UI 84, Chaminade 61: Butler on tap

UI 84, Chaminade 61: Butler on tap

LAHAINA, Hawaii — Illinois’ week-long trip to Hawaii is getting better by the day.

The Illini got a season-high 14 points from Joseph Bertrand (six rebounds) and 13 from Brandon Paul (four assists, three rebounds) in Tuesday’s 84-61 win against Chaminade at Lahaina Civic Center.

The team’s third win since arriving on the islands sets up a championship game against Butler (9 p.m., ESPN), which surprised No. 9 North Carolina 82-71.

"Our guys have earned that right with the way that they played, with their effort," Illinois coach John Groce said. "Our execution, I think, continues to get better to make us a more complete team."

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Separated by 120 miles, Illinois and Butler haven’t met since 1971. They’ll pick up with two coaches linked to the Illinois opening last spring: one who took it (John Groce) and one who was rumored to show interest (Brad Stevens).

"It’s a great opportunity," Groce said. "Obviously, Butler’s really well-coached and really tough. They exhibit great toughness. They’re older, our guys are older, we’re looking forward to competing tomorrow and looking forward to the challenge."

Stevens and Groce worked together on Thad Matta’s staff at Butler in 2001.

"He and I are really good friends. I have a great deal of respect for Brad, not only as a coach but as a person. We usually talk even more about Xs and Os but we kind of decided this season until we got through this, if we didn’t play one another we’d talk a little bit more. Brad’s really bright and is a part of our coaching tree so I’m awful proud of what he’s been able to accomplish."

The Illini shot 45 percent (14 for 31) from the floor in the first half despite missing seven straight shots from the field during one stretch. Illinois made 40 percent (6 for 15) of its first-half three-point shots in building a 16-point halftime lead.


Groce said his team's 38 bench points were especially huge for a team playing three games in three days.

"What an asset that is to have as our team continues to develop and get a little bit better every day," he said.

D.J. Richardson (11 points) and Tyler Griffey (10) also scored in double figures for Illinois, which led by as many as 25 points in the second half in pulling away from the Division II program from Honolulu.

Chaminade’s De’Andre Haskins, who scored a career-high 32 points in Monday’s win against Texas, scored 19 points against the Illini. Bennie Murray added 10 points.

A game after committing eight turnovers, Illinois sophomore guard Tracy Abrams (eight points) was whistled for one turnover against the Silverswords.


Unlike a night earlier, Chaminade didn't pose much of a battle for Illinois, which came into the game having beaten USC in the tournament's first round. That could be because Illinois didn't view Chaminade as an inferior opponent — Groce had said Monday that Chaminade would be a tough challenge.

"It was kind of a different game for us playing against kind of a smaller team," Bertrand added.

Illinois, which shot 49 percent (29 for 59), hit 11 of 28 (39 percent) three-point attempts. Groce’s squad has made at least 11 three-pointers in all five games this season.


Chaminade missed 13 of its first 20 shots. Kevin Hu scored eight points after an electric 16-point performance against Texas.

"We just came across a very good team. They know how to play defense, too," Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. "We had a harder time than we ever had getting into the paint and creating."


Already up eight points nearly 15 minutes into the game, Illinois went on a 10-0 run to take a 37-19 lead with 1:23 remaining in the first half.

The teams traded baskets the first few minutes of the second half, but Illinois pulled away. The Illini took a 20-point lead on a 3-pointer from Paul with 8:13 left, and a 25-point lead in the last minute on a layup from reserve freshman Mike LaTulip.

Illinois advances to the title game for the first time since 2000, when it was also led by a first-year coach (Bill Self).

A win would do wonders for the Illini’s national standing when the next polls come out Monday.

Rotnei Clarke and Kellen Dunham each scored 17 points to lead the unranked Bulldogs. Like Illinois, Butler has been on a roll in the Aloha State since losing 62-47 at Xavier one week ago,

Fast starts have helped, Stevens said.


"You know that you have got to play attacking the rest of the game," he said.

