The Morning After: Illinois

  • 01/14/2008 8:00 am in

bassettillini.jpgAs R’s headline yesterday said — phew. I was hoping for a rout, though I won’t say I expected it; Illinois under Bruce Weber is, if good at anything, good at keeping games close with stifling defense. They did that yesterday and kept the Hoosiers — and Eric Gordon — in for much of the game. Who else was nervous? My palms were as schweaty as they get.

Anyway, the round up of observations about the Hoosiers, the Illini, and everyone’s favorite rival coach, is below:

— Billy Packer was all over this during the game, and loathe as I am to agree with Billy Packer about anything, he was right: Armon Bassett was a huge difference maker in this game. His influence was positive on both ends of the floor. Defensively, Bassett applied great pressure to Illinois’ guards, forcing them to start their offense 30 feet from the hoop and making high rotations easier on the defense as a whole. That kept Illinois from getting as many open looks, and in general created a sense of frustration and difficulty that they didn’t seem to be feeling in the first half.

Offensively, Bassett was not only on-point from the arc, but he directed the Hoosiers in that strangely efficient way he developed last season. He’s not the most athletic guard, and his size is a disadvantage, but Bassett appears to have genuinely improved his court vision. The Hoosiers were a different team with him on the floor Sunday. It’s good to have him back.

This also raises a point about Jordan Crawford. Right now, Crawford is very similar to last year’s Bassett: He’s an offensively talented player who can’t play a lick of defense, and whose offensive talent compensates for his bad decisions with the basketball. (He’s more athletic than Bassett, but that’s not what I’m getting at here.) I love Crawford’s potential, but in slow, hard-fought games each possession marginally becomes more valuable, and Jordan’s bad decisions become marginally more damaging. Thanks to Armon’s return, Crawford’s negatives were even more glaring Sunday. Again: Love his talent; uneasy about his mistakes.

— I know we get into hyperbole about Bruce Weber around here, so let me clear my palette: I think Weber is a great defensive coach who has had some problems recruiting, and that with a little offensive talent (or a lot, i.e. 2003), his teams can be really effective. After all, if your default mode on defense is anywhere from “stifling” to “nearly impenetrable,” a little offense will go a long way.

Until Weber recruits that offensive talent, though, he’d do well to be far less petulant on the sideline. It’s bad enough that he doesn’t shake hands with opposing players after the game — does he do this with any other team? — but his constant demonstration of this face …

weber123.jpg

… makes it impossible to defend him. Really, is there a coach in the country whose histrionics undermine his coaching ability and apparent “nice guy” personality more than Bruce Weber? I can understand the man’s frustration — in timeouts, he looked like he was literally pleading with his team to just hold on — but I can’t imagine acting like a Grade A d-bag does one any good on the recruiting circuit. Nor can it help persuade referees. Someone needs to show Bruce a tape of himself and tell him to just … relax. Take a deep breath. Have a spa day. And stop acting like a moron.

Oh, and one more thing about the hand-shaking, without making too big a deal of this. Assuming Weber does do his little quick-shake-and-walk-away routine for every team, does that make it any better? Just shake people’s hands. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a class thing that most people would expect out of a Division 1 head coach. His assistants do it. His players do it. He should do it too.

— Like I said above, the Illini can play some defense. Weber’s decision to use Calvin Brock on Eric Gordon was a good one; Brock is athletic and solid defensively, and he gave Gordon fits. So did Brian Randle during later possessions, when Illinois tried to leverage Randle’s length on Gordon. Still, Gordon found ways around both defenders. He seemed to wear Brock down with his strength — Brock relaxing on a made Gordon three early in the second half comes to mind. And his quickness in the open court was sometimes too much for Randle too. But in the half court, the Illini held Gordon down, no small feat for any team.

— Speaking of defense (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) there is one obvious area the Hoosiers need to improve: defense. There are still too many inconsistencies in the man-to-man, too many poorly played screens and too many open looks for good shooters. (It helps that Illinois hit everything in sight the first few minutes, of course.) And the zone — which seemed like a good idea going in, given the Illini’s troubles on offense — didn’t last long before it resulted in a dunk and immediate discontinuation.

