Knee-Jerk Thoughts on Last Night's Action
1.) It was readily apparent why the Sports Guy picked Louisville to upset the Illini: he's an unabashed NBA slapdick, and the Cardinals played as much like a stereotypical NBA squad as any college team I watched all year. Their offense last night consisted almost exclusively of clear-outs for 1-on-1s, peppered with a few set plays which basically amounted to double-screens for 3-pointers. That seems like precisely the kind of thing a fan of the NBA - where the drive-and-kick is the height of passing - would enjoy. Thank God they're out of the tournament.
2.) It was frustrating to watch as the Illini's lead hovered between 2 and 6 for most of the game, as Dids and I had agreed that as soon as Illinois could push the lead to 8 or 10, the Cardinals would start grabbing and holding on defense, heaving up off-balance 3-pointers on offense, and generally acting like a team full of stupid players. Which is exactly what happened.
3.) It was equally frustrating to watch the Illini absolutely refuse to get the ball to the high post in the first half. Swinging the ball quickly around the perimeter is nice and all, but it will essentially get you nothing except 19 three-point attempts in one half. It got to the point where it was so obvious that this needed to be done, that even Billy Packer was saying "they really need to start getting the ball into the middle of that zone." If the Fudge-meister is picking up on something you should be doing, then you can bet it is some kind of GLARING oversight.
4.) Many knowledgeable prognosticators who had even a passing familiarity with the Big Ten this year were saying that Roger Powell was gonna be the key to the game. That's why it was thoroughly unsurprising that Nantz and Packer seemed shocked that Powell was capable of anything other than an occasional put-back. "Where was he in the first half?!" Well Billy, he picked up a second foul less than four minutes into the game. That might have had something to do with his 2-point performance in the first half. You dumb shit.
5.) The difference in the late game was the 6-minute stretch at the beginning of the second half where each team was basically getting the same shots, but Carolina made all of theirs and Michigan State (quite literally) missed all of theirs. Fuck Seth Davis - the pace didn't get to Michigan State nearly as much as their poor shooting did. Turnarounds that Paul Davis was knocking down in the first half started clanging off the back of the iron, and 3-pointers that Shannon Brown was hitting in the first half started bouncing up over the backboard.
6.) You know what, Fudge, I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason Sean May is getting beaten down the floor, walking around when the rest of his team is running, and needing breathers every few minutes isn't so much because of "all the banging going on underneath." I think it has much more to do with the fact that the guy is fat. Yes, he's unstoppable when he gets the ball in the post. But he's fat. Just say it, it won't hurt you.
7.) If you happened to miss the game, I just described everything of importance about it for you.
On Monday night, if North Carolina decides to go on a 6- or 7-minute stretch where they make 85% of the shots they take, Illinois is in trouble. If the more athletic Illini bigs can wear down May, that'll help. If Weber continues his bizarre practice of using Powell on the opposing team's best inside scoring option (resulting in Powell guarding May and Augustine checking Jawad Williams), the Illini may be in some trouble. It should be fun to watch, not even considering the outside chance that Nantz and Packer will actually get down on their knees and fellate Roy Williams. At the very least, we won't have to keep listening to Nantz inexplicably (and distractingly) referring to Kelvin Torbert as "Torbit." So we've got that going for us. Which is nice.