Illini hanging heads after letdown

Illini hanging heads after letdown

Read Paul Klee's in-game report here.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – As Penn State students rushed the floor late Tuesday night, the public address announcer asked them to reconsider.

"Fans, please stay off the court," he pleaded.

It was too little, too late, and you could say the same about Illinois. Another Penn State upset meant another celebration at Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State stumped No. 16 Illinois 57-55 before an announced crowd of 6,353, ending the Illini's three-game winning streak and continuing the Nittany Lions' recent success in the series.

And even when Talor Battle missed a shot, it paid off for Penn State. Battle drove the lane in the final seconds, missed a layup attempt, but Andrew Jones dunked in the game-winner with 0.7 second on the clock.

After a last-ditch inbounds pass didn't work for Illinois, Penn State students poured onto the court, just like they did after a 64-63 win against Illinois in 2009. Tuesday's result marked Penn State's second straight win against a ranked Illinois team.

The letdown prevented Illinois (13-4, 3-1 Big Ten) from starting 4-0 in conference play for just the fifth time in the past 24 seasons. It was the kind of letdown this group has suffered in the past.

"You've got to come to play every day," Bruce Weber said. "It's my job to get them there, but at the same time, sometimes, it's got to come from within. Every game has to be a championship game."

Off all the opponents that might have the secret formula to solving Illinois, you wouldn't figure it would be Penn State. But the Illinois seniors dropped to 3-5 against Penn State (10-6, 3-2), a record that stumped the veterans.

"I think (it's because) we've played them so much," said senior Mike Tisdale (16 points, career-high 14 rebounds). "They've got four seniors, we've got four seniors."

"They've had our number the last couple of years," senior Bill Cole added. "They're always tough to beat."

Illinois' problems began long before Jones scored the game winner. The Illini fell behind 11-2, 16-8 and 25-13 in the first half. Illinois seemed to play in a daze, while Penn State outhustled the visitors from the opening tip and won the first-half Matto battle.

"They beat us in the first five minutes of the game," Tisdale said.

"They got all the 50-50 balls," Weber said.

Illinois and Penn State are accustomed to close calls. Four of their previous six meetings were decided by one point.

And Battle is accustomed to giving Illinois fits. The senior – yes, he's finally a senior – had a game-high 26 points. He launched one of his three-pointers with his feet on the midcourt insignia. He added another step-back three-pointer over the long arms of 6-foot-9 Mike Davis.

About the only thing he didn't do was witness the game-winner. Battle said his view was obstructed when Jones scored the winning putback.

"It just sunk right in," Battle said. "Thank the Lord."

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kzimmer001 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 12:01 am

Penn State had only one player on the floor, Talor Battle who could beat the Illini, and sadly, there was no double team, no trap, no deny defense, just DJ out on an island.

No game is won or lost on a single play, but this was so predictable and pitiful that I had to comment on it.

peterborich wrote on January 12, 2011 at 12:01 am

After a four game absence, the Lazies are back! Got worried that the Lazies were gone forever after the UIC debacle (that's the 5-12 UIC Flames). Never fear, the Lazies will be here until their loss in the first or second round of the NIT. Plenty of time left for Demetri to show off more of his " two-handed behind the head passes to no one in a critical juncture of the 2nd half" and Mike Davis perform his 40-minute disappearing act.

JCIllini1988 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 1:01 am

I will not miss Talor Battle. Penn State has only one good player and that one player beat the Illini. If the Illini could have figured out someway to stop him they would have won. I also want to throw out those threes pretty much from half court were ridiculous. That is pure luck, nothing else. Penn State won this one on luck, they're lucky Battle scored nearly 50% of their points, lucky Andrew Jones was there with a second left to slam down a terrible Battle shot, lucky Battle's desperation threes with the clock running out went in, it was all luck. Did the Illini play bad? Yes, but I think the better team clearly lost. Can't wait for these sad bunch of goons to come to Assembly Hall. I look forward to watching Illinois get their revenge by doing to Penn State what they did to Northwestern.

cnichols401 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 2:01 am

Give weber an extension!