But the defense wasn’t awful; the story was the offense. Considering that’s basically where Illinois puts all their chips, and considering how poorly IU shot (their effective field goal percentage Sunday, 44.8 percent, was 11 points lower than their season average) this is still a good win, one I’ll gladly take as a precursor to even bigger things in the Big Ten and a rematch with the Illini on Feb. 7.

— Oh, and before I forget, last night commenter Kelin wrote: “D.J. is ‘MAN'”. I think that pretty much sums that up.

As always, your well-considered comments, complaints, and ennui are welcomed below.

Filed to:

  • Crawford should have been sitting beside KS getting with a notebook and pen. Armon took the kid to school on how to play some D, and score within the boundaries of the offense, not just throwing up a shot to do so. We NEED Armon, p.e.r.i.o.d. Without him this game is a loss. Crawford is a great talent, and as you pointed out, does look a little like Armon did last year. Armon, you like cortisone, big boi?!

    lata

  • Crawford should have been sitting beside KS getting with a notebook and pen. Armon took the kid to school on how to play some D, and score within the boundaries of the offense, not just throwing up a shot to do so. We NEED Armon, p.e.r.i.o.d. Without him this game is a loss. Crawford is a great talent, and as you pointed out, does look a little like Armon did last year. Armon, you like cortisone, big boi?!

    lata

  • Tsell

    11 points, 5 shots, 18 minutes: Armon Bassett
    Another dub-dub from DJ
    Gordon gets to the line, IU: Win!

  • Tsell

    11 points, 5 shots, 18 minutes: Armon Bassett
    Another dub-dub from DJ
    Gordon gets to the line, IU: Win!

  • Steve

    I believe the hoosiers played with way to much emotion. Which leads to trying to hard if you can believe that. This was anything than just another game for the hoosiers. They need to relax and not worry about beating a team by thirty and just play their game. Without Armon we are dead in the water against good defensive teams, because of the selfishness of Crawford.

  • Steve

    I believe the hoosiers played with way to much emotion. Which leads to trying to hard if you can believe that. This was anything than just another game for the hoosiers. They need to relax and not worry about beating a team by thirty and just play their game. Without Armon we are dead in the water against good defensive teams, because of the selfishness of Crawford.

  • Mr. C

    I think a huge part of our poor showing in the first half last night was on the fans part. The place was silent for most of the first half and we really didn’t get into it until DJ coaxed us to our feet. I think it was a big deal that we were quiet for two reasons. First, IU is a team that needs the home court advantage to get fired up and play with heart. Most of our players react to the crowd and I think even more then that, DJ plays FOR the crowd. Second, Bruce Weber is a douche and we should have been ALL over him. Last year it was bad, I felt bad for parents with their kids. This year there were a few chants, but no material that he would have to discuss with his shrink.

    All that said, it was a great game and I am pleased with the victory. Armon is playing with heart, even though he had a terrible shot with under a minute (i guess the foul shots made up for it though).

  • Mr. C

    I think a huge part of our poor showing in the first half last night was on the fans part. The place was silent for most of the first half and we really didn’t get into it until DJ coaxed us to our feet. I think it was a big deal that we were quiet for two reasons. First, IU is a team that needs the home court advantage to get fired up and play with heart. Most of our players react to the crowd and I think even more then that, DJ plays FOR the crowd. Second, Bruce Weber is a douche and we should have been ALL over him. Last year it was bad, I felt bad for parents with their kids. This year there were a few chants, but no material that he would have to discuss with his shrink.

    All that said, it was a great game and I am pleased with the victory. Armon is playing with heart, even though he had a terrible shot with under a minute (i guess the foul shots made up for it though).

