Ask Brian Barnhart about Saturday's showdown against Ohio State, Thad Matta's relationship with John Groce and his trip to Mackey Arena. The Voice of Illinois basketball chats at 11 a.m. Thursday but submit questions any time.
Good Morning. Short night last night with the late start at Purdue...and the trip home afterwards.
Tough loss for the Illini. Hopefully they can bounce back on Saturday against Ohio State.
Good Morning Brian,
I really thought Illinois was going to win last night at Purdue. I know we have some issues that need to be fixed once we get deeper into the Big Ten season if we are going to compete, but I really like this teams fight and will to never give up, something I didn't see last year with this team. With that being said, I really think Illinois will win Saturday against Ohio St. I know from what I have been reading and people talking doesn't give Illinois a chance to win, however with the Illini playing at home the Groce and Matta connection I really think the team is going to be up for this game and we go 1-1 in the Big Ten. What are your thoughts of last night's game and the upcoming game on Saturday against Ohio St., I really enjoy your insight!
Thanks for the question!
The losses that bother me the most are the ones where i feel going in that Illinois has a chance to "steal one"...... like last night. The Illini have been out-toughed by the Boilermakers each of the last 8 games now (all Purdue wins) at key moments of those games. When the Boilers had JuJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummell and Etwaun Moore....I could understand why. Those players were tough AND athletic. The current Purdue squad still has the Matt Painter trademark of being tough physically and mentally. They dont have quite the same athleticism...and they are very young. Throw in the fact that there were 5,000 empty bleacher seats at Mackey....the student section was barely present and that is why I felt good about the Illini chances to win last evening.
That is why i really felt like the Illini had a chance to get a valuable Big Ten road win last night and they missed the opportunity.
That doesnt mean the season is lost...or that they cant steal another road win somewhere else.... or run the table at home. Just that they had a fastball down the middle to hit...and they missed it.
This season....they really do have to take one game at a time. They have a good shot at home against the Buckeyes on Saturday. Hopefully they can make the most of the opportunity this time.
Why do I feel Illinois might fall apart again like last year? Please calm my nerves?
I dont think you will see a repeat of last season. That was almost a "perfect storm"...in a negative sense at the end of the year.
I do think the rebounding weakness needs to be shored up as we go along this season....and that the outside shooting needs to be there more often than not to give the Illini a chance to win each night. They also need to continue attacking the basket....because Big Ten teams are not going to just let them shoot wide-open 3 point shots.
No need to panic. It was a missed opportunity last night....no question. But it was just one step on the journey and I think the team will respond well to the challenge from John Groce as they get ready to battle the Buckeyes on Saturday afternoon.
Enjoy your work on the radio. Read on HQ that Groce wanted to skip the trip to the Beefhouse because he was superstitious. Guess he was right in the end. What was the coach like after the game???
Thanks for you kind comments on the radio broadcasts!
Most coaches I know are somewhat superstitious. I am guessing that since the Illini lost the game at Purdue...they may change their dinner plans in the future. I hope not...because the Beef House is a really great place to eat....and they really do a wonderful job of serving the Illini team it's meal when they come there.
I know that Bruce Weber was very close with the Beef House owner Bob Wright...due to his 19 years in West Lafayette as an assistant to Gene Keady. John Groce may not feel that same close connection. We shall see.
After the loss...Coach Groce was not happy. But that is very understandable.
Ok...that appears to be all for today. Talk to you Saturday from the Assembly Hall! Remember what happened the last time the Illini played the Buckeyes in Champaign? Hint: Brandon Paul was pretty good.