I think it is going to be hard this year to listen to Illini games on TV that do not talk about the adjustment that Dee Brown is making as a point guard. There are articles about it, questioning how he is doing, and then there are articles saying he will be fine plastered in the papers and on the Internet. This is what is going to happen when you have high expectations tossed on you based on last season's performance, and Dee is in the national spotlight. He might just be the face of college basketball, even more so than JJ Redick and his famed poetry.
I think it is easy right now to just sit there and state Dee has struggled with his transition to becoming the main ball handler for the Illini this season, but I also think that is a simplistic way to look at it. Sure his shooting is down dramatically, as the numbers show:
Freshman Year: 43.4 FG%, 32.9 3P%, 1.07 PSA
Sophomore Year: 41.1 FG%, 34.6 3P%, 1.04 PSA
Junior Year: 49.9 FG%, 43.4 3P%, 1.32 PSA
Senior Year: 34.3 FG%, 27.9 3P%, 0.92 PSA
But that is not the only thing that is different this season. Now, Dee is the guy that the players are looking to. He is the guy that gets the ball when the shot clock is down, and he is the guy that needs to make the plays. On Monday night, Dee still shot the ball poorly because he often times rushed shots and was fading away on his shots, but in the second half, he especially ran the offense well.
I do wonder if the fading away on his shots is a direct result from his broken foot he suffered during the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in June in Chicago. I broke my ankle when I was a senior in high school, and one of the things I would do while my friends were playing basketball was sit on the other end of the court and shoot baskets one-footed. Since I did that, and I am sure Dee is one million times the gym rat I am, he probably took quite a few jump shots one-footed. One of the things that did to me is it had me fading away shooting more than I normally did because I lifted up the broken ankle and extended it so I would not land on it after shooting. This could be one reason why Dee is fading away from this season on his jump shot than he did in the past, especially last season.
Another, and probably the more likely reason is Dee is rushing his shots, and to do that he just fades away because it is the easiest way to get a shot off. Either way, Dee needs to correct this part of his game for his offense to improve, but his game management is getting better day after day, and as his career-high of 10 assists showed today he is getting into more of a rhythm with his teammates. In fact his assist rate today was: 43.71!
Last night I watched the Gonzaga / Washington game, and I can say that I love watching Pac 10 basketball. Why? Because it is like an homage to the basketball in the 1970s and 1980s when defense was optional, and offense was the name of the game. It is just a fun basketball game to watch. A few notes on that game:
1.Adam Morrison, you are not Larry Bird, you never will be, so please shave that mustache. In fact your mustache makes Kyle Orton's neck beard and mustache not look like the worst thing this side of Elvis Grbac's Gr-Beard.
2.How little defense was played? How about this for each team's offensive efficiency ... Gonzaga: 112.37 and Washington: 117.10. Yep, both teams allowed their opponent to score more than one point per possession, and while it was a fun game, it will be interesting to see what happens when each of these teams run into a team that actually plays defense (Michigan State does not count as they really don't play defense any more, but they live off their reputation that states they do).
In the shocking upset of the day Northwestern State (from Louisiana) went into Gallagher-Iba Arena and beat Oklahoma State 68-64 on Monday night. Northwestern State led at the half by three, and hung on in the second half for a four-point win. Looking at the overall numbers, it is pretty interesting to point out that Oklahoma State shot about equal from the floor (42.6% for oSu and 43.3% for NSU) and actually shot better from behind the arc (5-12 from oSu and 6-17 from NSU) and better from the free throw line. Why did they lose the game? Simple, they committed 4 more turnovers and allowed Northwestern State to pull down 17 offensive rebounds (or an offensive rebounding percentage of 43.59%).
Texas blew out Rice on Monday night in Houston's Toyota Center. The Longhorns will now have the rest of the week to get ready for Duke on Saturday. This brings about an interesting question, why is Illinois playing an NBA like schedule in the last two weeks?
The schedule in this run is interesting to say the least. Illinois flew to North Carolina on Tuesday night for the Big Ten / ACC Challenge. Played a game in Chicago on Saturday afternoon. Played a game on Monday night. They will play a game on Thursday night against Georgetown, and then will get on a plane on Friday to fly out to Portland to take on Oregon in the Rose Garden. That is a lot of traveling for a college team, and I wonder why the Arkansas – Little Rock game was thrown in here on Monday instead of waiting for some of the down time that the Illini would have had available to them between finals and the start of conference play in January.
Brumby's Daily Column: December 6, 2005
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