Monday, February 23, 2009

One of These Days -- Much More Fun!

Shooting 58.3% (nearly 53% from behind the arc), assists on 23 of 28 baskets and demoralizing 3s as the shot clock went off. That's the way to recover from the painful performance earlier last week. And one of these days -- where shots fall even in a hostile environment -- is way more fun for teams and fans.

The Illini went into Columbus (not a place that has been kind to them in the past few years) and played like a completely different team than the one that was at Assembly Hall last week. In fact, they brought their best shooting game of the conference season, and they needed it to hold on against the Buckeyes. But hold on they did, 70-68.

In the recent past, zone defenses have concerned me. It seems that the Illini usually struggle to figure out how to get inside or get the 3s to fall. But this year, zones almost make me on behalf of Mike Davis. His mid-range game is a thing of beauty. Davis has a knack for flashing in the holes of a zone near the free throw line, and nation's team with the highest percentage of assists on baskets can get him the ball quickly and efficiently for easy baskets. That's how Davis got many of his team-leading 22 points Sunday. So, bring on the zone. This Illini team can get through it well.

While the mid-range game has been fun to watch, the long-range game is a bit different. I love the kick-out for the open 3, or the in-rhythm shots when Trent or Demetri are set and ready to fire. But I have to agree with my brother that it's a bit annoying when a desperation 3 is launched as the shot clock runs out, and it falls. As he pointed out, those plays reward the offense for not being able to execute. However, I do appreciate how shots like Chester's two deep 3s demoralize opponents, despite the reinforcement for a poor offensive possession. And it IS fun to watch those shots fall.

Next up: Minnesota at home. Go Illini!

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