  • SocksShortsSwish

    A few observations:

    1. Jordan Crawford is just not a Big-10 point guard. Not yet, at least. Why don’t we give him a year or two to play the 2 or 3, since he obviously doesn’t see the floor well right now? Learn the game, then play point. Ellis would be a great backup for Bassett in the time being. Crawford is big enough to fill in at the 2 or 3, so let’s let him.

    2. Bassett makes this team go. He knows his role.

    3. Ratliff is back to his defensive form and looked like he’s gaining some cred with the rest of the team. Looked like he was the vocal leader with the players. Also looked like he had a couple new tats, always a plus.

    4. I’m setting up a fund with the Monroe County Savings Bank to buy Eli Holman a new shirt/tie/suit combo. Seriously, have never seen a red suit before. He looks like Ronald McDonald.

  • SocksShortsSwish

    A few observations:

    1. Jordan Crawford is just not a Big-10 point guard. Not yet, at least. Why don’t we give him a year or two to play the 2 or 3, since he obviously doesn’t see the floor well right now? Learn the game, then play point. Ellis would be a great backup for Bassett in the time being. Crawford is big enough to fill in at the 2 or 3, so let’s let him.

    2. Bassett makes this team go. He knows his role.

    3. Ratliff is back to his defensive form and looked like he’s gaining some cred with the rest of the team. Looked like he was the vocal leader with the players. Also looked like he had a couple new tats, always a plus.

    4. I’m setting up a fund with the Monroe County Savings Bank to buy Eli Holman a new shirt/tie/suit combo. Seriously, have never seen a red suit before. He looks like Ronald McDonald.

  • kelin

    Mr.C I agree we went easy on weber, he should have left crying.

  • kelin

    Mr.C I agree we went easy on weber, he should have left crying.

  • MKH

    I disagree. I don’t think it’s our job to “get on” an opposing coach so much as to get behind our guys and cheer. I see nothing to be proud of in “material that [Weber] would have to discuss with his shrink”. For all our talk about sportsmanship and our sour grapes about how Bruce Weber has conducted himself in the past year or two, the least we as a fanbase could do is show a little class.

  • MKH

    I disagree. I don’t think it’s our job to “get on” an opposing coach so much as to get behind our guys and cheer. I see nothing to be proud of in “material that [Weber] would have to discuss with his shrink”. For all our talk about sportsmanship and our sour grapes about how Bruce Weber has conducted himself in the past year or two, the least we as a fanbase could do is show a little class.

  • MKH

    I disagree. I don’t think it’s our job to “get on” an opposing coach so much as to get behind our guys and cheer. I see nothing to be proud of in “material that [Weber] would have to discuss with his shrink”. For all our talk about sportsmanship and our sour grapes about how Bruce Weber has conducted himself in the past year or two, the least we as a fanbase could do is show a little class.

  • Timmy

    Was at the game and this team’s biggest problem is we don’t play with an edge. We toyed with Illinois all game. We didn’t start playing until we were down 13-4, then turned it on to take a 14-13 lead then saw how easy it was and shut down again. This team needs a humbling loss right now if we are going to do any real damage in the tournament. We were totally unfocused yesterday and I think a lot of guys think we can just show up and win.

  • Timmy

    Was at the game and this team’s biggest problem is we don’t play with an edge. We toyed with Illinois all game. We didn’t start playing until we were down 13-4, then turned it on to take a 14-13 lead then saw how easy it was and shut down again. This team needs a humbling loss right now if we are going to do any real damage in the tournament. We were totally unfocused yesterday and I think a lot of guys think we can just show up and win.

  • Dale

    “This team needs a humbling loss right now if we are going to do any real damage in the tournament.” Are you kidding me Timmy? We’ve already lost to a more experienced Xavier team that put us in our place. I don’t think IU needs another loss to humble them…

  • Dale

    “This team needs a humbling loss right now if we are going to do any real damage in the tournament.” Are you kidding me Timmy? We’ve already lost to a more experienced Xavier team that put us in our place. I don’t think IU needs another loss to humble them…

  • Break

    MKH are you a student? EJ has been recieving DEATH THREATS from Illinois fans, I think the least we can do is make the opposing team fear AH. Also, from a strategic standpoint, Bruce Weber is very vulnerable and easily frustrated. If we could have pushed him to the brink and got him T’d the game would have gone in a whole new direction. And FINALLY, I am sick of seeing people sitting quietly like we are at a tennis match. I payed $270 for student tickets this year and I have mostly balcony. Alum buy the good seats and sit there not saying shit. Stay at home, let the GOOD tickets go to the GOOD fans who come and heckle, start chants, and hype up our players.