jwhuber wrote on January 12, 2011 at 2:01 am

You have got to be kidding me! How many times do we have to lose, (or almost lose) to this team to figure them out? Or maybe the better question is figure us out? My favorite quote after the game from Weber was, "I just knew it was going to be close," Illini coach Bruce Weber said. "Theme of the week was for us to find a way to win." Really? Knew it was going to be close? With as much talent we have it shouldn't be close at all. Maybe Weber knows how lazy this group can be and has given up on trying to make these guys do the fundamentals, in which case whose to blame, the players or Weber? Good or even good teams don't lose to teams like PSU. It doesn't happen. That is why they will get rolled by 20+ against OSU in a few days. We have no killer instinct. When the games on the line in the last two minutes we've got no one to go and get the ball, plain and simple. Nobody that will box out like your taught in 5th grade and say this is my ball, and grab the thing like your trying to squeeze the air out of it. I CANNOT wait until these clowns have graduated. Most of them do nothing but disappoint, most especially when their favored or heavily favored. Get some guys in here that have some desire. I'll even take less athletic ability for some heart, God knows we need it.

TotalIlliniFan wrote on January 12, 2011 at 5:01 am

You could see this type of game coming from the Illini within the first few minutes, and we've seen this game and outcome many, many times and yet Weber still gets a hall pass and a huge paycheck.

jimbo2009 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 5:01 am

So why is it Weber keeps getting a pass? Zookmeister loses games to lesser teams and everyone is all over him. But Weber, for some reason just keeps underperforming and no one gets on his case to the same extent.

illini4 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 6:01 am

The theme of the week was "find a way to win" - the sports media's favorite cliche? That's the best our head coach can come up with?

jlanman wrote on January 12, 2011 at 7:01 am

I thought after watching the Northwestern game that we had figured out how to attack a zone, we got a lot of easy shots inside which set up some very good looks from the outside. Last night was totally different, very little penetration and not enough attempts to get inside. Someone teach Weber how to attack a zone. We're going to see it the rest of the year. Why should this be a surprise, because almost everyone played zone against us last year and we still have no clue as to how to attack a zone. Congradulations to Mike Tisdale on a great game and effort. Team didn't even look like it was thinking about basketball for the first ten minutes of the game.

Lanphier wrote on January 12, 2011 at 7:01 am

New Theme ....Find A New Coach!!!!!!!

This was already rediculous now its just pitiful,when is this gu gonna wake up and figure out that he is just an assistant coach?Why game after game are the same players making the same mistake and still getting the same amount of playing time? When Weber says well we just could pull it out down the strech pisses me off so bad because alot of these games should have been put away at half time .What top recruit is gonna want to go there when they see the talent Illinois has but this is all Weber can get out of them...At best they will wind up w/ a 20-10 overall and a 1t round NCAA or NIT loss

ArreliousBennHidin wrote on January 12, 2011 at 7:01 am

Did anyone else hear the Penn St fan who was yelling at Weber the whole game? It was awesome. The crowd was so small you could really hear the mics picking up a lot of the noise that's usually drowned out by the crowd. At one point the Penn St fan said "WEBER, WEBER, NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOU YELL!!!" LMAO!!!

jules61 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 7:01 am

I like Bruce Weber. Of course, that is not all there is to say. No team is going to be a push over this year. So the team just better plan on giving 100% all the time, for every game. Just plan on everyone wanting the win worse than you do. I remember the Johnson brothers scrapping for every ball. Have not seen that consistently for a while and the rebounding with few exceptions, was non existent. why is that? we have a talented team. No one is going to roll over for anyone so make up your mind that you have to give all you have just to pull out a win.

CLBlood wrote on January 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

Maybe Penn State will be ranked. They seem to have improved. 14 more games to go before the post-season. Nice game Tisdale. McCamey is having a tough night when turnovers=assists. 90 days till Battle returns to his home planet. Never take a Big 10 road win for granted. Abrams, Langford, Henry, Egwu & Shaw will be here in what, 5 months?

Adub wrote on January 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

I thought the Penn State fans were annoying not funny. As a player that kind of stuff would have fired me up. We got our rebounded, turned the ball over more. Glad to see Tis have a good game! LIFE ON THE ROAD IN THE BIG 10!!

PeoriaIllini wrote on January 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

Meh, it's college basketball, the season isn't ruined by starting 3-1 in the Big Ten.

I like seeing all you 'true' Illiniois fans on here complaining after a loss, but silent after a win, shows real character on your part.

