Mark Tupper's blog

Illini fizzle in second half

2013-02-24T15:38:00Z 2013-02-26T07:32:38Z Illini fizzle in second halfMark Tupper
February 24, 2013 3:38 pm  • 

Sunday was not quite the same story as the game we saw on Jan. 31 game at Michigan State.

But playing for the second time in this great state, there were similarities.

On Sunday, Illinois played hard, chased down rebounds and built a 31-28 halftime lead on 7th-ranked Michigan.

On Jan. 31, Illinois played hard, was excellent offensively, and built a 10-point halftime lead on Michigan State (ranked No. 9 in the coaches’ poll at the time).

On Sunday, Illinois was guilty of what D.J. Richardson called “bonehead” mental mistakes, especially some ugly, costly turnovers that helped fuel a Michigan run that took charge of the game. The Wolverines won 71-58 and in the process showed why their point guard, Trey Burke, is a legitimate national Player of the Year candidate.

Back on Jan. 31, Illinois got blitzed 14-0 to open the second half and couldn’t overcome that lapse.

Coach John Groce was not happy after this one, mainly because he warned his team to expect at Michigan surge and he felt – for the first time in a long time – that his team was out-smarted and out-toughed. He readily agreed that Illinois made some dumb plays.

“Unacceptable,” Groce called it. “I thought we were soft as a group in the second half.”

Maybe it means that when playing Top 10 teams on the road, Illinois is good enough to chase the upset through one half but not good enough to stay on point through the second half.

This one got a little ugly in the second half when Tyler Griffey was the only Illini player to score a basket in a period of nine minutes. And no one else looked confident enough to go get a basket.

For as well as he has played this season – and Richardson has been Illinois’ MVP – I thought the second half was some of his worst basketball of the year. It’s about the only time I can recall that he didn’t look confident.

Maybe Michigan’s defense got into his head. They were great at hedging out aggressively and trapping the Illini guards.

Maybe there was something else going on. I just thought Richardson looked a step slower in the second half. In truth, everyone did, which could explain how the rebounding switched dramatically in Michigan’s favor.

“We had eight offensive rebounds in the first half and in the second half we had zero,” Groce said, incredulously. “There’s 20 minutes in the half. You’d think we’d be able to fall into one.”

I have no good explanation for Brandon Paul, who did not attempt a field goal in the second half.

“Teams are trying to take him away,” Groce said. “I’m not so concerned about his scoring as I am about our team’s scoring. Other guys have to step up.

“We had a dunk attempt and a layup attempt and missed them both. You have to execute at a high level against a team like Michigan.”

Michigan is a very nice team. Burke is a flat-out stud (26 points Sunday) and they have nice pieces around him. So I’m not surprised the Wolverines won here.

I am disappointed, however, in Illinois’ play in the second half. I know they’re disappointed, too.

The good news is that Illinois has the week off and will return to action Saturday against Nebraska. That’s going to be the final home game of the season and the final home game in the careers of seniors Richardson, Paul, Griffey and Sam McLaurin.

Final note: I watched Joe Bertrand walk out of the arena. He was moving slow but looked OK after landing on his hip in a scary tumble while going in for a dunk. He left the game but did return.

I’m guessing he’ll be fine by Saturday.

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(26) Comments

  1. crkcrk2
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    crkcrk2 - February 26, 2013 1:25 pm

    worth a look. crk

  2. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - February 26, 2013 1:24 pm
    I'll agree with Jones that Hill & Morgan will probably get the most PT next year as freshmen. I don't see how MM will not be the starting center & Hill could get a starting spot at the 3. Hill, who is up to 6' 7", scores a lot but isn't a selfish player according to DecIllini who saw him play against Decatur Mac around X-mas. If Tate doesn't beat out Abrams for the point, he'll get a bunch of PT as his backup. Nunn has a lot of fire in him, but it's hard to say how Groce will use him. Rice is a tough, scrappy player who led Drake in scoring his soph. year. Not sure what Colbert will do.
    I look forward to seeing how Groce will use the new guys next year. He'll be able to start the freshmen with his system & the ones coming back ??? will already know it. I think he'll have a lot of flexibility with a bunch of versatile players.
  3. Basketball Jones
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    Basketball Jones - February 26, 2013 1:13 pm
    From what I understand about Rice is, he likes to drive to the basket, but doesn't shoot from the outside that well. At 6-4, he might have a hard time being effective in the Big ten. I hope he has been shooting allot this off season, and dribbling allot. I don't think his ballhandling has been that good either. That's why I have a hard time getting to excited about him next year. He might be like Paul this year, and have better games against non-conference teams, because the refs call fouls quicker. Paul don't get the same calls in the big ten as he did in the non-conference, but he should know this by now and adjust. All I can say is, I remember past teams and players, but I don't think I will remember these guys. Unless I'm having a bad dream, and in that case, Will somebody please wake me!
  4. Mikeydamouth
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    Mikeydamouth - February 26, 2013 11:51 am
    Well, sorry it got all jumbled up like that. You guys can google his stats and take a look for yourself.
  5. Mikeydamouth
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    Mikeydamouth - February 26, 2013 11:50 am
    Here are the stats on Rice. 3 pt shooting doesn't look that great.

