what Coach Underwood had to say in that interview about his interactions with Ayo and Giorgi the day before the game with Michigan State. Dan even talked with Coach Underwood about Dan saying " This won't end well for Illinois", right before Ayo made his second 3 pointer late in the game.

Here's a link to that radio interview: https://omny.fm/shows/the-dan-dakic...n-state-hc-brad-underwood-j/embed?style=cover
 
The most memorable things he did was shove Zeller when they were running down the court and interrupt Webber by yelling "God Dang" in a post-game speech.
Leonard was a monster defensively his sophomore year, averaged over 8 rebounds/gm, and shot about 60%!! He looked ready for the jump to the NBA and we were lucky to have him.

Agree with your comments about the offense running well. It's interesting to see Trent talk about how he's trusting the guys now, whereas before he thought he needed to go out and get 30 a game for us to win. With Ayo and Giorgi in particular, he's got guys he trusts to make good decisions and execute the offense. The whole thing is starting to come together, and a big chunk of that is on the defensive end. We're actually getting stops, and lowering the looks the other side gets.

As a fan, I used to find myself getting frustrated by the other team's open looks, and lately I find myself complimenting the other team when they manage to get one. We're not making it easy on the defensive end, and when you get stops, you can win tough games.

Honestly, I didn't think they could do it. Tip of the hat to everyone in the program who kept at it. Really fun to see them reap the rewards of that work.
 
Likes: Rad24
Really enjoyed the offensive execution. They are really working the ball into the low post after Georgi rolls from the pinch post. He gets nice position and it plays to his srengths. The days of perimeter passing and settling for a bad jumper seem to be phasing out.