Illinois @ Indiana: Box Score Breakdown

The Fighting Illini continued Big Ten Conference play this week with a trip to Bloomington, IN. This edition of the Box Score Breakdown will look at Illinois' game against the Hoosiers focusing on the effectiveness of the three-guard lineup in Illinois two-point loss to the Hoosiers.

Illinois' loss to Indiana in Bloomington is one of those type of games where the plus / minus system can be a very effective way to look at how different lineups performed during the game. Illinois started out the game by building up a large lead. Throughout the middle of the game, the Illini played poorly as Indiana came back from the deficit and then took a large lead themselves. Finally, the Illini stormed back to make the game close in the final minutes before falling just short at the end. Games like this provide an interesting look at how differing lineups performed on the court.

FIVE MAN DETAILS

Player 1 Player 2 Player 3 Player 4 Player 5 Differential Time on Floor
Dee Brown Chester Frazier Brian Randle Warren Carter James Augustine 8 2:53
Chester Frazier Rich McBride Brian Randle Warren Carter Shaun Pruitt 4 0:49
Dee Brown Chester Frazier Brian Randle Warren Carter Shaun Pruitt 2 0:44
Dee Brown Rich McBride Brian Randle Marcus Arnold James Augustine 1 5:21
Dee Brown Chester Frazier Rich McBride Shaun Pruitt James Augustine 1 1:25
Dee Brown Rich McBride Brian Randle Warren Carter James Augustine 1 0:44
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Rich McBride Warren Carter James Augustine 1 0:17
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Brian Randle Marcus Arnold James Augustine 1 0:16
Chester Frazier Rich McBride Brian Randle Marcus Arnold James Augustine 0 0:59
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Rich McBride Warren Carter Shaun Pruitt 0 0:58
Dee Brown Chester Frazier Rich McBride Warren Carter James Augustine 0 0:18
Chester Frazier Jamar Smith Rich McBride Warren Carter James Augustine 0 0:03
Chester Frazier Rich McBride Brian Randle Warren Carter James Augustine -1 1:58
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Brian Randle Shaun Pruitt James Augustine -1 1:49
Dee Brown Rich McBride Brian Randle Shaun Pruitt James Augustine -2 8:48
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Rich McBride Brian Randle Shaun Pruitt -2 2:26
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Rich McBride Brian Randle James Augustine -2 2:02
Dee Brown Chester Frazier Brian Randle Shaun Pruitt James Augustine -2 1:48
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Rich McBride Shaun Pruitt James Augustine -2 1:45
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Rich McBride Marcus Arnold James Augustine -2 0:27
Dee Brown Rich McBride Brian Randle Warren Carter Shaun Pruitt -3 3:07
Dee Brown Chester Frazier Rich McBride Brian Randle Shaun Pruitt -4 1:03


Best Five Man Unit: Dee Brown, Chester Frazier, Brian Randle, Warren Carter, and James Augustine (+8 in 2:53)
Worst Five Man Unit: Dee Brown, Chester Frazier, Rich McBride, Brian Randle, and Shaun Pruitt (-4 in 1:03)

  • The Illini's best lineup was in the game when the Illini made their run between 7:28 and 4:35 in the second half. I have to believe the only reason this lineup ended up changing was because James Augustine picked up his fourth foul, and found a spot on the bench for the next forty-four seconds. When Augustine came back in the game, he replaced Warren Carter, and the Illini played with that lineup for the next 1:48 on the clock.

    Bruce Weber obviously found a lineup that worked, and he was sticking with it.
  • The Illini starting lineup was able to jump ahead of the Hoosiers giving the Illini an 8-3 lead before Bruce Weber subbed in Marcus Arnold for Shaun Pruitt at the 16:21 mark (the traditional time he does that in a game). The problem was in the second half, the same lineup starting out the second half was not as effective. In the first stretch of the game, Weber had Pruitt staying behind Marco Killingsworth, but in the start of the second half, Pruitt was fronting the Hoosier big man. This coincided with the Hoosiers starting to build up their big second half lead.
GUARD / FORWARD COMBINATIONS

Player 1 Player 2 Player 3 Differential Time on Floor
Dee Brown Chester Frazier 8 5:25
Chester Frazier Rich McBride 3 3:46
Dee Brown Jamar Smith 0 2:05
Chester Frazier Jamar Smith Rich McBride 0 0:03
Dee Brown Rich McBride -3 18:00
Dee Brown Chester Frazier Rich McBride -3 2:46
Dee Brown Jamar Smith Rich McBride -7 7:55


Best Guard Combination: Dee Brown & Chester Frazier (+8)
Worst Guard Combination: Dee Brown, Jamar Smith, and Rich McBride (-7)