    2012-13 Did not play or did not accumulate any stats.
    2011-12 DRKE 33.4 5.8-13.2 .436 0.8-3.4 .241 4.5-6.3 .708 5.8 1.6 0.8 1.9 3.1 2.5 16.8
    2010-11 DRKE 30.1 4.6-11.5 .402 1.3-4.3 .295 3.3-4.8 .696 4.8 1.6 0.8 1.4 2.7 2.0 13.8
    2012-13 Did not play or did not accumulate any stats.
    2011-12 DRKE 1101 190-436 .436 27-112 .241 148-209 .708 190 52 25 63 103 83 555
    2010-11 DRKE 934 143-356 .402 39-132 .295 103-148 .696 149 51 26 42 84 61 428
  6. Red in a blue state
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    Red in a blue state - February 26, 2013 10:37 am
    An X-factor player next year is Rice, but where does he fit .He's around 6'4". Which is one of the reasons Weber didn't recruit him harder.( Which on second thought doesn't mean anything). I take it he is not a particularly good perimeter shooter or ball handler but is a driver slasher junk yard dog power player take it to the hoop type. Actually that might be just what we need?
    I 'm with you BBJ about Hill being the key. I heard Tate say on the radio on the way to Champaign yesterday that Malcom has been knocking down thirty a game against some tough competion with him being a key factor in very close games. I wish they'd give him another star (5), I guess just to make me feel better.
  7. Basketball Jones
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    Basketball Jones - February 26, 2013 9:58 am
    crkcrk2, Good question. I think Hill and Morgan will. I would think Nunn and Tate will split around 20 minutes between them. Tate should get some minutes at the point, because there is a need there. Nunn who is a good looking player, might have a harder time getting minutes. The guy no one is talking about, and I know nothing about, is Colbert the power forward. That is a position that to me should be wide open next year. I would like to see Morgan win the center position, an then move Egwu to the 4. I think the way Egwu runs the floor he can play the 4. Early next year could be a struggle, but I think once some of these freshmen get some playing time were gonna forget about the last 5 years. The key to me is Hill. Just how good will he be, and how will Groce bring him and the others along? Groce is a key to me, because I don't know yet how he works with freshmen, and how quickly he can bring them along.
  8. crkcrk2
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    crkcrk2 - February 26, 2013 8:08 am
    BJones, "you sound frustrated." :) Agreed on the freshmen. Seems like a number of Big 10 teams are playing freshmen. Abrams got 20 minutes a game his freshmen year. I have only see video clips of next years freshmen. Which three freshmen most likely get 20 minutes a game? crk
  9. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - February 26, 2013 7:34 am
    I forgot about "hands of stone". That's funny too, Sug, and accurate.
    I read Tate's article on HQ & one person made an interesting comment. We all think BP's theatrics on his drives look ridiculous, but if he is indeed getting fouled, this guy said the refs should call it, even if they don't like the acting & flailing. Human nature being what it is, I can understand why they don't call them. If he isn't actually trying to make a basket & only gets hacked a little bit, they aren't inclined to call it because they don't want to feel manipulated. I would think the Illini staff would have said something about all of the flailing & told him to just try to make a basket & if you get fouled, you'll get the call. It pretty much boils down to "stop the acting & play ball". Like sug said, the Oscars are over.
  10. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - February 25, 2013 5:45 pm
    I wasn't that disappointed in the loss, because Mich. is a very good team. I'm just tired of seeing the same careless mistakes from our 4 year players & JB is included in that group. These guys just don't have that fire in their belly to bring it every game for 40 minutes. I think we have some guys coming next year who have that. Nunn & Tate do for sure & I think Rice does too.
    That's funny about BP & the true.
  11. sugmeister
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    sugmeister - February 25, 2013 4:46 pm
    looking ahead to the Big Ten tourney for a minute. big ten tiebreaker rules are a real b00ger!

    it looks like there might be a 3 way tie for 2nd place between MSU, MI, and WI. I think MSU wins a 3-way tiebreaker but not positive.

