Michigan 73, Illinois 65 (OT) POSTGAME

Champaign Area
The Egwu hedging thing HAS to be on the coaches. I can't believe that he would continually leave the basket at crunch time against the wishes of the coaches and still be on the floor.

WTF are the coaches thinking? It is obviously a flawed strategy!!
It is the same thing Weber did with Augustine. Auggie was just better at it and our defense was better at helping out and rotating to cover when needed.

However, at some point, I think a coach has to realize the skill set just isn't there and do something different. No matter how often they work on it NE is just not going to get it right. So change it. It is killing us.
 
Champaign Area
Ask Thad Matta how easy it is to transition to zone defense. He decided to scrap MtM and perfect the zone as his primary defense ala Syracuse and OSU fans are now after his head. Its easier said than done.

Groce uses situational zone to take offenses out of rhythm from time to time just "like most other coaches in the league" and probably at about the same level of frequency and success. You can't master both and a good zone is particularly difficult.

I suspect Lon Kruger would disagree.

Plus, you don't need to MASTER both. You just need to be very good at MtM and be competent at a few zone looks. Any more is bonus.

All I know is the zone sure seems to knock our lights out "most" every game it is applied against us. Other coaches (including Michigan this last game) use it a LOT more than we do and they keep beating us and make the Dance. So there is that.
 
I could be wrong on this but my assumption in the Michigan game was Egwu was told to over hedge on the perimeter to help slow down the barrage of 3 point killers. The problem then being was no one was rotating to cover his man.

On the other side, plenty of people here were complaining Groce wasn't doing anything to stem the flow of 3 pointers. Groce put a plan of action in place but we didn't have the skill to pull it off. Egwu couldn't get back to his man fast enough and wasn't getting any help rotation on his man down low. Not sure how anyone could have slowed Dawkins down...you put Rice on Dawkins then who covers Levert et al who were nailing the 3's as well.
Actually, someone who would probably know told me that Egwu was absolutely NOT supposed to do that against Michigan. At least, that wasn't the original game plan anyway.

As a general rule, I hate this strategy. And it's something Groce has done all three years here with Egwu. It works great if you have tough, smart defenders who understand when and where to rotate. But that takes something special. If you don't have guys that can do that, like we don't appear to have this year, it puts your team in some serious binds.
 
The Transfer Portal
This will likely touch off another spate of "well then the staff should make it so with their magic coaching wands"-style responses, but this roster seems spectacularly unsuited to effectively run a zone.

To zone well, you need guys that can cover a lot of ground and space - preferably due to their above-average length and agility - and have good to great defensive instincts to cover up the soft spots of whatever zone you're running.

We roll with four guards, two of them fairly undersized, and a center who things just do not come naturally to on a basketball court.
 
This will likely touch off another spate of "well then the staff should make it so with their magic coaching wands"-style responses, but this roster seems spectacularly unsuited to effectively run a zone.

To zone well, you need guys that can cover a lot of ground and space - preferably due to their above-average length and agility - and have good to great defensive instincts to cover up the soft spots of whatever zone you're running.

We roll with four guards, two of them fairly undersized, and a center who things just do not come naturally to on a basketball court.
Agree. Cosby and Starks in particular would not be good zone defenders. Even Rice is better in man defense where he can better use his strength.
 
Egwu was still jumping out on the perimeter because they were killing us from outside.
 
The zone's been confusing me too.
Especially since they were getting it to collapse easily, with 3 point shooters on the wings.
 
I was hoping Nunn would take a huge leap this year much like Hill has. He has shown flashes of being able to score in spurts. But there is no consistency. And it forces Groce hand to play Cosby on defense.

If Nunn can be consistent in conference play along with rice and hill. Easily they get to 20 wins. If not. We may be looking at a poor 6-8 conference wins.

But all signs point to next year in my opinion. You will have added depth, and more scoring threats from your posts
 
I was hoping Nunn would take a huge leap this year much like Hill has. He has shown flashes of being able to score in spurts. But there is no consistency. And it forces Groce hand to play Cosby on defense.

If Nunn can be consistent in conference play along with rice and hill. Easily they get to 20 wins. If not. We may be looking at a poor 6-8 conference wins.

But all signs point to next year in my opinion. You will have added depth, and more scoring threats from your posts
Don't agree with the next year thing, unless we somehow add an impact PG. We are so lacking there right now, and I'm not confident on Tracy coming back strong (he was hardly a standout pre-injury).
 
Des Moines, Iowa
I couldn't disagree on every front anymore.
Defend?
Minnesota, Penn State, and Indiana tore him up last year.
Penetrate?
Sure, but can't pass or finish at the rim. He barely shot over 30%.
Hates to lose?
Nobody likes losing, but Abrams teams have had their fair share of losing.
Thank you, tired of the "if TA was playing this wouldn't be happening." Truthfully all 3 have their faults and are not the answer.

