Illinois Fighting Illini Archive

2015-2016 ITH Season Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini


With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Illinois Fighting Illini.

The Hoosiers weren’t the only Big Ten team dealing with off-court issues this summer.

During the Illini’s foreign trip to Belgium, the Netherlands and France in August, Darius Paul was arrested for vandalism, public intoxication and resisting arrest in France. Head coach John Groce, after already suspending Paul for all of the 2014-2015 season for disciplinary reasons, had enough. He dismissed Paul from the team a week later.


Film Session: Illinois


While Yogi Ferrell finished Sunday’s bout in Champaign just 1-of-9 from the floor, he dished out nine assists and turned the ball over just once — flashing leadership on both ends of the court. Ferrell also snagged three boards and affected the outcome of a few others.

We’ll take a look at Ferrell setting up his teammates in the latest edition of Film Session:

With the Hoosiers in an early 14-3 hole, Ferrell gets a ball screen from Collin Hartman up top. Ferrell ends up taking the ball the other way:


With just 10 seconds to go on the shot clock, Ferrell is jammed up on the left wing with three Illini defenders. Ahmad Starks is keeping watch with a foot in the paint:



Video: Tom Crean reacts to win at Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 80-74 win over Illinois at the State Farm Center on Sunday afternoon.

Watch the full press conference below:

The Minute After: Illinois


Thoughts on an 80-74 win against the Illini:

Ranked No. 1, they couldn’t do it. Last season in overtime, they didn’t come through. 11 out of their last 12 tries, it didn’t happen.

But on this Sunday afternoon inside the State Farm Center in front of a record crowd of 17,085, the Hoosiers got it done and head back to Bloomington with the W. That’s two road wins in three tries to start the Big Ten season. It’s their third conference win coming into the game as the underdog. Size be damned, these Hoosiers show no panic or fear. They are a confident bunch of kids.

There were wild swings in this one. Indiana fell behind 14-3 as the Illini started hot from the perimeter. But the Hoosiers would bounce back. Illinois allowed dribbled penetration. IU’s guards took it into the paint for scores and kickouts to its 3-point shooters. Some of it came so easy it felt like a non-conference affair. What was once an 11-point deficit became an 11-point lead at 34-23 after a Collin Hartman score. At one point during this run, the Hoosiers stopped the Illini on seven straight possessions. But there came 11 straight points from Illinois toward the end of the half and they tied the ballgame at 34-all. Four points from the Hoosiers to close out the half had them up 38-34 at the break.


Illinois filling void left by Rayvonte Rice by committee


Indiana got to know Illinois’s Rayvonte Rice quite well last season — the 6-foot-4 senior’s first with the Fighting Illini.

In his three games against the Hoosiers, Rice averaged 20.7 points per game, with more than 70 percent of those points coming from either on 2s or at the line.

But in the Hoosiers’ lone regular season match-up against the Illini on Sunday, Indiana will not have to deal with Rice, who is out with a left hand fracture.

Instead, the Hoosiers will have to deal with a team by committee, as Illinois coach Jon Groce said on Friday. A team that has the adaptability of a “chameleon,” he said.

“They’ve had different guys step up and make plays at different times in games because everybody can make a play,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “I think they’ve responded really well to the loss of Rice, who’s one of the better players in our league without question. But it’s because of the fact that they have so many guys with versatility to get to the basket and to shoot the three.”


Video: Crean, IU players preview Illinois

Tom Crean, James Blackmon Jr., Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams with the media on Saturday afternoon at Assembly Hall to preview Sunday’s meeting with Illinois at the State Farm Center.

Watch both press conferences below:

What to Expect: Illinois


After a pair of wins at Assembly Hall, Indiana returns to the road for a Sunday matinee with Illinois at the State Farm Center. The Illini are 12-6 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten.

The game will be broadcast on BTN at 1 p.m. ET with Eric Collins and Shon Morris on the call:

Indiana’s 3-1 record through four Big Ten games has included a little bit of everything. A gritty road win in a tough environment at Nebraska. A head scratching blowout at the hands of Michigan State in East Lansing. And a pair of close wins at home over a ranked Ohio State team and a scrappy Penn State group.

The Hoosiers were predicted to start 1-3 in conference play by both and Las Vegas, so it’s hard to find any fault with this start. But as Jordan Littman pointed out earlier today, the road gets tougher quickly. Four of Indiana’s next six games are on the road and will be played without starting big man Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Indiana won’t look ahead any further than its next game, but this is a stretch where the Hoosiers simply need to hold things together, try to steal games on the road and attempt to hold serve at home. That, of course, is easier said than done, but the next chance for a second Big Ten road win comes Sunday in Champaign.


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