Thursday, January 11, 2007

Iowa 70; Illinois 74

I'm not going to do a long post about this one. I've pretty much given up hope on Illinois making the tournament, and I really couldn't care less about the NIT, but I have some observations on the parts of the game for which I stayed awake:
  • College basketball is virtually unwatchable when one or both teams are playing a zone defense. Every possession is 30 seconds of throwing it around the perimeter until someone finally jacks one up. And it's not just bad teams that react that way. What's funny is that in the second half, even with a zone, Iowa still got torched on the inside.
  • Next year, I'd like to see college basketball make it a point of emphasis to stop calling defensive fouls, and start calling offensive fouls, on players who kick their defenders while shooting three pointers. Adam Haluska basically kicked Warren Carter, who was standing still, on his way down from shooting a three pointer, and was rewarded with three free throws. Haluska is a flopper, and was repeatedly either bailed out by officials, or allowed to take four or five steps at a time, and that was in Champaign. I don't think he'll even have to dribble the ball in Iowa City.
  • Brian Randle was particularly active and effective in the second half run that built up Illinois' biggest lead, be it on defense, or while dishing (a team high six assists) and dunking on the offensive end. He has to be that good every night for the Illini to be competitive.
  • As good a win as this was, the Illini were a couple or Warren Carter misses away from a loss. Jamar Smith was non-existent, going 0-7 from the field. Trent Meacham was just as bad at 0-5. Fortunately, Rich McBride picked up the slack, going 5-11 from the field for 15 points. They got 48 points from their starting front line, which is kind of a surprise against a zone team, but they're going to need to be better from the perimeter if they want to compete.
  • Apparently trash talking is now grounds for a technical.
In roughly a five minute stretch in the second half, Illinois scored seventeen points. They showed how good they can possibly be. The question is whether they keep it up over more than five minutes at a time. That might be enough to beat Iowa at home, but it won't be enough to finish in the top half of the Big Ten, and it won't be enough to make the NCAA tournament.

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