I do think Tate is making positive strides, but he played pretty good in the non conference schedule last year too. Let's see if he can continue it in the regular season this year.
 
UI Fan in QC Land
While I don't think Abrams is a high level PG, he does bring some toughness at the position. That would add a lot to this team defensively and on drives. He is a better option than Starks and Tate. It's hard not to like a guy like Tate though because he has very good court vision and adds energy when he's on the floor. If he had a decent shot, he would be starting.
 
first post

I have followed this program for 50 plus years, supported it financially bought all the trinkets etc. Have had many disappointing years but so far this year goes along with the past several. Players have no fight, no desire and a coach that cannot get them motivated. Groce has the same fault as too many of todays coaches, he's such a nice guy. What did Derosher say about nice guys? Stop trying to be a friend to these overated prima donnas and grow some gonads! You are losing anyway, so why not lose with the dignity of knowing you were the boss not the players. I can't believe any coach can say so many nice things about a team that blows a 13 point lead except one who patronizes his players too keep his job. I think it's too late to instill any team concepts to the players so why not take a page from Bobby Knights book and bench the players that won't fight. Not for a few minutes, but for a few games. I could go on forever but I won't. Like a good Cubs fan, I still root for my team, only a little quieter these days.
 
Players have no fight, no desire and a coach that cannot get them motivated.
This team may not be among the smartest we've put out on the court, but I haven't seen this lack of effort or desire. I think we have some guys who let their offense (when struggling) affect their defense at times, but I don't think motivation is a big concern.
 
Players have no fight, no desire and a coach that cannot get them motivated... why not lose with the dignity of knowing you were the boss not the players... one who patronizes his players too keep his job... why not take a page from Bobby Knights book... I still root for my team, only a little quieter these days.
LOL... really to all of these.

If anything, Groce is a coach who can motivate players, that's a strong point in his coaching career.

What fans fail to see is that this team is what almost everybody (other than Illini fans) was projecting them to be. A borderline tournament team with no inside/post presence and no B1G quality PG who can drive/penetrate.

You can certainly blame Groce for those deficiencies but lack of motivation, effort, and patronizing players to keep his job are hardly the issues with this team. And taking a page out of Bob Knight's book is hardly the solution.
 
Besides the defensive breakdowns the offense, again, sputtered; 59 pts in reg. Just not gonna win many games. This has been an issue against the "good teams" all season. This is where a lot of the disappointment(and losses) is coming from, Illinois was supposed to be a lot better shooting and scoring team and hasn't been.
This is where I fault , Groce , and staff. You have an offensive system that plays to guys who can break there man down and drive, kick , and shoot. And Ill isn't very good at doing this.We have guys who don't drive particularly well(except for rice) and haven't been shooting particularly well. Watching them try to execute this with such poor results is extremely frustrating for me.
We have guys standing around and watching a teammate try do something he is ill equipped to do. Which is beyond frustrating for me but part of the offensive design. This has led to a team that barely breaks 60 against the "big boys" and a 2-4 record.
 
Replying to a few points below:

A few other points:

* The vitriol being spouted at Ray Rice is just complete nonsense. He had a bad game scoring the ball, period. Nothing more than that. The assertion that he "didn't want to be there" is just plain wrong. He had 11 rebounds and 6 assists. Those stats do not match up to a player that was out there coasting.

Agreed. Rice has saved a few wins this season and has not cost the team any games. There are moments where he does hog the ball a bit, but that is to be expected from the team's BEST PLAYER. His aggressiveness at both ends of the floor should be a lesson to the rest of the team.

* I really don't get the current love affair with Kendrick Nunn. He just hasn't been very good this year. He has been poor defensively and has turned into a mostly spot-up shooter. In the Michigan game, he was practically invisible. The clamoring for him to be on the floor at the end of regulation and in OT is puzzling.

Kendrick Nunn is too tentative on the offensive end. He has a decent dribble drive game and can finish around the rim, but doesn't appear to have the confidence to take those shots on a regular basis. That said, he's shooting at a good percentage from 3 and 2, and he's 2nd on the team in steals. He's played 9 less minutes than Cosby on the season, but I'd like to see him get more.

* Our fanbase is really undervaluing Aaron Cosby right now. He's playing solid defense and is being aggressive on offense. The missed layups are frustrating, but he's at least getting to the rim. His shot will eventually start to fall, there's enough history with him to assume that. Until then, he's still making more of a positive impact on the games than Nunn is right now.

Undervaluing? So far, Cosby has been atrocious against power conference teams on offense (6-46 FG and 5-27 3 Pt FG), and he's only made one 2 pt FG in those games. He is a shooting guard after all. It's not like he's getting to the line either. I'm happy he's playing good defense, but I'm also having Alex Legion flashbacks.


