Sunday, January 13, 2008

Indiana 62, Illinois 58

Illinois wins! No, that's what happened in 2001 when Illinois and Indiana played in Bloomington: One squad was scrappy on defense, and had a good center but not a lot of other offensive weapons. The other squad was a top 10 team, but played a little over-confidently at times. The top-ten team saw the scrappy squad go 10 minutes in the second half without a field goal, and escaped with a narrow win. That's exactly what happened again today, although this time Indiana was the top 10 team, and Illinois was the team that had a 10-minute stretch without a FG.

Steve S. has a good take on the game, and especially on
Billy Packer's usual performance. Can we please retire this guy? At least Dick Vitale occasionally sees what's going on in front of his nose, and he only has one eye.

When I watched the game (Tivo is awesome), I saw the Illinois team that I thought we'd be facing at the beginning of the season. The Illini played smart, tough defense combined with low-turnover good ball movement on offense. If Illinois were at home, a few calls would've gone their way, and they probably would've won. But if had been played on a neutral court, I still don't know if it would've made a difference. You just can't go 10 minutes in the second half and expect to win. Also, I didn't the calls were that egregiously in IU's favor- there were a lot of charges that if the situation had been reversed, if the road team was coming into Illinois and getting those calls, Chief Illiniwek would've been throwing garbage on the floor. Of course, he's not allowed in NCAA arenas anymore, so that's a moot point. But the call I'm sure that Illini fans are a little angry about -the out-of-bounds call in the last minute- I thought was a just call. It could've been a jump ball, sure, but it looked to me like it was off Randle's leg out of bounds. Even so, I was pretty shocked that Ellis didn't get a foul call as thought Meachem (?) hit him with the body pretty decently on the previous drive and shot. Anyway, the Illini had their chances, and the way they've played, I wouldn't expect them to get the benefit of doubt from refs anywhere except in that other Assembly Hall.

Indiana also bears a lot of blame, and I hope coach Sampson gets in the ears of Jordan Crawford and Jamarcus Ellis for their shot selection and decision-making in this game. It was pretty awful, as off-balance pull-ups were clearly not working, and Ellis and Crawford kept trying 'em. It showed some poor discipline there, as then Ellis started trying to mix it up with the Illini players. As for Eric Gordon, he played nervous. His passes were wide (didja see that first-half post-pass to DJ? Appalling) and his usually steady hands couldn't hang on to the ball. He needs to work this week on handling the ball versus pressure. I don't want to think about having to play this game without our bench guards- thank goodness AJ Ratliff and especially Armon Bassett are back. Obviously Armon Bassett gets the game ball. DJ and EJ did okay, but it was Armon who keyed the defensive intensity and hit the very big threes, as well as sealing the game with two clutch free-throws. But I also want to point out that AJ Ratliff hit a couple of big threes, and had the key stops in the final minute, blocking Demetri McCamey's reverse lay-up and it looked like he blocked Calvin Brock's possible game-tying put-back as well. We need those guys back and playing at full speed. The upside is the Hoosiers didn't play very well and still came with a win, unlike Michigan State, who suffered an outrageous 36-43 loss at Iowa. 36 points!

The next game is at Minnesota on Thursday, and Indiana better execute a hack of lot better than they did today, or the Gophers are going to get a big win.


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