That was a pathetic performance and complete collapse against an incredible team.

It's easy to look at the obvious lack of athleticisim and talent we ran out on the court compared to a team like Ohio State. We can talk about inferior recruiting all we want. But what I'm concerned with is Bruce Weber's inability to get his team to execute on offense, and to place them in a position to succeed. You've got use the tools you have. Weber's motion offense worked wonderfully when Deron Williams and Luther Head and Dee Brown and Roger Powell were on the floor for the Orange & Blue. But without them, it's a rather week strategy, don't you think? Against superior athletes, the Illini can not get open looks, whether running around screens or with ball in hand. Basketball is all about taking high-percentage shots, and this Illini team is simply not getting many. Weber needs to add more wrinkles and set plays. There's no reason why Smith, Carter, and Pruitt shouldn't take a collective 35-40 shots per game. It's Weber's job to create enough opportunities for them to accomplish that goal.

Other than that, I blame Weber -- who looks as if he's losing his team -- for not finding a way to challenge this team to rally against adversity. To fire the team up -- in game, in the huddle, on the sidelines. Make them the aggressor they are not. The fact that we don't get to the line very often and settle for too many contested threes will just continue to punish this team as the season wears on.

The 2007 Illini are an effective defensive squad. Even with Ohio State's intense offensive surge in the first half, the Buckeyes still finished the game shooting just 31 percent on threes and 34 percent from the floor. Great offensive teams will go through hot stretches, and that hot stretch essentially won the game for Ohio State, because we folded after it. But I can't fault the defense for the breakdown. It happens. However, offensively we took more bad shots in one game than we've taken in the previous five combined. We looked lost, without a game plan and without a leader.

It's easy to say, "Man, we should've nabbed Thad Matta as our coach when we had the chance." But that's not the hand we've been dealt. I'm okay with Weber as coach, as long as HE starts making some adjustments and finds a way to get his team to respond to a true challenge.

My two cents.

/end rant

I was dead-on in my guess of a 12-3 pre-conference mark. So far, my 9-7 guess for their Big Ten record may be a bit optimistic. Hope I'm wrong.

1 comment:

Don Gerard said...

I still believe in Weber. He took those SIU teams to the Sweet 16 with a bunch of absolute nobodies on the floor.

Unfortunately, Warren is just too nice and McBride is completely AWOL. Weber can bark all he wants, but somebody out on the floor has to push those younger guys to the next level.

There is still time.