* I love Egwu because he plays with so much heart and hustles more than anyone on the team. His lack of basketball IQ, however, is maddening. I don't know if I've ever seen a player make so may mental mistakes. That said, he is, sadly, still our best option at the 5 this year.

The lack of development of the bigs under Groce is, IMO, the biggest indictment of this staff. Egwu would be great as the first big off the bench, but the fact that he must play because of the lack of options on the roster is beyond frustrating.
 
I have followed this program for 50 plus years, supported it financially bought all the trinkets etc. Have had many disappointing years but so far this year goes along with the past several. Players have no fight, no desire and a coach that cannot get them motivated. Groce has the same fault as too many of todays coaches, he's such a nice guy. What did Derosher say about nice guys? Stop trying to be a friend to these overated prima donnas and grow some gonads! You are losing anyway, so why not lose with the dignity of knowing you were the boss not the players. I can't believe any coach can say so many nice things about a team that blows a 13 point lead except one who patronizes his players too keep his job. I think it's too late to instill any team concepts to the players so why not take a page from Bobby Knights book and bench the players that won't fight. Not for a few minutes, but for a few games. I could go on forever but I won't. Like a good Cubs fan, I still root for my team, only a little quieter these days.
I'm as frustrated as you, but the problem isn't lack of fight. It's lack of a talented PG. IMO failures to recruit at the PG spot played a major role in Weber's downfall here and I'm getting deja vu with Groce. He needs to bring in a stud PG and the sooner the better.
 
I could be wrong on this but my assumption in the Michigan game was Egwu was told to over hedge on the perimeter to help slow down the barrage of 3 point killers. The problem then being was no one was rotating to cover his man.

On the other side, plenty of people here were complaining Groce wasn't doing anything to stem the flow of 3 pointers. Groce put a plan of action in place but we didn't have the skill to pull it off. Egwu couldn't get back to his man fast enough and wasn't getting any help rotation on his man down low. Not sure how anyone could have slowed Dawkins down...you put Rice on Dawkins then who covers Levert et al who were nailing the 3's as well.
Got to agree with this somewhat. Groce's version of the Pack line and high hedge depends on the second big rotating ("Xing out) and covering the man of the big doing the hedge while they switch and the hedger sprints back to take the man the defending big who stayed low just left. In the previous years folks courtside may have heard players or assistants yelling "X......X" to communicate the switch. IMHO there is not a second big to X out and cover. This has been a scheme developed at X, tO$U and then OHIO with success. Not sure where he got it.

I can go back and in my mind's eye see Doelmann, cage, sato, then Oden, and subsequent players at OHIO and Illinois using the method. I just do not think there is anyone back there for Egwu to share the load. I also remember the bigs hedging hard and taking away the screeners advantage slowing the guard and letting the defender recover while staying with the big they are guarding to prevent the roll but do NOT ever remember any of those previous bigs overextending and being so out of the position as Nanna.
 
nnanna

The thing that concerns me about nnanna is his low key demeanor. I mean when he rebounds it is like he is afraid he will hurt the ball and he gets constantly stripped. I did see a real power rebound and flush in the mich game but at 6 11 he should do that more often. One thing that really stands out is that he has played 300 minutes more than colbert but has only attempted 5 more ft's.
 
The thing that concerns me about nnanna is his low key demeanor. I mean when he rebounds it is like he is afraid he will hurt the ball and he gets constantly stripped. I did see a real power rebound and flush in the mich game but at 6 11 he should do that more often. One thing that really stands out is that he has played 300 minutes more than colbert but has only attempted 5 more ft's.
Colbert grabbed five boards in 5 minutes the last game he played in. I'm not sure why he's not playing at all.
 
Got to agree with this somewhat. Groce's version of the Pack line and high hedge depends on the second big rotating ("Xing out) and covering the man of the big doing the hedge while they switch and the hedger sprints back to take the man the defending big who stayed low just left. In the previous years folks courtside may have heard players or assistants yelling "X......X" to communicate the switch. IMHO there is not a second big to X out and cover. This has been a scheme developed at X, tO$U and then OHIO with success. Not sure where he got it.

I can go back and in my mind's eye see Doelmann, cage, sato, then Oden, and subsequent players at OHIO and Illinois using the method. I just do not think there is anyone back there for Egwu to share the load. I also remember the bigs hedging hard and taking away the screeners advantage slowing the guard and letting the defender recover while staying with the big they are guarding to prevent the roll but do NOT ever remember any of those previous bigs overextending and being so out of the position as Nanna.
Appreciate the incite freebird. This board, especially the post game threads, could use more of this kind of stuff.