Brumby's Daily Column: November 21, 2005

Brumby looks at some of the news articles that are revolving around college athletics for the day and provides some thoughts on them and the world of Illini sports.

This weekend was the first weekend of college basketball, and it marked the end of the Illini college football season, and to be honest I could not be happier. Getting down to Champaign on Sunday for the game was great, and I was glad I was able to see the Fighting Illini in person for the first time this season. If you were unable to watch either of Illinois' first two games, has some coverage for you of the games:

I am working on the Box Score Breakdown right now for the Texas Pan American game. Let's just say the numbers are not too pretty.

The Illini closed out the football season with their ninth-straight loss during Saturday's Senior Day festivities. To say this senior class did not accomplish what they hoped to accomplish in their careers at Illinois would be an understatement, but right now the Illini need to look ahead to the future. If you were unable to watch the game, or decided that you had better things to do like crocheting a sweater or watching paint dry, has two game stories on the Illini's loss to Northwestern: That pretty much covers the weekend in Illini sports, but if you need more stories on this weekend's Illini sporting activities, remember you can always look at the Daily News Links for the latest in Illini news across the local newspapers.

There were some big upsets in college basketball this weekend, including (4) Michigan State's 84-62 loss when they travelled to Hawaii before this week's Maui Invitational and (13) Stanford's home loss to the Anteaters from from UC – Irvine, 79-63.

Michigan State @ Hawaii
Why did the Spartans lose? Simply put, cramps.

There, I just needed a good excuse to use that Paul Davis picture in a story on the IlliniBoard, and this was my excuse. I just wish I could have watched the game because there is nothing funnier than the Paul Davis cramping up face, and it seems to happen in one or two big games a year for Tom Izzo. No, Davis is not pillow soft as his critics say, he is much softer.

Not only did the cramps bug bite Davis, but the entire starting lineup seemed to forget they needed to drink a lot of fluids as Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown, and Drew Neitzel all left the game due to bad cramps. Without these players, Tom Izzo was forced to play a lineup of four freshman at one time, causing the Spartans to look more like East Lansing Senior High School than the Top Five team they were expected to be as the season began.

Besides the cramping, what else caused the downfall of the Spartans? It was an all out effort of a combination of bad offense and bad defense. Last season Michigan State was one of the more effective offensive teams in the country, but on Saturday night in Hawaii the Spartans were not even scoring one point per possession, while they were allowing the Rainbows to score more than one point per possession. Combine bad offense, bad defense, and bad cramps and you have the makings for a major upset in Hawaii. Luckily for the Spartans, they were in Hawaii. If there is one person in East Lansing that is happy with the basketball team's loss it might be John L. Smith because for just one night, the basketball team overshadowed the collapse his football team endured at the end of the Big Ten season.

UC Irvine @ Stanford
The Anteaters defeated the Cardinal in Maples Arena on Saturday night by 16 points. Sure it is early, but losing at home to UC Irvine is not something that a Final Four contender does, and some people have picked the Cardinal to be a contender to appear in Indianapolis this season. Stanford coach Trent Johnson may have hoped for a second that he was back at Nevada, and not coaching Stanford on Saturday night after what he deemed an "ugly" performance.

Why did Stanford lose? Well, the AP story puts it in pretty simple terms: "Stanford got outhustled, outmuscled, outrebounded and outshot -- and coach Trent Johnson could hardly believe his eyes." But is there more to this story?

How about shooting 34.4% from the floor and allowing UC Irvine to shoot 58.8% from the floor? Yeah, that might have had something to do with it. The interesting thing when you look at the numbers is outside of shooting percentage, the Cardinal were either ahead or close enough that you would think the game was much closer. The rebounding edge for UC Irvine was only 5 rebounds, and Stanford had 6 more offensive rebounds (that is because they clanked 42 shots). Stanford also took very good control of the ball as they only had 10 turnovers compared with UC Irvine's 16.

So yeah, shooting is why Stanford lost this game, especially when Dan Grunfeld went 9-23 from the floor and Chris Hernandex was 4-12.

Another team that was expected to be in the upper echelon of the Big Ten had a scare on Saturday evening as Eastern Kentucky took Wisconsin to double over time before the Badgers were able to close them out with a 95-89 victory. Alando Tucker led the way for the Badgers with a double double, 38 points and 10 rebounds in 44 minutes of play. Also joining the scoring party was freshman Marcus Landry who scored 19 points and pulled down 8 rebounds. What was the reason the Badgers struggled? Simply put their defense was not that good. The Badgers were able to score at will against Eastern Kentucky, but they were not able to stop their opponent, as they were allowing Eastern Kentucky to score almost 1.14 points per possession.

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