ElDuderino wrote on January 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

So if we don't win every single game, fans want to give up and fire Weber? Really? Yeah, they stunk it up last night, but it happens. Geez. Nothing more insightful or constructive to say than "fire Weber?" Give me a break

PaxtonIllini wrote on January 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

Wow, all of these "Fire Weber" folks because we lost at Penn State. Are your Michigan State brethren yelling "Fire Izzo?" Same happened to them on Saturday. It's tough to win anywhere on the road in the Big Eleven and bad games happen. If your PG struggles, especially one that is as significant to the team as McCamey, you are probably going to lose.

rappelrappel wrote on January 12, 2011 at 9:01 am

I couldn't agree more with most of the recent commenters. Thanks for showing up, Weber and senior haters. Here is the magic recipe i hear after every loss:

1. Fire Weber

2. Play the Freshman More / Goodbye Seniors

3. Play Zone

4. Ditch the Motion Offense

All I can say is that I like the Freshman but they are not Jared Sullinger. The Freshman got plenty of playing time in this game (and most of the season in my opinion) and were bad. How many more terrible shots did you want from Jereme? How many more offensive rebounds did you want Meyers to give up? This is a good team, not a great team principally because of sub-par recruiting in the past. They have one major senior talent and the rest of the seniors generally play at or above their talent level. The Junior class doesn't exist. Weber isn't perfect, but the recruiting machine is now working and he deserves a chance to coach those guys in the next 3 or 4 years. Lon Kreuger and Bill Self never made it to the Final Four as Illini, so get some perspective.

WhoSays wrote on January 12, 2011 at 10:01 am

I think everyone is at fault here.

Weber shouldn't get fired mid year, but should shoulder some of the blame. These guys aren't self motivators. He should bench every starter the next home game and see how they like coming off the bench. Maybe that will get them cranked up a little bit.

Something has to change. This formula of having to shoot 60% or higher to win makes us a 500 program.

Rebounding, Scoring on inbounds plays, attacking the hoop, setting a screen, making free throws late and defense make you a great program. Name how many of those we do well?

jjohnson wrote on January 12, 2011 at 11:01 am

It is amazing to me how some of these comment-makers survived before the Internet; must have beaten their dogs or their kids.

ehorton wrote on January 12, 2011 at 11:01 am

for: rappel,paxton,dude,peoria,clblood,& jules.

you make too much sense. what are you doing on this site? it is for the "experts". not one of you asked for 1. firing 2. benching or 3. kill'em.

this is a site for unrealistic anonymous crybabies and whiners. don't you know that the illini should win every game or are completely hopeless?

and for marcus: a 2 point loss at psu does not rate a D.

ed horton

JCIllini1988 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 11:01 am

For everyone saying the Freshmen should start over the Seniors; do you all remember the last ten minute of the NW game when Weber took out his starters and had Paul running point with all of the Freshmen? We committed a lot of turnovers, our offense was stagnant and the defense was not great. The Freshmen aren't starting because they are not ready. You could say Weber should give them more playing time, but in clutch situations you want experienced players, who are least likely to make a mistake. Jereme Richmond and Leonard are athletic and in a year or two I imagine their game will be at the pro-level, but they aren't there yet. Our Freshmen have some work, we have seen flashes of their athleticism. Needless to say I feel good about the Illini's future. Weber has gotten it done on the recruiting end and I know he can get talented players to play at their best. We saw it in his first three to four years, we saw him turn an average team when Frazier was a Senior into a NCAA tourney team and he has McCamey playing some of his best ball right now. Point is Weber knows how to coach, one game doesn't make a season. It's tough to win on the road in the Big Ten, especially this year. Michigan State lost to Penn State, I imagine other good teams will as well.

bballfan13 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

The day the seniors on this illini team are gone will not come soon enough! four years of bad basketball is enough isnt it a shame that Lon K and Bill S belt us into a top ten program and now where are we?

jonezjayson wrote on January 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm

"Weber isn't perfect, but the recruiting machine is now working and he deserves a chance to coach those guys in the next 3 or 4 years."

This is a verbatim chorus I heard three years back on this site. How much more on the job training does this guy need at $1.5 million a year?

kzimmer001 wrote on January 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I have been a huge supporter of Coach Weber, and I am not a fan of firing anyone for many reasons. One game does not make or break anything for me -- Illinois could easily come back and win vs Wisc and/or MSU and I would not be surprised. (I WOULD be surprised if Illinois beats Ohio State)

Still, at some point, you have to look at the body of work. A great start, a magical season, but now zero NCAA wins in 5 years, and another inconsistent team headed toward a 6 to 8 seed, and I have to ask, is this really the best the University of Illinois can do?

