Tate: Threes could put Illini in deep trouble

Tate: Threes could put Illini in deep trouble

Live by the bomb, and die by the bomb.

So far, John Groce’s newly-ranked Illini (No. 22) are living large by unleashing long-range bombs, UI seniors hauling two apparent losses out of the grave with last-ditch strikes. D.J. Richardson nipped Hawaii 78-77 at :00 in overtime, and Tyler Griffey rejected Gardner-Webb 63-62 at :04.

Is this a dependable strategy? No, there will be days like Sunday when it won’t be pretty. But look at it this way: Groce’s free-firing approach will win games that might otherwise slip away, and it’s a lot more fun this way.

This early sample is too small, but let’s make a comparison with last season anyway. Rounding the numbers, Bruce Weber’s last UI team averaged 54 shot attempts, of which 19 were treys. In seven games this season — and let’s concede the Big Ten will present stiffer defenses — the current Illini are taking more overall shots 60 to 54, attempting more treys 27 to 19, shooting better from the arc 40.6 to 30.4 percent, making more treys, 11 to 6, and producing more points, 80.1 to 65.6. That’s nearly 15 points per game based on five more treys.

If you have a strong post game — if Meyers Leonard was still around — it would pay to go inside. If you depend on jump shots, it doesn’t make sense to shoot 18-footers. Just take a step back to the arc where 40 percent accuracy is the equivalent to 60 percent from inside the arc. Very often, these are less challenged, as was the case with both Richardson and Griffey on their game-winners.

Zoned out
Sunday’s Gardner-Webb game served as a grim reminder that old habits aren’t easily broken, that all scores won’t be in the 80s, and a zone defense can sometimes make energetic scorers appear tired.

Faulty UI ballhandling, an ongoing concern, led to 18 turnovers. The Bulldogs pressured Tracy Abrams into mistakes and used a perplexing zone that prevented Paul and others from driving. The Illini committed eight turnovers in the first eight minutes, and the trio of Abrams, Griffey and Brandon Paul went 0 for 9 in the first half. The smaller G-W team hurt Illinois on the boards, although the numbers wound up even.

Point is, as with the Hawaii game when they trailed by 16, the Illini had to overcome their own deficiencies. In this case, they trailed 45-40 and barely avoided embarrassment when G-W’s senior sub, Tashan Newsome, overshot a three-pointer and it banked in at :14.     

Lest it be overlooked, Joseph Bertrand made large and extended contributions in Abrams’ absence.

Said Groce: “I believe in Tracy. He’s tough. He’ll respond.

“Bertrand was our best player today. If not for him coming off the bench, it could have been ugly early.”

It’ll be a Challenge
With Illinois bringing to six the number of Big Ten teams in the AP Top 25 — the ACC has three — the time has come for the nation’s top conference to prove itself.

The home courts are equally divided, but the Big Ten hosts some of the biggest games in the Challenge: No. 14 North Carolina at No. 1 Indiana, No. 18 North Carolina State at No. 3 Michigan, both tonight, and the Illini-Georgia Tech match here Wednesday.

Duke is playing better than anyone in the country, having served the only losses to Kentucky (4-1), Minnesota (6-1) and Louisville (5-1). And the Blue Devils have the homecourt advantage Wednesday on No. 4 Ohio State.

Switching to football
If changes are coming to the Illini coaching staff, here’s a thought. With more than a dozen Division I schools ousting head coaches, that throws more than 100 assistants into the job market. It’s a dog-eat-dog business. And nobody seems to care about the cost.

In dumping Gene Chizik two years after he led Auburn to the national title, the school agrees to pay him more than $200,000 per month for three years. This doesn’t include what’s owed to his staff. This is madness gone crazy. But that’s the SEC.

The search for Superman also finds Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas in the hunt, with Cincinnati’s Butch Jones reportedly among those interested. And they’re already talking as though Mizzou’s once-solid coach, Gary Pinkel, is on shaky ground if he doesn’t do better than 2-6 in the league.

