Things started out bleak for the Illini on Tuesday evening. The Badgers built up a big first half lead, and James Augustine was watching the game from the bench. Bruce Weber had a difficult decision to make, do you keep James on the bench to ensure he does not pick up his third foul before halftime, or do you put him in the game? Weber made the right decision, the only decision he could make, he put Augustine back into the game in order to stop the blood letting the Illini had endured while he was on the bench, and hope to finish out the first half without getting completely blown out by the Badgers.
Well, things sort of did not work out the way they were expected to with the reinsertion of James into the lineup. No, the Illini did not just keep the game respectable heading into halftime, the Illini went on a 19-0 run, and actually took the lead heading into the locker room.
In game's past when Weber has seen Augustine in foul trouble, he has resisted the urge to put him back in the game before halftime, but on Tuesday night he knew a very winnable road game in the Big Ten was falling away from his team's grasp, and he could not let that happen. He went down the sidelines, found the one thing that could spark the Illini offense and defense (which had allowed 18 points in the just under six minutes Augustine was on the bench), his senior power forward saddled with two fouls. A bold coaching maneuver that probably changed the game from a blow out in the favor of Bo Ryan's Wisconsin Badgers to what turned out to be a 15-point Illini victory.
FIVE MAN DETAILS
|Player 1||Player 2||Player 3||Player 4||Player 5||Differential||Time on Floor|
|Dee Brown||Jamar Smith||Rich McBride||Brian Randle||James Augustine||25||12:07|
|Dee Brown||Jamar Smith||Rich McBride||Shaun Pruitt||James Augustine||5||2:15|
|Dee Brown||Chester Frazier||Rich McBride||Brian Randle||Shaun Pruitt||2||1:36|
|Dee Brown||Rich McBride||Brian Randle||Shaun Pruitt||James Augustine||1||7:01|
|Dee Brown||Chester Frazier||Jamar Smith||Shaun Pruitt||James Augustine||0||3:22|
|Dee Brown||Rich McBride||Brian Randle||Marcus Arnold||James Augustine||0||0:09|
|Dee Brown||Jamar Smith||Brian Randle||Warren Carter||Marcus Arnold||-1||1:50|
|Dee Brown||Chester Frazier||Rich McBride||Brian Randle||James Augustine||-2||3:42|
|Dee Brown||Rich McBride||Brian Randle||Warren Carter||Marcus Arnold||-2||0:46|
|Dee Brown||Chester Frazier||Jamar Smith||Brian Randle||James Augustine||-4||2:57|
|Dee Brown||Jamar Smith||Rich McBride||Warren Carter||Shaun Pruitt||-4||1:49|
|Dee Brown||Jamar Smith||Rich McBride||Brian Randle||Shaun Pruitt||-5||2:26|
Worst Lineup: Dee Brown, Jamar Smith, Rich McBride, Brian Randle, and Shaun Pruitt
- Illinois' best lineup has started to emerge during Big Ten play. The lineup of Dee, Jamar, Rich, Brian, and James gives the Illini something that not many teams can match up with, speed and athleticism across the board. Sure, Rich is not the most fleet of foot, nor the most athletic, but the rest of the Illini in this lineup are. As Jamar Smith has gotten more acclimated to playing in Big Ten games, this lineup has seen more and more time on the court together. Expect for this to continue, as Weber's reliance on and confidence in this group of players is growing as they continue to play well day in and day out.
- The substitution patterns in close games are showing me that Illinois is has settled in on a specific rotation, and really Weber only has complete faith in six of the Illini players. Off the bench, Weber will look to Marcus Arnold, Chester Frazier, and Warren Carter at times, but their leashes are short. Off the bench, only Jamar Smith is really given the leeway to make mistakes on the court, and still find time. Luckily for Weber, the ability to slide Brian Randle down to the power forward has covered up the lack of inside help coming off the bench as Weber has found out that he cannot count on production from either Carter or Arnold in close, hard fought Big Ten basketball games.
|Player 1||Player 2||Player 3||Differential||Time on Floor|
|Dee Brown||Jamar Smith||Rich McBride||21||18:37|
|Dee Brown||Chester Frazier||Rich McBride||0||5:18|
|Dee Brown||Rich McBride||-1||7:56|
|Dee Brown||Jamar Smith||-1||1:50|
|Dee Brown||Chester Frazier||Jamar Smith||-4||6:19|
Worst Guard Combination: Dee Brown, Chester Frazier, and Jamar Smith
|Player 1||Player 2||Player 3||Differential||Time on Floor|
|Brian Randle||James Augustine||19||18:46|
|Shaun Pruitt||James Augustine||5||5:37|
|Brian Randle||Shaun Pruitt||James Augustine||1||7:01|
|Brian Randle||Marcus Arnold||James Augustine||0||0:09|
|Brian Randle||Shaun Pruitt||-3||4:02|
|Brian Randle||Warren Carter||Marcus Arnold||-3||2:36|
|Warren Carter||Shaun Pruitt||-4||1:49|
Worst Forward Combination: Warren Carter & Shaun Pruitt
- As highlighted in the discussion of the overall lineups, the play coming off the bench on the interior is a cause for concern for Bruce Weber. The Illini do not have any reliable inside presence off the bench, and that will definitely become a big issue since it is not like Augustine or Randle are good at keeping themselves out of foul trouble on a routine basis.
Worst Player: Warren Carter (-7)
- As the conference season wears on, it becomes more and more obvious just how important James Augustine is to the overall success to the Illini. Yes, Dee Brown is probably the most important player on the team, but he plays all forty minutes of almost every game, so it is tough to ascertain how Illinois would play without him on the floor. Though, badly would probably be the correct answer.
- It is not a good sign when you look at the +/- statistics and you notice a trend like the one the Illini have, outside of Jamar Smith no one is coming off the bench and providing a spark for the Fighting Illini. Warren Carter and Marcus Arnold are just not coming into the game and doing much, and because of this Weber has used them less and less in times when he can get away with it (i.e. when James Augustine is not in foul trouble).