Wenalwaste wrote on January 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Ed, you haven't made too much sense on this board. stick to the issues ...... what were you proudest of in the loss to psu? jjohnson and peoria can u helphim out?

ehorton wrote on January 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm

whineaway,

there in fact were some positives in the game. 1. we held them to 57 points. 2. tisdale had a terrific game. 3. brandon paul showed some positive signs. we had too many bad turnovers to win a tight game.

my problem with people like you and totalillinifan is that you don't discuss issues. ex. strategy, officiating, etc. you guys only are able to see negatives, never the positives. you reissue your fire'em, bench'em comments ad auseum.

but you are not willing to put your names out there when you call for people's jobs. put your name on it. bask in your glory.

ed horton

illinihimeyiswhiney wrote on January 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Bahahaha see Wenal other people DO think YOUR the idiot!

CecilColeman wrote on January 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Once again weber's team is not prepared to start a game. How many times (whether at home or away or at the United Center or even in an NCAA game) have we seen this in the past 5 or 6 years?

Bruce, you and your staff have some soul searching to do. Maybe start the time with full court pressure just to get the motors going.

cevans wrote on January 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm

One thing I didnt get at the end of the game when there was 1 sec. left and we have McCamey passing the ball in?????????? What in the world was Weber thinking......Your best player passing the ball in why not have one of the 7ft bean poles pass the ball in, IDK I know it dont really matter bc there was 1sec on the clock and it would have been tough to get a clean shot off and a make but still I just think that call didnt give Illini a chance to win. People might disagree with me on it but thats just what I thought and it kind of made me question Webers play calling there. Go Illini

illinihimeyiswhiney wrote on January 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Wenal..... You're a silly little girl. I love when you pretend you're the omnipotent god of basketball and all things Illini. It's cute! :D

jules61 wrote on January 13, 2011 at 1:01 am

Can't we all just get along?? ha ha. Listen, either you like Illinois basketball, or you don't. Either you are critical and looking for a bone to pick, or you use constructive criticism. A difference in personality. If you want a team that will win 98% of the time, cheer for predictable Duke. Snooze. I look at it like my euchre game: I may not win all of the time but I still like and enjoy the game. And I do like Bruce. He has integrity. He got Deron Williams and the others to buy into his program and look where it took them. He is not a mindless dummy. He has been a good coach. But he is not Jesus and will not be perfect. Just enjoy the games.

TotalIlliniFan wrote on January 13, 2011 at 5:01 am

Not a newsflash but helpful confirmation of the sentiment in most of these posts: "Coaches recruit and coach players, so they should be held mostly responsible for losses like Tuesday." Klee

kzimmer001 wrote on January 13, 2011 at 7:01 am

One more sobering thought before we return our full attention to the NFL playoffs...

The 2010-11 Illini is likely to be better than the 2011-12 Illini. Next season, there will be no DMac, and due to the extensive playing time of the other seniors, BPaul, DJ, and JRich will be the only returning players who have much game experience. That means 2 new starters and your entire bench rotation will be struggling to learn this coaching staff's system for most of the season.

illinihimeyiswhiney wrote on January 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Wenal Wenal Wenal!!!!

Good news I found out what an Offensive Rebound is.....

Were you able to pick out the basketball and football out of the picture lineup I sent to "the home" for you of.....

1. A map of the United States

2. A picture of dog poop

3. *hint* the basketball

4. Ron Zook

5. Bruce Weber

6. The hamburgler (I knew that one would give you trouble)

7. A squirrel

8. *hint* the football

9. A banana

10. A Beetle, no not an insect. John Lennon

Last I heard from the nurse you were picking boogers and wiping it all over the picture of John Lennon.... Next time I'll pick a Rolling Stone! No, not a moving boulder. A Rolling Stone like Brian Jones. What do you have against John anyways?

LTL509 wrote on January 14, 2011 at 1:01 am

Fire Weber is right. We year in and out lose 2-4 games a quality team does not lose. If we want to be elite then we have to not only win these type of games, but do so by 5-10 points. At the end of the day we are an over hyped Penn State squad with Bruce at the helm. Guarantee we drop another one of these BS games on the road to Nwestern, Michigan, Indiana, or someone else we have no business losing to.

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