Wednesday, January 18, 2006

IU-Illinois: What a completely bizarre game

1. We beat the 5th ranked team in the country, and yet I don't think we played well at all. We started and ended the game playing basketball just about as poorly as it can be played. And in the middle of the game when we outscored the Illini by 26 points, I thought we played average basketball.

2. The "4 Guard Naysayers" were exactly right in their complaints... for once. Vaden had a truly awful game. On defense he was eaten alive by Pruitt and Augustine, and he wasn't able to get that back on the offensive end at all. He missed shots, turned the ball over, and made bad decisions - which is completely uncharacteristic. Even at the very end, he missed that last free throw that could have ensured that the best Illinois could do was force overtime (with Brown and Randle out and Augustine with 4 fouls)... and he's a great FT shooter! It was like Vaden pulled all his "off games" together and decided to get rid of them all at once.

3. Those two threes that Ben Allen hit during our big first half run were great, but oh my goodness, anyone who thinks we should play Allen at the 4 instead of Vaden to improve our defense and rebounding is obviously not watching Allen except when we're on offense. Yikes. He played 9 minutes and had 3 fouls, 2 turnovers, and 0 rebounds... and it showed. We really need Allen to get things together on the defensive side of the ball, because that 3 point shot is a real weapon, if we can afford to keep him on the floor long enough to shoot it. C'mon, Ben.

4. What to say about Marco Killingsworth? He was terrible in the first half. He turned the ball over over, he missed layups, he got pushed around, he got frustrated with the refs, and he got called for an absolutely correct intentional foul when Indiana had possession. Then in the first 15 minutes of the second half he was unstoppable offensively and helped Indiana build up our biggest lead, including hitting some big free throws. Then our fifth-year senior made two jawdropping, boneheaded turnovers in crunchtime, resulting in 5 Illinois points when the game was completely in doubt. Should we be happy that his 23 points helped us win... or worried that he played like crap for half his 34 minutes on the floor?

5. Thank goodness that Wilmont is playing so well, because Ratliff is still struggling badly. Heading into the season, I really believed that Ratliff would be one of our best players... then he got injured, and it seems to have had a tremendously large impact on him. I was hoping for a big improvement, yet he was playing better last season than he is now, and he's been playing for a lot of game now since coming back from injury. C'mon, AJ, we need you.

6. Lewis Monroe's defense is extremely underrated.

7. Whatever happened to home cookin'? I'm sure there's an Illini fan out there complaining about the officiating right now, but they're out to lunch. As people probably know, I'm not big on blaming refs for losses, especially on the road, because I think that's just the way it goes and the human element to officiating is simply a part of the game. But good gravy, I thought the officiating was peculiar last night. That charging call on Vaden late in the second half was embarrassing. And Pruitt was (to his credit) manhandling IU players all night - and one thing he did all night was pretend he was an NFL lineman when an IU big man would run into the lane. Pruitt would go up and block him, stopping him in his tracks. By my eye, this resulted in two fouls... one on Ben Allen and one on Marco (the intentional foul). He did this about 30 times. And just to be clear, I think Marco's frustation intentional foul was a dumb move and a good call - Marco needs to be smarter than that. But I can certainly empathize with the frustration.

8. We held Dee Brown and James Augustine to 16 points and still almost lost the game.

9. Our starting backcourt of Monroe, Strickland, and Vaden combined for 14 points, and we still won the game.

10. I'm really happy with the win, but I'm not sure how many positives we can take away from this game beyond the W.


The Grands said...

I was glad that we won also, but I also came away from the game let down. One reason was that "House" was pre-empted and the other was that I believe that Marco is a loose cannon that Davis pretends that he controls. Maybe Marco rebounded last night cause davis threatened to bench him, I hope so. The TV showed another T foul, how many more were there? Why didn't Davis bench him? Was it because Illini were playing so rough? I didn't see that. Maybe the officiating was bad on both sides. We have so much talent and are so uneven in our play. TJ should be making a better come back - why not? Is Davis a coach or a cheerleader?

The Grands said...

I mean AJ. All those initials.....

Terry Bleizeffer said...

I don't think Marco is a loose cannon. I think he was getting fouled repeatedly and chose a stupid way to retaliate. It's B10 basketball in the paint - players are constantly trying to get an edge by being physical. Marco is not unusual in that regard, IMO.

I'm worried about AJ too. Not sure what's going on with him.

If Davis is a cheerleader, he's not a very good one, considering that his pre-game cheers seem to be falling pretty flat. =)

The Grands said...

I don't get it "pre-game cheers"? falling flat? What does he do? I talked to daddy on the phone this morning. He didn't even see the game. I told him that Marco and company were very good at rebounding last night. That made him happy. Doesn't take much.

Terry Bleizeffer said...

I was just making a snide remark about Indiana's slow starts this season - they seem to have a knack for falling behind early before settling down and playing well.

Tell Daddy that Penn State beat Purdue by 20 points. That'll make him happy. =)