Klee: Illini are toast on New Year's Eve

Klee: Illini are toast on New Year's Eve

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — If Purdue star Robbie Hummel was beating Illinois all by himself, perhaps that would be understandable.

He's an All-Big Ten type. The same would be true if it were JaJuan Johnson or E'Twaun Moore getting busy on the Illini. Those studs are clearing NBA paychecks.

But it wasn't the usual suspects leading Purdue to a 75-60 beatdown of Illinois in front of 14,041 at Mackey Arena on Saturday. It was the other guys, the guys that Rivals and Scout forgot, who are becoming players while the Illini's former high school stars find their way.

"These guys, it seems like they always play well against us," UI junior D.J. Richardson said afterward.

So much for recruiting rankings, huh?

Purdue's sixth straight win against Illinois was the latest example of how pre-college hype means nothing if the results don't follow.

Illini fans continue to wait for that one shining moment when the stars next to their names — Wasn't he a four-star recruit? — translate into consistent stars on the court. Illinois (12-3, 1-1 Big Ten) is winning the July battles; January and February are proving to be another matter.

Hummel was held to five points, a pedestrian performance. But the Purdue bench — with underclassmen like Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson and Travis Carroll — outscored the Illinois bench 36-13. It was the third straight game Purdue's reserves hit for 36. It was the eighth time in nine games the Illini reserves have been outscored.

Meanwhile, the Illini's future pro, Meyers Leonard, was awarded just four shot attempts. He figured to be a mismatch for Purdue's shaky frontcourt but proved to be a non-factor.

"We missed him three or four times on ball screens where he was at the hoop and people didn't make the right reads," Weber said.

Thing is, winning at Purdue (12-3, 2-0), in front of a rambunctious crowd that stuck around for an hour to get Hummel's autograph, didn't figure to be easy. The Boilers have won 26 straight at Mackey. But it was the first time this season the Illini weren't competitive against players that shouldn't be better than their own.

"They compete and play hard. Matt (Painter) gets them to do that all the time," Weber said of their struggles against Purdue. "They seem to have guys that step up and make plays that normally don't."

Purdue ripped off runs of 18-0 and 36-7 to throw a wet towel on any New Year's celebrations the Illini had in store.

"The first five minutes of the second half have been one of our weaknesses since I've been at the U of I," said Richardson, who had 15 points.

"They kind of just took it to us," added Brandon Paul, who led all scorers with 17.

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illiniart wrote on January 01, 2012 at 12:01 am

Face it.  As long as Bruce Weber is here, we will be mediocre at best. 

I wonder if you guys will keep writing that Leonard is a lottery pick when he rarely shows up against even guys that are smaller than he is.

Being an Illini fan is tough duty lately.

At least the football team won today. 

Salt Life wrote on January 01, 2012 at 9:01 am
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I think maybe Bruce Weber is still confused about the contract he signed with Purdue back when he was a coach for 18 years there. The part about remaining loyal to Purdue, Weber must have thought it was a lifetime thing as his 6 straight losses to Purdue almost look like he might be throwing the game or secretly still is a huge Purdue fan and showing allegiance to the Boilermakers. The only other rational explanation is that Bruce is simply not as good of a coach as Matt Painter. That much should be obvious to all by now. Facing a Purdue team that has lost it's stars and having an Illinois roster now comprised of 3 top 15 recruiting classes, easily eclipsing Purdue's roster for overall talent, Bruce's team still gets taken to the woodshed by Painter's and soundly flogged. They both play largely the same offense but Purdue under Painter's coaching runs it like it should be run. Plus Painter motivates and teaches his players to play much better defense, much smarter defense.

Painter > Weber

pblillini wrote on January 01, 2012 at 12:01 am

The recruiting rankings aren't the problem.  It's the "coaching" that these recruits are getting once they get to UI that is.  And it's also the fact that Weber can't assemble a roster with balance and pieces that complements each other.  We have 18 wings, no PG, and no true PF.  And on top of that, the players we do have don't fit Weber's systems at all. 

It's time to cut bait.  Bruce has had 6 years with his own guys and can't get the job done.  There is no excitement or "buzz" around the program. 

Klee needs to call a spade a spade and start talking about the fire that is starting to scorch the seat of Weber's pants.

sutton99 wrote on January 01, 2012 at 8:01 am

How much longer do Illinois fans have to put up with mediocre seasons? It is past time to fire Bruce Weber!!!!! If the Uof I is going to rennovate the Assembly Hall, they will want a great team and you won't have a great team with Bruce Weber coaching them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

787 wrote on January 01, 2012 at 9:01 am

Is Bruce Weber tired of getting his *** kicked by Purdue yet?  Apparently not.

I know the fans are tired of it.  And his continual standing on the sidelines, screaming like a lunatic is starting to wear a little thin as well.

Coach... how many years have you been here?  It is time to start delivering some consistent wins... or do the honorable thing and LEAVE.

GOOB wrote on January 01, 2012 at 9:01 am

I really wanted to see Bruce succeed here, but I've seen enough. These guys are lost and have tuned out the excessive and unnecessary screaming from the sidelines. Everyone from the coaches to the players look under pressure and are uptight. No one looks like they are having any fun, and that certainly includes the fan base.

Mike Thomas, I am sorry that Guenther straddled you with these bad contracts, but please do Illini Nation a favor and find a way for Bruce to exit gracefully.

I wish Bruce the best, but give Brad Stevens this roster next year. A starving fan base awaits!

floridaturbo wrote on January 01, 2012 at 10:01 am

Ron Zook and Bruce Weber are obviously good people, and I've been pulling for them for years to translate that into at least a minimally acceptable won / loss record.  Zook's mediocrity against teams he should have easily beaten in the Big Ten finally caught up with him.  Hopefully it will with Weber, too.  Too many new coaches come into the Big Ten and build consistent winners while we get the same disappointment year in and year out from Weber.  Getting thumped 6 times in a row by Matt Painter, Weber's sucessor at SIU before Purdue hired him, was the last straw.  Struggling to a double overtime win at home against Minnesota in the Big Ten opener was a close second.  Having to watch Indiana kill giants under Tom Crean, being dominated regularly by Wisconsin and getting humiliated by Ohio State and now Missouri, is getting very old.  If I recall, we could have hired Thad Motta instead of Weber.  Nice call there.  Maybe Meyers Leonard will stay around and do a Joakim Noah.  Don't hold your breath.  This team is going to have to do a massive turnaround if it expects to get an NCAA bid.  

LTL509 wrote on January 02, 2012 at 3:01 pm

3 Words Peeps