Last night marked the first time the Illini Men's Basketball team was able to play a game against someone that wore a different jersey, and it was a learning experience for the players and the coaches. On Wednesday evening, the Illini welcomed Illinois Wesleyn into Assembly Hall for an exhibition game as both teams prepare for their respective seasons.
Unlike last season when there was not a question of who would start for the Illini, this season no one was exactly sure who would be starting for the Illini outside of Dee Brown and James Augustine. Warren Carter, Brian Randle, and Rich McBride joined Dee and James in the Illini starting lineup for the Illini's first exhibition game on Wednesday evening. Since this was an exhibition game, everyone on the team played (including CJ Jackson who I mistakenly said could not play in the exhibition game, or lose his redshirt in yesterday's Daily Column), and played about twenty minutes. Only Dee Brown and Jamar Smith played markedly more time than the twenty minutes as they received 29 and 26 minutes, respectively. While only CJ Jackson received markedly less time than the twenty minutes as he played only 11 minutes.
The Fighting Illini started off the game on a low note (a turnover from Dee Brown), but scored first (on a three-pointer by Rich McBride) and never trailed in the game. Illinois went into halftime with a 37-31 lead, and in the second half, the Illini pulled away from Wesleyn to win the game 82-60. One of the more interesting things with Thursday night's games was the substitution patterns of Bruce Weber, as it appeared he was following a set script. At the 15:59 mark, Chester Frazier and Shaun Pruitt entered the game with Warren Carter and Rich McBride departing. Then, at the 13:26 mark, Jamar Smith and Marcus Arnold entered the game with Dee Brown and James Augustine departing. Then, at the 12:06 mark, Calvin Brock, Warren Carter, and Dee Brown entered the game with Brian Randle, Chester Frazier, and Shaun Pruitt leaving. This seemingly scheduled substitutions happened throughout the first half as it appeared Bruce Weber was trying to see what lineups worked the best with each other, both on the perimeter and on the interior because unlike the chemistry the team had on the court last season from the get go, this team needs to learn a lot about where their teammates will be on the court, and Bruce Weber needs to learn how each group will play with each other while they are on the court.
Since I was unable to watch the game last night, I cannot really state who played well, and who played poorly, but like last season, I would like to look a little bit at the numbers to see how Illinois played on Thursday night.
Offensive Efficiency: 121.81
Defensive Efficiency: 92.48
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 37.93%
Defensive Rebound Percentage: 78.13%
True Shooting Percentage: 61.82% (this takes into account the benefit gained from making three point shots)
Coming early next week (probably Tuesday), I will statistics on the Illini's best five-man units from Thursday night's contest as well as individual +/- statistics (yes, they are returning from two years ago) from the Illinois Wesleyn game.
Brumby's Note: I apologize to everyone last night that had to apply for a membership to read the boards. There was a glitch in the message board system that caused that to happen from approximately 6:00 PM last night until after game time. The good news is, it should be fixed now. You still need to apply to post on the message boards, but you should be able to read them at any time. If you are having any problems accessing the message boards, please let me know.
Brumby's Daily Column: November 4, 2005
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