Sunday, January 25, 2009

UW-Illinois thoughts

Sorry for the lateness of this post (Jim), yesterday my cousin and her fiance watched the boys while Jana and I enjoyed a relatively stress-free day in Appleton. We got home late, went to church first thing this morning, then naps for the boys. So I just got to watch the game.

Didn't have to. Listened to much of it while driving around Appleton and checked the box score when it was over, and that would have been all I would have needed to do to analyze this game.

Often, when we play noontime hoops at the fitness center in Iola, we'll be catching drinks from the bubbler between games when members of the losing team will say "What happened?" And much of the time the simple answer is "They made shots and we missed ours."

Which is what happened in Champaign. The Badgers' effort, on the whole, was encouraging. We held a slight rebounding edge, and had 10 offensive boards. Only five turnovers. Only one technical foul. Krabby had a really nice game --16 points, 12 boards. The three-guard offense featuring Jordan Taylor, which matched up against their three-guard lineup, seemed to generate more movement than we've seen on offense in recent games.

But oh, the shooting woes -- 35% from the field, 29% on 3-pointers, 69% from the free throw line. Illinois -- 50% from the field, 40% on 3-pointers, 82% from the line. Game over.

Really, we were missing makeable shots. The Illini defense was good, as expected, but we still got good looks that just didn't go down. Our defense is still just missing something that has made it elite over the years, and yielded good looks. They made their open looks.

Pop played better than at Iowa, but still shot 5-of-13, dragged down by the usual shot clock-beating heaves. Landry was more assertive but still missed some bunnies, as did Krabby. J-Bo and Leuer were totally off their games.

The final spread was seven points, and as I watched the game it dawned on me that Chester Frazier scored seven iffy points by himself -- a banked-in 3-pointer, two free throws on the Krabbenhoft blocking foul that drew Bo's technical (tough call, could have gone either way), and a desperation scoop he threw up to avoid a charge minutes later.

Purdue next ... could be another brick in a demoralizing stretch or could be the perfect foil for a momentum-changing win.

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