Elsewhere Colorado, contending with Illinois for the dishonor of being the nation’s most underachieving program, is looking again, as are California, North Carolina State and Boston College. And you can add Purdue to the list. Danny Hope won his last three games, but Boilermaker leaders must have decided to fire him a month ago when the Boilermakers lost five straight.

All have their reasons, but this much I know: Superman isn’t real, and there aren’t enough Urban Meyers and Kevin Sumlins to go around. And while we’re at it, who’ll step up and give Bobby Petrino a second chance ... you know, like Washington State (3-9) did with Mike Leach?

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.

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rlouizjr wrote on November 27, 2012 at 9:11 am
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Its nice to see the guys who signed within 24 hrs kinda play to the potential us Illini fans thought they would be....I myself thought this could rival the deron Dee and luther trio in production.And with a less stagnant offense im so glad that tyker griffey is shooting freely and less worried about mistakes...He looks like the High schooler he was.This group seemingly can play to their potential we will be contenders.I love BW but its obvious these guys were made to be free shooters.....

Moonpie wrote on November 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

Can't disagree with Oracle Tate on Illini as a work still in progress.

But why does he toss the SEC under the bus because Auburn has a coach payout? So does Illinois.

jdstieg wrote on November 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

What?  Cowpie not disagreeing with Loren Tate?   Is that possible?  I am afraid the world is going to end.

JohnUI82 wrote on November 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Because as we all know thanks to your always insightful comments, Tate always tosses someone under the bus. Maybe it's in his DNA, like repetitiveness is in yours.

illinihimeyiswhiney wrote on November 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm


Thank Moonpie! I was afraid that Tate was implying, quite rightfully, that the SEC is the type of place that gets rid of a coach for under performance even after he took them to a national title game. Suggesting that the SEC is the kind of place where what you do in a season is what you get evaluated on regardless of recent success like a national title and a losing season in the SEC is the type of thing that will get you kicked out just 2 short years after brining back a crystal football.

Thankfully the great God of mere gods moonpie has interpreted it in a manner that is completely stupid so that the rest of us can take his word and continue to live in the ignorance he promotes while shouting down anyone else. 

This must be the type of subliminal messaging moonpie tells us causes the basketball team to play bad when reading "Sleepy Gazoo" articles!!!!!


The truth is exposed. Tate is exposed. We are all exposed and Moonpie wanks on because of it. 

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Look, if you think the players today that can shoot a three ball are somehow talented, then you do not understand basketball. The three point shot has dumbed down basketball immensly.  It is nothing more that a set shot. Very little skill, repeat, very little skill.

IlliniMike05 wrote on November 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I think people who make asinine blanket statements like the one you just made are the ones who don't understand most things. Or who start their sentences with "Look," like they're about to impart some previously unheard wisdom onto everyone.

It is more than a set shot. It's a jump shot. That's worth an additional point. And last I checked, shooting- whether it's a three, a free throw, or a layup- is the most fundamental skill in basketball.

It's a different style of play than there was 30 years ago. Sports evolve. Get over it. It hasn't dumbed anything down. It's not like offensive basketball previously required a MENSA membership. It's opened the floor up for more dribble drives and made the defense guard every inch of the halfcourt. In terms of the NBA, teams have realized the most efficient shot in basketball is the corner 3. Realizing what works best and tailoring your offense to utilize it isn't dumbing down the sport.


DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Go back and watch some ball before the three line came into play. You saw fakes, pump fakes, up and under, pivot moves, hesitation moves. You do not understand what real players can do. Next thing you know, you will think the dunk shot is some spectactular feat. It takes very little skill to stuff a ball through a hoop. However, a soft finger roll like Wilt had, or jump hook by Kareem or Russel takes much more skill. Even being chased down on a layup having to lay the ball up on the glass is much harder than forcing the ball through a cylinder.


