Friday, January 26, 2007

Trending Up?

First off, thanks to Chief for his kind introduction, though I'm not sure I can live up to it. I can't begin to compare to EA -- the only edge I have on her is that I'm a proud Illini alum. I won't rank my sports IQ, but I do have opinions and I love my Illini!

And I love them still, though this basketball season has been a bit more painful than anticipated. Welcome to reality in the Big Ten, Illini fans. (Yes, this is the type of season most true college basketball fans experience.) It's tough to win on the road, and even at home you have to give 100%.

But I've seen promising trends in the last few games that give me hope that the second half of the conference season will be better than the first half:
1. More leadership. Carter, Pruitt and McBride have all stepped up and been more vocal on the court.
2. Less standing. Love the motion offense. It's fun to watch the boys in orange run in circles and get an open shot. But in the first half of the conference season, this team looked more like the Standing Illini. Recently there has been more movement and energy on the court -- keep it up, guys!
3. Fewer attempted 3s. Seriously, 25 attempts against Iowa? That's way too many. I was yelling at the TV every time they shot the 3, even when they made them. Not the way to win games -- even if you are making a respectable 35% from behind the arc.
4. More inside game. We are a big team, and we usually have an advantage inside. I like seeing the ball in Pruitt's and Carter's hands more often -- they take high percentage shots. And, we are getting more penetration off the dribble. Rich made 2 buckets inside the arc against Indiana, and Frazier is driving more, as well. That's a good way to get the sharp-shooters open outside without a hand in their face. Might help their confidence with all the well-documented shooting slumps.

Now, if we could just start making free throws...

However, we are capable of beating Purdue if we play our best. Go Illini!

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