Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We're So Blue...

If the...game?...between the Illini and Michigan State didn't make you blue, what would? Personally, I'm a bit nauseous. Poor shooting, abundant turnovers, plenty of fouls, great frustration, injuries and poor decisions on both sides made for an u-g-l-y game.

But a win is a win is a win is a win, and Bruce and his boys really, really needed one. Even if they didn't deserve it.

Defense -- for both the Spartans and the Illini -- was the only real bright spot. The Spartans shut down Meyers Leonard, and the Illini, plus fouls and the flu, kept Draymond Green from having much of an impact. The Illini (and an overinflated ball, according to commentator Dan Dakish) held the Spartans to just 24% shooting. And even with 18 offensive rebounds, the Spartans couldn't hold on to a lead.

Tom Izzo's team, fresh off victory #400 for their coach, did everything they could to let the Illini win. And with their characteristic generosity, the Illini did everything in their power to give those opportunities right back to the Spartans:

All that seemed to fit with the Coaches vs. Cancer blue-out that gave Assembly Hall a much more subdued feel than usual. [Note to the Sports Marketing Department: I'm sure the promotion was great for t-shirt sales, but let's skip this one next year.]

However, Paul did lead the Illini with 18 points and 5 assists during his full 40 minutes on the floor. And Myke Henry provided valuable minutes, points, rebounds and hustle off the bench.

This game tape will provide plenty of fodder for the rest of the conference to figure out how to contain the Illini as they head into a brutal road schedule. And plenty of fodder for Coach Weber and staff to harp on during meetings and practice. The boys left plenty to improve on in this game.

But the win was much needed, so we'll take it.


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