Brumby's Daily Column: November 30, 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.

Obviously the big news around the Illini universe today is the Illini's 68-64 win over North Carolina in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge on Tuesday evening. The game recap is available here. The talk on the Hoops Fan Forum has surrounded a few things, but the two that have stood out are Dee Brown's struggles and what fans hope is the emergence of Brian Randle.

Instead of writing more on Dee's struggles, I will just copy what I put in the game recap, and say that before Friday I am going to re-watch this game, and just focus on Dee Brown on both sides of the ball and give a Behind the Boxscore look at the game he played on Tuesday night. So without further adieu, here is what I said in the game recap on Dee Brown, with some pertinent passages highlighted.

Early in this season, the Illini games have been characterized by many things, but one common thread that has run through almost every game, Dee Brown pushing himself too hard. He did it in the first two games of the season, and then he calmed down for a very good game against Texas Southern where he let it come to him. Then against Wichita State with the Illini offense struggling, he pushed himself to do too much and got out of his comfort zone again. Tuesday night's game was not the best performance for Dee, but it was because he was trying to do to much. When Brown had an open three-pointer, he never set his feet and often times took the shot while somewhat fading away. The other thing Dee did was try to take too many shots off the dribble. Yes, I want to see him develop a mid-range game, but right now he is more forcing the mid-range than letting it come to him in the offense. This is partially by design as he is the guy to take the tough shots in the offense, but I think he was doing it too much too soon on Tuesday night.

Enough with the harping on the negatives from Brown on Tuesday night. He was the player who iced the game for the Illini, and he wanted the ball when the game was on the line. He controlled the tempo for the Illini, by pressuring the young Carolina backcourt into a speed they were not extremely comfortable with, though they did hold their own. On offense, Dee was great at getting past his defender and getting to the rim for the easy layup. When he started struggling offensively was when the Carolina defense started to rotate to stop his drives from getting all the way to the basket.
One thing I did not focus on in the game recap, that I would like to focus on is why didn't the Illini get the ball inside more?

James only took six shots. Shaun Pruitt, though he was hampered by foul trouble, only took two shots. Marcus Arnold only took two shots. Warren Carter only took two shots. That is just 12 shots from the Illini big men out of the Illini's 54 total shots (22.2% of the Illini's shots). The need for the Illini to get the ball in the post was extremely obvious when the Illini went on a 5:32 long streak in the final minutes of the game without scoring a basket. In that stretch, the Play by Play from shows the following occurring:

5:59 – Shaun Pruitt missed Two Point Dunk Shot (this shot was blocked, and was a turnover on a jump ball)
4:26 – Dee Brown missed Three Point Jumper
3:40 – Rich McBride missed Three Point Jumper
2:55 – Dee Brown missed Two Point Jumper
1:29 – Rich McBride missed Three Point Jumper
1:07 – Brian Randle made Two Point Layup

Notice there was only one attempted shot by an Illini big man in this stretch. There were four jumpers taken, only one from inside the three point line. When an offense is struggling to score points, getting the ball as close to the basket as possible is very advantageous, but the Illini were not looking to do that. It is one flaw in Bruce Weber's motion offense, the guards do not look in the post too often to get scoring opportunities for the big men, and the big men are not allowed to set up shop and get possession. Long scoreless stretches would be a perfect time for the Illini to lock James Augustine in the post, and let him work against his defender to get an easy basket, or get to the free throw line.

Elsewhere around the Big Ten / ACC Challenge ...

Wake Forest got past the Wisconsin Badgers in Winston – Salem, North Carolina. The Demon Deacon's were lead by Justin Gray's 37-points, and the only thing I remember about this game is that it took too long because it made me miss the first four points of the Illini contest (of course it was four points from Pruitt and Augustine on the inside).

Purdue got slaughtered by Florida State. Umm, Matt Painter ... wow. Just consider yourself lucky that Penn State is still in the Big Ten, and Ed DeCellis is not going to have a career resurgence like his football counterpart.

Penn State lost in, when it comes to basketball, not-so Happy Valley to Clemson. The amazing thing is how little defense Clemson played because they allowed Penn State to score 88 points, an amount it normally takes Penn State two Big Ten Conference games to achieve. (Clemson's Defensive Efficiency on the night: 113.29) The horrible defense is expected from Penn State. Ed DeCellis may be the first person to wish he was back in Jackson City, TN.

Michigan evened up the Challenge for the Big Ten with a 74-53 victory over Miami in Ann Arbor. Tommy Amaker celebrated by going out and buying a new polo shirt / sport coat combination at the local Kohl's.

Now, on to football recruiting ...

Umm, this guy named Isiah Williams is coming to Illinois. The Chicago Sun Times was able to get an interview with the star quarterback from Vocational HS, and he re-iterated that he was 100% solid for Illinois. I would thank the Sun Times for a shout out after Juice talked about the IlliniBoard, but apparently Steve Tucker is too much of a dope to give the IlliniBoard props. I guess that is why I like Herb Gould much more, well that and Herb has bought me a beer, or a dozen.

Hmm, what is Juice talking about here?

"I went on the Illini [message] board on Thanksgiving to tell everyone not to worry and to have a great holiday. I really don't want all that crazy stuff.''

Oh, probably this post on on the IlliniBoard. Not, the Illini [message] board.

In football recruiting visitors for this weekend, DE Jerry Brown, a "soft commit" for Illinois will be visiting Champaign this weekend. In that update from Josh Clark, Jerry talks about why he is coming to Champaign, and how he and Coach Reggie Mitchell worked out some mis-perceptions he had in the recent days as he was talking with other reporters.

Now, on to basketball recruiting news ...

Eric Gordon's press conference to announce his verbal commitment to the University of Illinois is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:15 at his high school, North Central HS in Indianapolis, IN. If you are in the area and can attend, I am sure there cannot be enough orange in the crowd to welcome a new member to the Illini family. Congratulations again Coach Weber and staff for landing the big fish!

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