  • Break

    MKH are you a student? EJ has been recieving DEATH THREATS from Illinois fans, I think the least we can do is make the opposing team fear AH. Also, from a strategic standpoint, Bruce Weber is very vulnerable and easily frustrated. If we could have pushed him to the brink and got him T’d the game would have gone in a whole new direction. And FINALLY, I am sick of seeing people sitting quietly like we are at a tennis match. I payed $270 for student tickets this year and I have mostly balcony. Alum buy the good seats and sit there not saying shit. Stay at home, let the GOOD tickets go to the GOOD fans who come and heckle, start chants, and hype up our players.

  • Chris

    I have read very little about DeAndre Thomas since Mike White has gotten the starting nod. Am I the only one who thinks that he should be getting some more PT? He’s a much better offensive option that MW, so I understand Sampson not wanting to put him in at the same time as DJ, but Thomas’s passing and scoring skills seem to be going to waste on the bench. I understand he’s a foul-waiting-to-happen type player, because refs see his girth and decide he has to be the one who fouled, but he needs some more love from Coach Sampson.

  • Chris

    I have read very little about DeAndre Thomas since Mike White has gotten the starting nod. Am I the only one who thinks that he should be getting some more PT? He’s a much better offensive option that MW, so I understand Sampson not wanting to put him in at the same time as DJ, but Thomas’s passing and scoring skills seem to be going to waste on the bench. I understand he’s a foul-waiting-to-happen type player, because refs see his girth and decide he has to be the one who fouled, but he needs some more love from Coach Sampson.

  • MLove

    Listen ALL to are complaining abt the team, and how Sampson is not a good coach, and that we should have won by 20.

    We won, if you are knowledgable abt basketball and the Big ten in general you HAD TO KNOW that this Illinois team was going to try and not only come in and play hard but try and pull out a W. Yes, we were home, but illis always plays us tough. They play physical and were going to emphasis not gettting beat by Gordon and DJ (oh DJ quietly only had another Double Double). But, ppl relax we got a win, stop lookin for things to critize. Every little thing. Yes Jordan is RAW we all no that but we need him so getting him a good minutes now will only help us in the future.

    Please stop with all the hate bc you all really just wanted to kill this team. it didnt happen we won by four GET OVER IT. We didnt play well no one is arguing that but give some credit to a pesky Orange and Blue Team. We were down 7 in the second half and fought our tails off and WON!!!!!!! Past teams would have lost by 12. Gritty Performance by these kids. We are not going to blow every team out. Very rarely does it happen in the big ten.

    Do WORK… Lets go steal one in MINN!!!!!!

  • MLove

    Listen ALL to are complaining abt the team, and how Sampson is not a good coach, and that we should have won by 20.

    We won, if you are knowledgable abt basketball and the Big ten in general you HAD TO KNOW that this Illinois team was going to try and not only come in and play hard but try and pull out a W. Yes, we were home, but illis always plays us tough. They play physical and were going to emphasis not gettting beat by Gordon and DJ (oh DJ quietly only had another Double Double). But, ppl relax we got a win, stop lookin for things to critize. Every little thing. Yes Jordan is RAW we all no that but we need him so getting him a good minutes now will only help us in the future.

    Please stop with all the hate bc you all really just wanted to kill this team. it didnt happen we won by four GET OVER IT. We didnt play well no one is arguing that but give some credit to a pesky Orange and Blue Team. We were down 7 in the second half and fought our tails off and WON!!!!!!! Past teams would have lost by 12. Gritty Performance by these kids. We are not going to blow every team out. Very rarely does it happen in the big ten.