Look, look, look, it is nothing more than a set shot, watch players do not even cut to the basket anymore, hugging the three line like a kid with his shoes stuck in the mud, hands out just standing there waiting for what, a long a$$ shot that most cannot hit 25% of the time. Look, wake up, you cannot be more than age 30 as you do not know any better or you would understand.


Look, oh, the style is different, but not better. LOOK LOOK LOOK


IlliniMike05 wrote on November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

You still see all of those things. Every single college basketball game played this year will feature those things.

Do you know why you don't see as much skilled post play? Because teams are way better at defending the rim now than they were 30 years ago. There are other reasons, but that's the main one. Teams at every level are so much better defensively now than ever before. This isn't debatable, either.  

By the way, "a long a$$ shot that most cannot hit 25% of the time?" Where are you getting those numbers from? Nearly half the teams in college basketball made at least 35 percent of their threes last year. Not a single team shot worse than 27 percent.

So the only people who can't hit that shot 25 percent of the time? They aren't taking them.

The only argument against players being more skilled in the past than they are now is this: the most talented teams are usually the youngest, and the most experienced teams usually have the least pro talent. I'll give you that much. But to blame the three-pointer for...well, anything, is incorrect. It has unquestionably made basketball a better game. The fact that I've spent part of my day arguing about this in the year 2012 absolutely blows my mind.

The fact that the person I'm arguing with is a blowhard who makes assumptions about others and absurd blanket statements that are factually incorrect? Not as surprising.


DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

No, you do not come close to seeing all those things. Far from it. And they are not the featured moves.

How would you know if they are good at defending the mid range, they never have to. Hardly anyone takes those shots. Maybe Bertrand once in a while. When was the last time you saw Paul drive and pull up , stop and pop an 8 footer.  Or someone fake stop and shoot. Has nothing to do with defense, it has to do with shot selection.

As for the percentages, your reciting the percentage of those that shot them. I am talking about all players, and most cannot. Remember Deon, he could hit a 15 footer fake, stop and pop. When was the last time you saw a forward do that on our team.

It has hurt the game. Eddie Johnson, Mark Smith, I can go on and on, these guys had moves, and could score. They did not stand around glued to the three line. Tell me, have you ever seen a guy have an open lane to the basket, no one 15 feet around, as he stands there on the three line shooting a three. How exciting. I would rather he be defended and take a closer shot, fake, and get fouled. MOst players have NO ONE ON ONE SKILLS. Admit it.

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm

And, one more thing, they are NOT SHOOTING JUMP SHOTS, their feet are on the ground. You just think they are.

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm

So what happened to the mid range game that took some skill where people are guarding people.

What happened to that. It is gone. Very few kids today can dribble, stop and pop. They have very little skill. Look, and I say look because you need to understand you have fallen in love with the announcers telling the big three is a great feat. Well, it is so far away from the basket that there is very little action involved.

beekay wrote on November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I don't want to disrespect your appreciation of the way the game of basketball was played in the era that you have the fondest memories of, nor do I wish to disrespect the talent of the players who played in that era.  But any good coach can tell you that the talent level of the average player who plays the game in the 21st century far exceeds that of the average player back when they were wearing the short shorts on the court.  Sure, there are moves that were more common back then when you saw more stop and pop mid-range jumpers and nifty footwork in the post.  But there is a reason for that - a shot that now gets you 3 points used to only get you 2 points back then.  And statistics show that the further you shoot away from the basket, the lesser the percentage of shots that are made.  It didn't make sense to take long shots back then.  The 3 point line has extended the length of the shots attempted, and the quality, quickness, and height of the athletes make those post moves and mid-range jump shots a lot more difficult than they used to be.  The game has evolved.

You're free to categorize the 3 point shooters as no-talent set shooters, but one fact that continues to hold true is this -- a guarded shot is much more difficult to make than an unguarded shot.  You can have the greatest set shooter in the world standing out there, but if the team can't find a way to give him an open look then his percentage is going to be lousy.  Teams still have to expose the defenses and take the shots that the defense gives them.  Many of those shots in today's game are going to be 3 pointers if the offense draws the defense to the dribbler.  It's the nature of the modern game.

