Just when we thought it might be over, a real team, from a real conference, shows up to remind us what we are, and what we are not.
Maybe it was cosmic payback for all those football asswhippins, maybe it was God reminding us not to get too big for our britches, or maybe it was just as simple as being outclassed, outtalented and outcoached in all phases of the game.
Of all the little aspects of last night’s domination, two little things stood out: first, we were badly outhustled by the Illini — which is rare for a Kevin O’Neill coached team; second, our players continue to demonstrate a low basketball I.Q.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened: Illinois came out strong, forcing tempo, and extending it’s man-to-man defense well into the backcourt to put pressure on the ball at all times and play passing lanes. On offense, Illinois ran off tons of screening in a fast-paced offense and got hot from the outside.
We failed to adjust to both.
Rather than making Illinois pay for its over-aggressive defense, by penetrating from the perimeter, moving the ball around fast, and trying to get easy hoops inside… we instead attempted any number of unsuccessful set plays, featuring virtually no ball movement, static play and poor screening.
On defense, we failed to fight through picks and repeatedly got sucked in on penetration, only to leave open outside shots.
But the biggest concern about this group has to be the low basketball I.Q. demonstrated on both sides of the ball. We took repeated wild, reckless shots, rather than driving, dishing and moving; we were sloppy with ball possession (sound familiar?); our players repeatedly got lost in space; and we were terrible at boxing out.
Our effort was also depressingly weak… at any number of times it looked like we had given up. Our screens were weak, guys often stood around on offense, and we failed to fight through picks and go for rebounds time and time again.
And then there was all the sloppy play.
Rather than keep going on, it’s better to focus on the future. Coach KO needs to develop basic offensive skills for these players — screening, dribble penetration, ball secruity, and so on. That is the only way to turn the corner.
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