    Do WORK… Lets go steal one in MINN!!!!!!

  • Steve O

    i agree mlove… pure and simple, this was a win. maybe not a blowout, but in past years, this might have been a game we dropped at home. Illinois might not have the gaudy record we’re used to, but they are still a pretty good team. I’m not gonna complain since we won,but there were definately some things the team should work on before going into minn, which is a really tough place to play.

    i mean we just didnt shoot well yesterday. on another day we might have won this game by 20, but we arent gonna shoot 50% every game. and like coach said, it’s sweet that we struggled with shooting but still pulled out the win.

  • Steve O

    i agree mlove… pure and simple, this was a win. maybe not a blowout, but in past years, this might have been a game we dropped at home. Illinois might not have the gaudy record we’re used to, but they are still a pretty good team. I’m not gonna complain since we won,but there were definately some things the team should work on before going into minn, which is a really tough place to play.

    i mean we just didnt shoot well yesterday. on another day we might have won this game by 20, but we arent gonna shoot 50% every game. and like coach said, it’s sweet that we struggled with shooting but still pulled out the win.

  • Jim

    “Just shake people’s hands. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a class thing that most people would expect out of a Division 1 head coach. His assistants do it. His players do it. He should do it too.”

    I’m pretty sure I saw someone write that the assistants similarly did not shake the IU players’ hands, but I did not see for myself whether that was true or not. Can anyone confirm or deny?

  • Jim

    “Just shake people’s hands. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a class thing that most people would expect out of a Division 1 head coach. His assistants do it. His players do it. He should do it too.”

    I’m pretty sure I saw someone write that the assistants similarly did not shake the IU players’ hands, but I did not see for myself whether that was true or not. Can anyone confirm or deny?

  • T

    Mr. C: I hope that IU doesn’t need home court advantage to get fired up. They should be fired up as is for a Big Ten game, their first at home.

    Second, while I think a loud, frenzied crowd helps D.J., I wouldn’t say he plays for the crowd. He’s a more cerebrial player then people give him credit for, (like when he was the peace maker between Ellis and Randle late in the second half.

    Bottom line: The fans could have been louder/more hostile, but ultimately its up to the players to get themselves excited.

  • T

    Mr. C: I hope that IU doesn’t need home court advantage to get fired up. They should be fired up as is for a Big Ten game, their first at home.

    Second, while I think a loud, frenzied crowd helps D.J., I wouldn’t say he plays for the crowd. He’s a more cerebrial player then people give him credit for, (like when he was the peace maker between Ellis and Randle late in the second half.

    Bottom line: The fans could have been louder/more hostile, but ultimately its up to the players to get themselves excited.

  • Timmy

    MLOVE – you are wrong. We need to dominate like the Fab 5 from back in the day!

  • Timmy

    MLOVE – you are wrong. We need to dominate like the Fab 5 from back in the day!

  • nealE

    SocksShortsSwish, I have got to disagree with you on number 4. Eli looks pretty damn awesome in his red suit. that thing is a masterpiece.

    good tough win for the hoosiers. i was very happy to see AJ step up big time when we needed it. i’m still in a deep state of depression from yesterday and i can’t really say anything else. but lets just say the Hoosiers might have saved my life by pulling that one out.

  • nealE

    SocksShortsSwish, I have got to disagree with you on number 4. Eli looks pretty damn awesome in his red suit. that thing is a masterpiece.

    good tough win for the hoosiers. i was very happy to see AJ step up big time when we needed it. i’m still in a deep state of depression from yesterday and i can’t really say anything else. but lets just say the Hoosiers might have saved my life by pulling that one out.

  • MKH

    Break: Yes, I am a student. I guess it’s stupid of me to assume that Indiana basketball fans care about being respected or that we know anything about sportsmanship. We should all be just like those Illinois fans.

