After games, college basketball staffs and players hold film sessions. The reviews could include watching the entire game. But most times, the sessions include select game segments or pulled clips to focus on specific areas of improvement.
I am going to take you inside the Illinois basketball film room and focus on two portions of the Illini's 81-77 loss to Chattanooga that were near polar opposites.
The first segment includes the start of the game to the 16:36 mark of the first half. The Illini have not started games well, So let's see what's going wrong in the minutes following the opening tip.
The second segment is in the second half from the 9:57 mark to the 6:26 mark. The Illini have played better in second halves, so we will see what they are doing well during that stretch.
Both of these segments include about 3:30 of game clock. The Illini lose the first segment 11-2. The Illini win the second segement 10-2. What is the difference?
20:00 - 16:36 of the first half
The Illini had six offensive possessions that led to two points. During five of those six possessions, the ball stayed on the first side of the floor, meaning the ball came across half court and stayed on the initial side of the court, never passed to the middle of the floor or reversed to the opposite side. The other possession was a turnover in the backcourt on a bad pass.
The Illini had seven defensive possessions and gave up 11 points. There were two miscommunications on switches that led to five points. There were two fouls on blockouts that led to extra possessions for the Mocs. There were also two baskets scored on the first side of the floor.
9:57-6:26 of the second half
The Illini had six offensive possessions in this segment that led to 10 points. On all six possessions, the ball got to a minimum of two sides (signifying good ball movement). The Illini had a post presence and looked for the High/Low on a few possessions. The only turnover came on a high/low pass.
The Illini had six defensive possessions in this segment and allowed just two points. There were zero miscommunications on switches. They only allowed one offensive rebound. Four of the possessions ended with a good blockout or a blocked shot from the weakside.
The Illini have to start games better. After the film session, the team will clearly see that they need better ball movement to start games on the offensive end. Look for the Illini to start the Chicago State game with some set plays that get ball and body movement with at least one change of the floor. There should also be a focus of getting the ball inside after the ball movement. It is just too easy for a defense to guard when there is little to no ball movement.
The Illini need to focus in on the defensive game plan. It is unacceptable to have two miscommunications on switches in the first four possessions. The Illini lost focus and missed assignments on the boards (two missed shots led to fouls on blockouts to extend possessions). In the opening minutes, the Illini also gave up baskets on first-side offense. Giving up points on the first side, meaning the offense barely has to work to find an open shot, is just a lack of effort and pride. The Illini need to find guys to play with energy right from the tip, and you can tell that John Groce is trying to find that mix after playing four different starting lineups in the first four games. If they can’t get energy from the start or can’t communicate on switches, maybe opening in a zone will throw opponents off their rhythm.
The Illini have shown good stretches in games. It is now a matter of limiting the bad stretches and extending the good ones. A great quote in the coaching profession is, “The film doesn’t lie”. The Illini need to take a look at the film and learn from it to continue to improve and stop the bleeding.
Sean Harrington is the basketball analyst for IlliniInquirer.com and also serves as a color analyst for ESPN. He played for four NCAA Tournament teams at Illinois, from 1999-2002. He also served on coaching staffs for Rick Majerus, Bill Self, Rob Judson and Bruce Weber. Follow him on Twitter @smharrington24.