And I'm sure there are some athletes that shoot 3 pointers with their feet on the floor, but most of them are jump shots.  Look at Tyler Griffey's Twitter account.  He's got a picture of his 3 pointer on there that beat Gardner-Webb.  And you'll clearly see separation between his shoes and the floor.

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm



It makes no sense to take a 3 today either. It has dumbed down the game as I said. Just becasue they do it does not make it fun to watch. I would tell you that skill wise, it takes a lot more skill to take the mid range or post shots ( non dunk) than the three ball. All of you have drank the coolaid and think the 3 is so great. What if we just ( and we almost do it now) shot nothing and I mean nothing but a three. Do you want that to be the contest that you came to watch. Get real, all of you. Have some guts, quit sucking up to the three is so great. It has ruined a good game. Sorry to let you in on that.

No, most of them are not jump shots. You do not realize it but they are not. Oh they get a little off the floor, but not a jumper. What happened to the fade, stop and pop, are they illegal. And to think, you may draw foul if you do it. Bad basketball, bad.


It is about as stupid as the three point contest the IHSA puts on. What is that worth. Most of the kids

that win are not even starters or play very little. Get with it, the three is hurting basketball.

beekay wrote on November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Coaches know that if they can get a guy to take a step back and sink a 3 pointer instead of a 2 pointer on a wide open look, then they have an advantage.  It drives coaches berserk if a guy takes a wide open shot two inches in front of the 3 point line.  You may not like it, but this was created when the 3 point line was instituted.  Having good 3 point shooters is a necessary part of today's game, and coaches know that they have to have them.  They're smarter than me, and they're smarter than you.

The days of a 6'5" Forward like Adrian Dantley are gone.  Dantley played 15 seasons in the NBA and averaged over 24 points a game because he was great at getting to the foul line and had a great mid-range jump shot.  But you know what they call a 6'5" guy like that now?  A guard.  There are only two guys in the entire Big Ten listed as Forwards who stand 6'5" or less.  Northwestern has one and Nebraska has one.  A 6'5" guard is expected to be able to shoot the three ball in today's game.  Dantley only had 41 attempted 3 point shots in his entire career.  That would never cut it at a major university these days.  He would be expected to be able to extend his range.

You don't have to like it, but it's true.  You're stuck in the past and if you coached, your teams would get obliterated.

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I agree, they have an advantage of shooting a 3 over a 2. My point is , it is not exciting, not as much as seeing a guy back down the defense, lower a shoulder and fade. That takes real skill. Or , a jump hook, or and up and under cross over. What do you want to watch, a shooting contest or a basketball contest.

beekay wrote on November 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

Okay, if that's your point then I have no problem with it.  I was under the impression that the Illini should be recruiting differently and that they were playing the wrong system.  If your beef is that the institution of the 3 point shot has significantly altered a style of basketball that you enjoy, then I'm fine with your criticism.  But there really isn't anything we can do to change it back.  We have to play the game that gives us the best chance to win.  Unfortunately for you, that incorporates 3 point shots into the equation.

DaisyJ wrote on November 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

It got changed and added, so to say there is nothing that can be done to change it back, that is why I got after it. Time we all spoke up. They took away a good game from us.

DaisyJ wrote on November 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

ONE more thing, the talent level comment, that coaches think they are more talented than ever.

I have said the skill level, offensive skill level is way down. The dunk and the 3 have made for very few kids that can shoot or have a one on one game to them. It is obvious. I do not want to see a three ball contest. Have you ever notice there are hardly any offensive rebounds, let alone put backs. This is because the three shot bounces so far out there are no rebounds anymore under the basket. Most of you can say they do not like me saying this, but you have forgot how good basketball can be.


IlliniMike05 wrote on November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

It's not gone. It still exists.