  • MKH

    Break: Yes, I am a student. I guess it’s stupid of me to assume that Indiana basketball fans care about being respected or that we know anything about sportsmanship. We should all be just like those Illinois fans.

  • Sherron Wilkerson

    Yes, if we would have lost to the Chief Weber after watching the biggest redneck QB in the history of the NFL beat the Colts I may have flew to “A Whales Vagina” and shot Rivers. It takes a big time A-hole to make me not cheer against the Pats but Redneck Rivers may have done it,a sincere thank you Mr. Basset for saving the day and maybe Rivers life

  • Sherron Wilkerson

    Yes, if we would have lost to the Chief Weber after watching the biggest redneck QB in the history of the NFL beat the Colts I may have flew to “A Whales Vagina” and shot Rivers. It takes a big time A-hole to make me not cheer against the Pats but Redneck Rivers may have done it,a sincere thank you Mr. Basset for saving the day and maybe Rivers life

  • Sherron Wilkerson

    Also I agree with MKH, we could have applied ourselves a little better heckling Weber, he is an immense Douch Hammer

  • Sherron Wilkerson

    Also I agree with MKH, we could have applied ourselves a little better heckling Weber, he is an immense Douch Hammer

  • MKH

    Ugh, I was at the Colts game. It was horrible.
    Anyway, the point I was trying to make is not that Weber is a great guy. We can all agree that he’s been a complete jerk, when he’s not been sniveling at the refs or about Sampson’s recruiting. I don’t even care about “Shut Up Weber” chants, and would gladly join in. I just don’t think we need to go any farther than that – I think doing so only makes us look poorly.

  • MKH

    Ugh, I was at the Colts game. It was horrible.
    Anyway, the point I was trying to make is not that Weber is a great guy. We can all agree that he’s been a complete jerk, when he’s not been sniveling at the refs or about Sampson’s recruiting. I don’t even care about “Shut Up Weber” chants, and would gladly join in. I just don’t think we need to go any farther than that – I think doing so only makes us look poorly.

  • chris

    doesnt bruce webber in the picture above look like butthead a little bit??

    http://www.kamworld.net/chris/images/Butthead.jpg

  • chris

    doesnt bruce webber in the picture above look like butthead a little bit??

    http://www.kamworld.net/chris/images/Butthead.jpg

  • Jerry

    I am not becoming a fan of our offense this year even though we can score points. We donot pick enough and then when we do the guards( Crawford especailly) go the wrong way. This takes away the “roll” as well as the intended mismatch opportunity. Illinois looked like they broke the code on our offense. Uconn game could be a heartbreaker for us if we play like this then.

  • Jerry

    I am not becoming a fan of our offense this year even though we can score points. We donot pick enough and then when we do the guards( Crawford especailly) go the wrong way. This takes away the “roll” as well as the intended mismatch opportunity. Illinois looked like they broke the code on our offense. Uconn game could be a heartbreaker for us if we play like this then.

  • dabig

    So, is Bassett’s injury better now? Will he start? Crawford’s not near ready.

  • dabig

    So, is Bassett’s injury better now? Will he start? Crawford’s not near ready.

  • Stephen

    That was the one thing that Packer got right, about Bassett. Other than that Packer was an absolute idiot and Verne Lunquist was not any better.

    For instance: DeAndre Thomas looks nothing like Eric Gordon, yet he called Gordon, Thomas on one occasion.

    What Else: Oh yeah, Thomas did not stomp on Pruit. In fact, Pruit took a swing at Stemler and Thomas, which I thought was an offense worthy of suspension. Yet somehow Thomas gets a tech as well. Calm me a blind Hoosier fan, but I didn’t see it.

    Ok, I’ll stop whining now….must have been carry over from listening to Illinois fans….My apologies…

    IU needs to step up BIG TIME in a game AT MINNESOTA. Tubby can coach and he has some solid players. I have grossly underestimated this Minnesota team so far. My hope is that this game against Illinois was a nice wake up call.

    Hopefully Armon can start and play plenty… Crawford can give us a few sporadically good minutes as needed.