The Illini basketball team needed a breather.
No.....not in the sense of facing a weaker opponent. .....but in the sense of catching its breath after a string of 6 games in 12 days in November.
Flying to and from the Hawaiian Islands . Winning a dramatic game in Honolulu. Coming back with a Maui Invitational trophy. Holding off a determined Gardner Webb team at the wire. Going toe to toe and then pulling away from Ga Tech.
Not that they took the last few days off. John Groce and his staff put the team through some intense workouts during the days between the Ga. Tech game last Wednesday....and the Western Carolina game tonight. They spent a lot of time tweaking things defensively....and working on rebounding a little better.
The Illini certainly cant be shooting 3-pointers any better than they are now. The Illini drilled 14 three-pointers in the win over the Yellow Jackets...the most since 2005. They lead the nation in three-pointers made with (90) and (11.3) made per game. Last year the Illini averaged just under (6) three pointers per game. Tyler Griffey is hitting long-range bombs at a 57% clip. Brandon Paul has improved his 3-point shooting percentage from 33% a year ago to 42% this year.
Another interesting stat: The Illini have 5 guys averaging 4 or more rebounds per game....with D.J Richardson leading the way with nearly 5 rebounds per game.
The Illini face another team with "Bulldogs" as its nickname (Gonzaga) late Saturday night in Spokane, Washington. . It will be a matchup between 2 Top 15 teams. But first they need to take care of an experienced bunch of Catamounts from Western Carolina.
Talk to you tonight from the Hall.