The reason you see it less? BECAUSE IT'S THE WORST SHOT TO TAKE. Yes, it's good to have a complete arsenal as an individual player, but 15-20 foot shots are the worst ones to take:

-The percentages on those shots are negligably better, and sometimes worse, than three-point attempts.

-You don't get fouled on them like you do on shots at the basket.

-They don't lead to offensive rebounds.

I get what you're saying, believe me, I do. As the game has evolved and gotten smarter and (regrettably) much more defensively oriented, it's not as aesthetically pleasing in some ways. But don't act like these individual skills are gone altogether. They're not. No, you don't see as much of some of the things you talk about, but they haven't gone anywhere. You don't see as much midrange shooting because people have figured out how inefficient it is. It's nice to have that skill but it's literally the last shot you should take for the reasons I outlined above.

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Not fun to watch, and you did not realize it until today. Shooting a long shot is not skillful

IlliniMike05 wrote on November 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

You're an idiot.

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

An idiot would add a 4 poiint shot 3 feet further out...that is what you come to see.

JohnWams wrote on November 28, 2012 at 4:11 am

Some idiots already added a 4 point shot a few years ago. They are called the Harlem Globetrotters.

rlouizjr wrote on December 02, 2012 at 7:12 pm
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i have to say Larry Bird did some incredible things with his long range shooting ability....And really can anyone say that ray allen skill is watered down ....that is funny..

Matt wrote on November 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm

One of the all time ignorant comments posted on this site and that's saying something with Moonpie around.  If it's so easy then why do so few players shoot under 40%? . Why are only a few guys per team even ALLOWED to attempt it? What is the point of saying something so foolish? Are you just bored?

The amount of threes we shoot has worried me since the first game, but maybe that's this teams only chance at winning games.....or maybe we'll stay hot all year at it will become our identity. With our weak post game I don't have a better idea and so far so good.

Gotta love seeing Griff's new found confidence in his game. He had moments like this his freshman year and then disappeared for 2 years. Great to see.



jeffh wrote on November 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Illinois may have a coach's contract buyout but it's nowhere close to Auburn's, and most of the SEC.  

Chizic is to receive $200,000/MONTH for three years, in the midst of one of the slowest economies ever, and he doesn't have to lift a finger?  The man should never have to work again in his life.  If i was in that job I wouldn't mind being fired at all -- OK just foolin'!

But that is crazy and that's the SEC, and that's what Loren is saying.  And as usual I agree with him.  

JimOATSfan wrote on November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Perhaps it is time to call him TREY Griffey?

jdstieg wrote on November 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Daisy J please meet Moonpie.  You two are a pair to draw to.  Wow!

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

SO, you are teilling me you would like a 4 point shot added to the game, a line that is say 4 feet farther to make things real exciting. Get the picture now ??

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Look, just answer this question. Would any of the same shots be taken in a game if the three line was not there. We would be seeing a far different game. A game where young kids practice skill moves, not hiding out at the three lines. Same with the big men on dunks. Do you realize when you can power dunk a ball, you get to power the shot and push off with your arms the defender, holding on to the rim as you go. Which is harder, having to finess youself to make a 3 footer or slaming a three footer down the hole. What is easier to do if you are 6 ft 10. How much talent is there in the dunk. Is there more skill in driving to the hole, or standing out making 30% of a long shot, that most times the defense lets you take because it is such a hard shot. GO watch a three ball shooting contest at the YMCA if you wish, give me a guy that has moves and I will tell you who has skill.

arch73 wrote on November 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Day Z---I think you need to accept that the three IS a skill but is just not one that you are interested in watching.

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

over time, neither would you, if every shot, every was just a three, you would get the picture. It is nothing more that a set shot, and that was said by a couple of D1 coaches..

afan wrote on November 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

The difference in 3 point shooting between last year and this goes well beyond a lucky shooting streak.  Last year the emphasis was on getting the ball into the post and 3's were often taken as desperation heaves as the shot clock ran out.  Illinois is actively trying to set up 3 pointers this year.  Where last year they'd look for a "better" shot, and go deep into the shot clock.  This year they'll take the first open 3 they get regardless of how much time is left on the clock.  The result is better 3 point shots leading to higher 3 point shooting percentages.  It also speeds up the game which is more fun to watch.