    it also looks like we might end up at 8-10 tied with MN if we don't win at IA. if we beat IA and NE then we finish alone in 6th place. but if we lose I still think we end up with the 7 seed because I think we have the tiebreaker over MN (due to beating IU).

    assuming we finish 7th we would slot vs NE or NW and face MSU in the 2nd round. If we finish 6th we would slot against NE or NW and face either WI or UM in the 2nd. not sure which of those scenarios is preferrable in 2nd round but I just hope we win at IA to have some momentum going into the tourney and are playing for seeding rather than playing just to get in.
  12. Evergreen
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    Evergreen - February 25, 2013 4:35 pm
    Griffey anticipates the pick so much that when it does not happen, he still lays back off the man he was guarding.

    Paul in the game hurts more than Paul out of the game. He is a negative, even with some of what he throws in.

    When you use the dribble ball pick, you tend to have your team dribble too much. We do not pass the ball enough. This is correctbable.

    We will limp into the NCAA and depending on how much Abrams passes and Paul sits along with Griffey with determine how far we go.
  13. Basketball Jones
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    Basketball Jones - February 25, 2013 4:33 pm
    crkcrk2, You might as well ask, who's more improved, me or Rosco, lol. Does it matter? Niether one has improved enough to give you much hope moving forward. Right now,those 2 along with Rice and Bertrand don't give you much to look forward to. That's why I say bring on the freshmen. Make a clean sweep. New coach new players= NEW HOPE.
  14. sugmeister
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    sugmeister - February 25, 2013 4:22 pm
    idk who is most improved between those 2. griffey might just be most improved on team overall? seems like the team goes as he goes. but between those 2 I guess I would say He With the Hands of Stone simply because he wasn't very good at all last yr and Abrams was the MVP.

    agree on bertrand, pistol..... earlier in the year people were commenting on how he had worked so much on his outside shot and had more confidence etc etc. but now his shot looks a little flat again (like last yr) and he just doesn't shoot it much. I agree - I have a lot of confidence in that little floater he takes from 14 ft and in but I would like to see some more assists next yr and more confidence in long range shots too. and I hope he doesn't get BP Disease... he has shown signs lately of contracting that deadly virus. symptoms include lackadaisical passes, lackluster performances, and the ability to disappear at will.

  15. crkcrk2
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    crkcrk2 - February 25, 2013 2:27 pm
    "Hands of Stone" LOL. Igloo needs to shoot 25 million turn-around jump shots this summer.A potentially strong weapon we are going to need, particularly next year.

    Who is the most improved player this year, Abrams or Egwu???? crk
  16. Rosco
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    Rosco - February 25, 2013 1:11 pm
    Just got my "warning" for 8 pages viewed with 2 left.

    All posts well stated and to the point. When you see the trap coming, don't back up, split the darn defenders and find an open man.

    JB was killing it from outside early in the year. Now a one demension scorer stopped easily by a zone or double.

    BP is a mystery. I wish the young man well. Agree with the aforementioned comments.

    Thought Egwu would be a little more productive. Great with the couple of tips, but he needs reps to get the game to slow down. he's already decided which cutter he's going to hand off to on the high post feed when they circle in front of him. He always waits for the third man even if the first or second are more open. Now, this may be by design, but I KNOW what's coming, so surely the defense does as well.

    TG...what the heck happened. Yes it was nice to see him make a couple, but c'mon man, take the 6 footer when you drive in the lane.

    Henry show signs of life, but need 8-10 points and rebounds in games like this

    peace brothers
  17. sugmeister
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    sugmeister - February 25, 2013 11:27 am
    one other thing..... seems pretty meaningless for this game since we lost anyway. but it WAS good to see Griffey hit 2 3-pt shots. and went 3-6 overall. I remarked to my son early that he appeared to have lost all confidence again since he has been cold the last 2 games. and early he drove a couple times but passed up both shots in favor of dumping the ball down to Egwu (whose name I am certain translates to "hands of stone" in his native tongue). Egwu fumbled both balls out of bounds.

    but we will need him to be confident moving forward and this has to help.
  18. sugmeister
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    sugmeister - February 25, 2013 10:19 am
    I guess I'm probably not quite as negative as most after this loss. I never expected us to win the game to begin with. Mich is a pretty good team and they are especially pretty good at home. I could see them winning the NCAA tourney with a break here and there.

    having said that, our effort the 2nd half was just not there at all. you could tell that in the first half we were getting to all the 50/50 balls. we were making the hustle plays. we weren't shooting particularly well but we were out rebounding them 18-12 and turnovers were even at 6 apiece. 2nd half that all changed and we didn't get to ANY of the loose balls and our shooting went south. combine that with poor rebounding and more turnovers and the results are about what you would expect.