Player 1 Player 2 Player 3 Differential Time on Floor
Brian Randle Warren Carter James Augustine 8 5:35
Brian Randle Warren Carter Shaun Pruitt 3 4:40
Brian Randle Marcus Arnold James Augustine 2 6:36
Warren Carter James Augustine 1 0:38
Warren Carter Shaun Pruitt 0 0:58
Shaun Pruitt James Augustine -1 3:10
Brian Randle James Augustine -2 2:02
Marcus Arnold James Augustine -2 0:27
Brian Randle Shaun Pruitt James Augustine -5 12:25
Brian Randle Shaun Pruitt -6 3:29


Best Forward Combination: Brian Randle, Warren Carter, and James Augustine (+8) Worst Forward Combination: Brian Randle & Shaun Pruitt (-6)

Last year, Illinois thrived running a three guard offense with Dee Brown, Luther Head, and Deron Williams. This year, Illinois has gone to the three guards combining Brown, Chester Frazier, Rich McBride, and Jamar Smith in many different combinations of the three. Coming into the game with the Hoosiers, there were questions with how the Illini would match up with the Hoosiers, who since DJ White's injury, have started a very small lineup with Robert Vaden starting at the traditional power forward position.

With the interesting match ups in Tuesday night's contest, it allowed for an interesting study as to when and how the Illini playing small versus going with a more traditional lineup worked against a team with an unconventional lineup. Just looking at the two-guard lineups, only the starting backcourt of Dee Brown and Rich McBride netted a negative result for the Illini on the court (the entire starting lineup netted a negative result as well).

Illinois Playing Two Guards
Net Result: +8
Net Game Time: 29:16

Illinois Playing Three Guards
Net Result: -10
Net Game Time: 10:44

Against Indiana, the Illini spent most of the time in the two guard lineup, and it obviously worked. When the Illini went small, either to give Brian Randle rest at the wing forward, or to better match up with the Hoosiers, the Hoosiers seemingly went on runs.

On Tuesday night, the Illini only went small for a one minute stretch prior to the 5:32 mark in the first half, when Bruce Weber made his traditional substitution of Jamar Smith into the game just after the sixteen minute media timeout. Then when the Illini went small at the end of the first half, with Brian Randle slotting over to the four spot, the Hoosiers went on a run to close out the half (a 6-0 Hoosier run to give them a 23-19 lead).

It was during the second half when the Weber's decision to play small caused the most problems. One might think Weber's hand was forced due to foul trouble considering Brian Randle fouled out of the game and James Augustine ended the game with four fouls, but I don't know if that was the case or not. Yes, Randle did pick up his fourth foul with 12:08 in the game and the Illini went small, but even before that Illinois went small.

Over a four minute and fourteen second stretch in the second half, Indiana went on an 11-2 run, putting them down 53-38 with 9:56 left on the clock. Only for thirty-three seconds during that stretch did the Illini have in a two guard lineup (Dee Brown and Jamar Smith). The slide started after Illinois had pulled to within six, and when Bruce Weber decided to move Brian Randle down to the power forward position to better match up with Indiana's personnel on the court, namely a three guard attack with a wing forward (Robert Vaden) playing an undersized four.

The Illini did not make their comeback in the second half until the Illini went with a big, but very athletic lineup playing Brian Randle, Warren Carter, and James Augustine in the front court. The backcourts during this time started out with Chester Frazier and Rich McBride, and eventually became just Brown and Frazier, who teamed up for just under three minutes as the Illini made a 9-1 run to close the Hoosiers' lead to 56-52.

Now this game was just one small sample size, but it did illustrate the effectiveness of Illinois playing "big" versus "small". While I have not looked in depth at the previous games in the Big Ten, this pattern has been there. Against Michigan, the two guard lineups were much more effective than a three guard lineup. Against Michigan State, the three guard lineup for Dee Brown, Chester Frazier, and Rich McBride was extremely effective, and the two guard lineups struggled. While against Iowa no lineup was particularly effective for the Illini, especially the Illini's starting backcourt tandem of Brown and McBride.

More research needs to be done before I can actually determine which works better for Illinois this season, but I do have the theory that Illinois is a much more effective team when they are playing big because it puts Brian Randle on the floor at the wing. When Illinois is playing big, they are also more effective on the offensive glass, something that has kept the Illini offense going in their sixteen wins this season, but been missing in both of their losses.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Player Name Differential
Warren Carter 12
Chester Frazier 8
James Augustine 1
Brian Randle 0
Marcus Arnold 0
Dee Brown -5
Jamar Smith -7
Shaun Pruitt -9
Rich McBride -10


Best Player: Warren Carter (+12)
Worst Player: Rich McBride (-10)

Despite his career high in scoring, Shaun fell on the negative side of the +/- statistic. He was simply not in the game at the right time for the Illini. He played while the Illini built up their lead early, but he was also in the game early in the second half as the Hoosiers crawled back into the lead.

It was interesting to see the difference in how Pruitt guarded Killingsworth from the first half to the second half, and it makes you wonder why Weber decided to front him in the second half when staying behind him during the first half had frustrated him immensely (the intentional foul, and the love toss of the ball into Pruitt's face after his only made basket of the half).


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