Richardson 4-10 0-0 11, Paul 4-9 3-3 13, Abrams 4-12 0-0 8, Egwu 2-5 0-0 4, Griffey 3-6 3-5 10, McLaurin 3-3 0-0 6, Bertrand 5-7 2-2 14, LaTulip 1-2 2-2 5, Shaw 0-0 0-0 0, Henry 2-4 2-2 7, Langford 1-1 0-0 3, Djimde 0-0 0-0 0, Berardini 0-0 3-4 3. Totals 29-59 15-18 84.
Cooks 3-7 0-0 6, Bailey 3-6 0-0 9, Murray 4-11 0-2 10, Murphy 0-3 1-2 1, Haskins 7-16 3-3 19, Harrison 0-0 0-0 0, Peterson 0-0 0-0 0, Vukasovic 1-1 0-0 2, Green 1-5 0-0 3, Hu 3-7 2-5 8, Coulibaly 1-6 0-0 3. Totals 23-62 6-12 61.
Halftime—Illinois 37-21. 3-Point Goals—Illinois 11-28 (Richardson 3-9, Bertrand 2-4, Paul 2-5, Henry 1-1, Langford 1-1, Griffey 1-2, LaTulip 1-2, Abrams 0-4), Chaminade 9-28 (Bailey 3-4, Murray 2-5, Haskins 2-6, Green 1-3, Coulibaly 1-5, Hu 0-2, Murphy 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Illinois 41 (Henry 7), Chaminade 32 (Hu 6). Assists—Illinois 13 (Paul 4), Chaminade 12 (Bailey, Cooks 4). Total Fouls—Illinois 18, Chaminade 17. A—2,400.


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geriatricillini wrote on November 21, 2012 at 8:11 am


I really do like this team and while I am enjoying this Hawaii "Run" we 're on, it is WAY too early to be talking "national standing." Butler is a good team and it would be a worthy win, but they are not a ranked team at this point and are not even getting votes in either poll. We have played and beaten a decent USC team and it took a buzzer beater to get by an average Hawaii group, Chaminade is a fine Div. II school and our other wins are smaller schools. In my view we have won games we shoulda won and that's all really.

Now I do believe Coach Groce has pointed us in the right direction with the uptempo style and his utilization of our motivated seniors and our youth, but we must keep our enthusiasm under control and not let it cloud our vision of the long haul...league play, Missouri, Gonzaga and even Auburn (I admit...don't know that much about them though) are still looming out there. If we can say good things about ourselves after we grind through all of that, then we can talk about our national perception.

If we keep it up, we will do ok in the really tough B10. That's about all I can ask for now...if we get some good wins...like Butler...some notable wins in the B10 and maybe knock off Missouri in St. Louis or Gonzaga out there. good vibes will come our way, but right now we are in the "prove it" stage nationally. That should be motivation enough, but the guys have to "execute" that desire by winning a few games they are not supposed to win...like Butler tonight. We can do it, but it won't be a romp in the park...one at a time...Butler is the first step...let's see if we can walk before we run. ok? GO ILLINI!!


geriatricillini wrote on November 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

And by the way, Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Illini fans...we disagree on a lot of things, but we are all Americans so enjoy the original American holiday this week end...we can bicker once again later, but now...ENJOY!!!!! I think I smell pumpkin pie baking in the oven....

Moonpie wrote on November 21, 2012 at 10:11 am

Agree with geriatricillini on not being consumed by the polls--especially before the conference games. Sleepy Gazoo reporters tend to be cheerleaders. 

And agree on T-Day--enjoy!.

DaisyJ wrote on November 21, 2012 at 11:11 am

Good win, but I am afraid we have no inside offense. And, does anyone really think watching all the 3 balls shot ( these are set shots you know, set shot started in the 1920's) that this is exciting. If we stopped allowing three balls, think of all the moves fakes, fades, up and unders we would be watching. The game is not exciting and filled with all sorts of unskilled players. Twenty years ago, go watch the old NBA, or college and see what move I am talking about. The three ball has ruined the game immensly. Watch the 3 ball shot the players settle for, watch how they stand around the three line. Is this what you want to see.

aaeismacgychel wrote on November 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Good game for Illinois though certainly rough at times. The strong defensive effort again really made the difference in this game. I can't say I liked seeing two games in a row now where teams are taking the ball to the hole for an easy layup, but every jumpshot was contested during that first half and the help-support defense is there. The offense did not really get in all that much of a rhythm last night, which is intriguing because the Illini still put up 84 points, but when Brandon Paul was on the floor, the Illini really seemed calm, made good decisions, and had excellent spacing and off-the-ball movement. Brandon really had a quietly great game. If he keeps this play up all season, he'll lead Illinois to the tourney and be in the running for All-Conference. Very impressed by him this year but he has to remain consistent game to game as that has been what's really plagued him over the past few years.