    I thought it was really over when we had battled back to be down 51-47 and had the ball with 7 minutes to play. it was a terrible possession and Abrams missed a bad shot as the clock was expiring. but somehow the ball got tipped out to DJ and we had another chance..... except that DJ just basically stood there and watched burke grab the ball going the other way for a layup. we had another turnover and they ended up scoring 9 straight pts. now we're down 13 and we resort to heaving up 3's. I agree that DJ didn't play with any fire the 2nd half either

    BP has got to stop with all the acting since the oscars are over. he needs to realize there are no nominations to be won and no more awards to be handed out. whoever said his angles are horrible are dead on - you just can't score from the angles he is throwing up shots from. again - I think he is much better driving when he is actually trying to score (rather than just hoping to draw a foul). the academy has seen that rerun way too many times to reward him for it.
  19. Red in a blue state
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    Red in a blue state - February 25, 2013 10:15 am
    Man, once Michigan intensified that guard trap defense we were done. Our guards as usual wilted under the pressure. You can't count on Paul being any help. That lazy pass he threw to whoever hoping they'd put more effort into trying to retrieve it than he did passing it was sad. A 4 year player like Brandon should not look like a bewildered freshman.
    I thought Penn St. defensed our guards quite well the other night, so it was a piece of cake for a talented bunch like MIchigan. Trey Burk is too good, I hope he goes pro. I think Michigan is a 1 man team with a good very young supporting cast.
    After seeing the youngsters Michigan has and keeps bringing in I realize quite simply we need better players. This is a tough league and it's the underclassmen that are dominating the league for the most part. You can't wait 3 or 4 years for your players to improve, you have to do it with your incoming class to compete with the upper echelon of this league it seems to me.
  20. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - February 25, 2013 8:15 am
    I forgot about a thought I had about J Bertrand. Before next season, he needs to work on doing something to help the team besides dribbling one-on-one & trying to drive the lane. He can be really good at that, but if that's all he does, opposing teams will key on that. He doesn't shoot an outside shot much any more & doesn't dish the ball much when driving.
  21. Pistol Pete
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    Pistol Pete - February 25, 2013 8:02 am
    I totally agree with your post, Jones. I'm also tired of the inconsistent play of the seniors.
    This loss had nothing to do with coaching. Let's muddle our way through the rest of this season & then bring on the new guys. Now I'm back to thinking Jaylon Tate could be the starting PG next year. I get a little dizzy at times trying to figure out this team.
  22. crkcrk2
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    crkcrk2 - February 25, 2013 3:12 am
    Bjones agreed, the post-games rationalizations get old. I said to myself the first half, this team really is really begining to look. like a basketball team, and than the dispearing act. crk
  23. Basketball Jones
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    Basketball Jones - February 24, 2013 10:18 pm
    crkcrk, They only adjustment that would of helped Groce is bring his new recruits along to play. If you can, rewind the second half, and watch your 4 year seniors, Paul and Richardson, then tell me what adjustment a coach can make when these seniors are the best players you have? I'm so tired of watching these two mail in there efforts for half the games during a season, then talking to the press after the games, and saying, we need to go back and work on are game. HELLO??? You guys do know your seniors now. It's time to stop talking, and play the games like there your last.
  24. crkcrk2
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    crkcrk2 - February 24, 2013 6:41 pm
    We moved the ball well, passed effectively, and executed the first half and looked like a basketball team. Michigan made adjustments in the secondhalf. Is it all the players or did JG get outcoached in the second half? crk
  25. Mikeydamouth
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    Mikeydamouth - February 24, 2013 5:43 pm
    7 assists and 13 turnovers. Not good. Paul had 1/3 of the T/O's. More than once he tried to score and ignored guys wide open in the 1st half. Thought we had a chance to win but didn't expect it. Should beat Nebraska, 50-50 at Iowa, not so much at OSU.
  26. ronh
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    ronh - February 24, 2013 4:20 pm
    How nice it would be to have a point guard and a dependable scorer. Someone that brings it every game and you never feel like there are going to be long stretches of being unable to score. Also you would think after 2 games against these guys you would learn a little about how to defend the screen and roll. Dunk after easy shot afer easy shot. I don't think I could say that anyone played a good game for the Illini. Poor Paul after 4 years he still hasn't figured out how to play the game. Maybe it just that he is playing out of position. He is no point but then we don't have one. For the first time in a long time they looked like they kinda got it into the head that "we can't win". DJ also had some very ugly play.
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