82sage wrote on November 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

   If one likes the three or not it is here to stay. The 05 team was an exciting team to watch and they put up their share of three point shots. It actually can add excitement to a game. In the past where large defecits made it impossible to come back the three shot has changed that. To say it takes no skill to make a three is not accurate. If that is the case there would be many more effective shooters from that range. With all the advancement in training and supplements the athlete today is far superior to those of a different era. I could understand if one was to say in my opinion, but to expect all others to believe or think the same is laughable and makes one seem very, um not sure to say arrogant or ignorant and of course these are just my thoughts on the subject matter agree or disagree that is your option.

DaisyJ wrote on November 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I am going to help all of you out here. Look,,,remember when we had on offense 2 forwards on the outside of the lane, one on each side, and a center that would exchange with them, posting up, some high low, some low picks. Now we come down and maybe one guy is posting the others out standing with their tounge wagging waiting ( no movements, just standing, standing standing , arms out) hopeing to get a pass to shoot the big deal three ball. Used to be no one with any sense would be so far away from the thing that counts, the rim. How many rebounds can you get out there. How much action, how high do you see jumping big men jump, heck , Griffey spends most of his time how many feet from the basket. And you call this exciting. What purpose does this have. The game has become a game of keep away, no drives if any, people never cutting to the hole, after all, the announcer must say three....eeeeeeeee... so they can get the credit they deserve. The game is not fun to watch when all you do is shoot threes.

illinihimeyiswhiney wrote on November 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Jesus... Daisy, I thought now that "webborn" was gone you would pull back from the same ledge moonpie is teetering on... apparently not. Between the two of you its gonna be a long basketball season as well. Good Moonpie this is going to be great fun!

afan wrote on November 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

First of all very few people can shoot 35% from behind the 3 point line in an empty gym much less with other skilled players actively trying to make shooting more difficult.  You have to be able to move without the ball and create space for yourself, and someone may need to set a screen or penetrate into the lane to get defenders off you.  A lot goes into getting the type of great looks from outside that Illinois is getting.  

That being said team weaknesses include defensive rebounding, post play in general and turnovers. I think post play will only get better as the season progresses and in the meantime the guard play is taking most of the pressure off.  Rebounding and turnovers will probably continue to be problems off and on depending on match ups.  

3 point shooting is definitely not a problem, on the contrary, it's what allows Illinois to cover for their weaknesses in other areas.  "Live by the 3 die by the 3" is nonsensical.  If you don't hit a decent percentage of your shots you're going to lose no matter where the shots are taken from.  It's like any other weapon in the basketball arsenal.  

penniless wrote on November 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Look,Look is for closed  minds. Illini play Yellowjackets  and thier 3s shots come in at low 20% for the season,Thier last game with St. Marys low 40%.I'm sure your blanket statement on 3s is almost correct.3s are a love and hate part of the game.Inside game I enjoy the most.Now that is a true skill that is fading in BB.

DaisyJ wrote on November 28, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Half time of the Duke game they showed the little hands of the guys that were hugging the three line, just standing there with those circles around them begging for a three shot, the 4th guy out on the line also, one guy under the basket. Give me a break. How stupid, stand on the three line begging. The game needs changed. Stand up. Speak out. I call it stand - around - ball. Big tall guys out hugging the line. "For What".

CecilColeman wrote on December 03, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Let's hope somebody buy's Daisy a cookbook for Christmas.

DaisyJ wrote on December 05, 2012 at 9:12 am

Forgot one more reason to dump the 3. Just watch the kids that never cut into the lane, NEVER,

they stand at the three line. What is up with that. If we have no three line, we then go back to playing basketball.