Really nice game from Sam McLaurin showing off some very nice post moves. We haven't seen much of an inside game from the Illini, but he does have some decent moves and he has good position.

Joseph Bertrand had a real nice game as well. When he doesn't rush things, he has a very smooth stroke. Often though he knows he's made a basket or two and then rushes/forces a shot early in the shot clock which he tends to miss badly. I don't mind the aggessiveness, but in those cases, he'd be better off holding off a little and getting himself a higher quality shot a few seconds later. When playing within his game, he plays well.

DJ Richardson with another night making big shots and plays. He seems to be hitting rhythm threes where his feet and body aren't set and missing set threes, which is very odd for a three point shooter. It's almost as though he has too much time to think on set threes and that's why he clanks them. Something to keep an eye on.

Nnanna Egwu often isn't in the right position and sometimes moves himself too deep under the basket without realizing where on the court he's at, but he has a very nice midrange touch and is an intimidating shot blocker who has good recovery time. Because of these positional issues he tends to foul too much, but, that said, when he fouls, he fouls hard. I gave him credit for one tackle and one throwdown last night, but as I've said for a long time, if you're going to foul a shooter, make sure he has no chance of making the basket.

Tyler Griffey showed up today with a lot of effort and he was rewarded for it. He has to do this on a daily basis though- and not play like he did against Hawaii or a lot of last season where he watched the boards more than he attacked them and served only as a a warm body wallflower.

Mike LaTulip has a tremendous shot and some moxie. This walk-on is good and one hell of a marksman. I think he's going to get some regular playing time this season. If he can prove himself on defense, this kid can easily fill in for DJ Richardson on offense and give us a giant threat behind the arc that must be smothered thereby giving everyone else additional space.

Very good win last night. I don't think we match up well at all with Butler unfortunately as they crash the boards hard, have solid defense, and have tremendous 3 point shooters, so the only chance we have of winning is crashing the balls hard, play physical defense (as we have been) outside the arc and continue moving well off the ball. Very very tough test tonight, but if we can pull it off, what a start to the season! GO ILLINI!

Moonpie wrote on November 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Griffey seems rejuvenated and a different player. Begs the question: did he wake up or did Weber not know how to wake him up?

I wish them luck. These games and pace ought to help toughen them for the conference, which is no longer a Midwest conference, I'm sad to hear Delany say.

aaeismacgychel wrote on November 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I think Griffey is certainly rejuvinated and deeply wanted the change. That said, fundamentally, I don't know how much different he is. He had a really really lackluster game against Hawaii and that's putting it lightly. His problem has always been consistency (same as everyone else on the team except maybe Tracy Abrams). I think the difference is that under Weber, if Griffey showed that sort of ambivalence in a game that he did against hawaii, he wouldn't get much playing time at all the next few games. With Groce he was thrown back out there the very next few games and responded well. That seems to suit Griffey better than how Weber handled him. That said, I do see Griffey having a much better season than last year, but I also think there are going to be a few games that he does a complete disappearing act.

orangeandblueblood wrote on November 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I have seen comments about too many "3s" and no inside game the past couple of days.  But while watching the game, deep into the second half last night a stat was put up on points in the paint.  Illinois led that stat 30-12.  Also, I remember quite a few layups, reverse layups and ally ooops over the last couple of games.  It would seem to me that we are simply more "creative" and "take what you are given" this year.  Both of which make the games much more exciting and give opponents much more to prepare against.

Yukon Chuck wrote on November 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Hard to believe we are playing this well this year with the same players as last year.  Major improvement in shooting  from last year.  Everyone shoots better when you have a green light to shoot at any time.  I hope they improve on shot choices at the season progresses.   Some general observations: 1-We run some inbounds plays and I like them. 2- We go to the boards more and I like it. 3-Driving to the basket more and I like it.  4-better ball movement with a purpose and I like it.  5-Up tempo on both offense and defense and I like it.  6-I did not like our lack of passes inside to Egwu in the low post and inbounding ball on baseline vs. press ( too easy to double team us).  


Enjoy what we have going on now.   There will be a lot of bumps in the road ahead.