Illini grade vs. Gonzaga: A plus

Illini grade vs. Gonzaga: A plus

Our breakdown of Satuday's 85-74 win at Gonzaga

Player of the Game: Brandon Paul
Remember the breakout night he had against Ohio State? This one might have been better. It was on the road and he seemed to time his baskets when his team needed them most. We’re seeing the National Player of the Week.

Illinois A+, Gonzaga D

Where’s all the great three-point shooting we heard about from the Bulldogs? While Kevin Pangos and his pals were looking for their games, Tracy Abrams and D.J. Richardson were helping out their pal Paul.

Illinois D, Gonzaga A

In hindsight, perhaps the Bulldogs should have fired a few more passes to Kelly Olynyk. The guy with Adam Morrison hair didn’t miss and put the Illini in early foul trouble.

Illinois B, Gonzaga C

Joseph Bertrand was his usual productive self and Sam McLaurin helped on the glass. But the big moments belonged to Myke Henry, who hit a pair of key three-pointers. Nice to see John Stockton following his son David.

Illinois A+, Gonzaga C

Hello, Mike Thomas, this is John Groce’s agent. About that contract ... When the NCAA tournament selection committee looks at Illinois’ body of work, it’s going to get a gold star for the rare opponent win at The Kennel.

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butkus50 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 12:12 am

Great win for Illini. Exciting team to watch. Same personnel as last year minus Leonard. What a difference a coach makes.

Interesting that Butch Jones left Cincinnati for Tennessee and Thomas could not get him to come to Illinois. I think that says a lot about either Thomas or Illinois or both.

OKOMIS wrote on December 09, 2012 at 9:12 am

So if Sumlin had come Nathan would have won the Heisman?? It would have been Nathan football instead of Johny..


butkus50 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Illini sure would not have been 2-10 with Sumlin!


Anyone think Paul plays role of E. Turner from Ohio State in Groce's offense?

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 3:12 pm

To the extent that he's a big wing (I personally think Brandon's closer to 6'5" than 6'4") who plays on the ball a lot and often has the floor spread for him to make something happen, yes, he's playing a similar role. But that's where the similarities end. Turner, by his junior year, was the unquestioned Ohio State point guard. Paul is much more of a straight-up shooting guard who shares lead guard responsibilities with Tracy Abrams. Brandon plays off the ball, running the baseline/coming off curls/spotting up for catch-and-shoots waaaay more than Turner ever did. 

In the roughest, most macro of senses, he kinda plays the Evan Turner role. But they have very different games.

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 2:12 pm

What does that second paragraph have to do with anything? It says about Illinois that they don't pay football coaches nearly as much as Tennessee does and that Tennessee is a much more prestigious job. We already knew this. What was your point?

penniless wrote on December 09, 2012 at 1:12 am

Brandon gets the A plus.Groce gets an A.Rest of the team a B minus.The problem is the Illini are one injury away from disaster or an off night for Paul.Paul's near perfection game,just how many of those can one come up with?Your grade comes from a win that was suppose to be a loss.B plus or A minus,stop drinking the koolade.

OKOMIS wrote on December 09, 2012 at 8:12 am

I wonder if Florida would have won a national title with ONE injury..(lets say career ending Tim Tebow).. or Auburn a couple years ago with ONE injury to Cam Newton… what a silly comment…..

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 2:12 pm

So if our best player gets hurt, it's bad? Just want to make sure I'm on the same page. 

That's some hard-hitting commentary right there. You must have really crunched the numbers to come up with an advanced metric to cover that one, bud.


OKOMIS wrote on December 09, 2012 at 6:12 pm

gee you think?

illini4fan wrote on December 09, 2012 at 1:12 am

Not sure how you give  a D for the frontcourt grade but an A+ overall, that doesnt make sense but great win none the less! GO ILLINI!!!!

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 2:12 pm

It's not exactly the most scientific of grading systems, bud. You've overthought this.

PortlandIllini wrote on December 09, 2012 at 2:12 am

Great win in a tough environment.   Congratulations to the whole team!

But some Barking Dogs of Criticism will actually complain that  Brandon Paul's performance  shows the true weakness of the Illini.  He can't play that well every night.   Sure they beat a  good team from the WCC,  but just wait til the Illini have to play against better teams in tougher arenas in the Big Ten. Gonzaga always loses to more athletic teams from the power conferences.  Oh,  and this simply mirrors the Illini's performance last year when Brandon Paul peaked against Ohio State and then the team fell apart.   Oh, and don't forget that Coach Groce is simply winning with Weber's recruits. 

So far,  the Illini are not slowing down for any Barking Dogs.  This year they are indeed the Fighting Illini.

illinibball1 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 5:12 am

Here we go with the "he won with Krueger's recruits, he won with Self's recruits, and now he won with Weber's recruits debate." Who cares!!! Enjoy the win! Makes me question the loyalty of so called "fans" who always have something negative to nothing makes you happy. I bet even if we win National Championship someone on here will post something negative.

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 2:12 pm

It's not a debate. All of those coaches won games with players the previous coach recruited. There isn't a debate about this. 

What I would like to know is who you're responding to, why you're bringing this up, and why anyone should care. 

Bwp 5P wrote on December 09, 2012 at 8:12 am

Where's MOONPIE wth his/her usual criticism?

IlliniMike05 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Who cares?

JDG613 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 3:12 pm

He won't criticize unless Tate wrote the article, and he won't criticize the article, only the author.  Because this article was by Asmussen, there's no open door for the juvenile tirade of Moonpie... 

djonesz wrote on December 09, 2012 at 9:12 am

Correction.....It is Howard's recruits , not Weber's .....Weber never won a recruiting battle during his tenure at Illinois!

Bear8287 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 11:12 am

Congratulations to the Illini!

Go Illini, go Coach Groce!  Prove the doubters are wrong!

Go Illni!

blmillini wrote on December 09, 2012 at 11:12 am

Our guard play was certainly the difference but I thought our bigs did a decent job of keeping their bigs off the glass.  Even though our bigs didn't get many rebounds, they created space for our guards to get to the ball.  All, while battling foul trouble as a group.  I would have rated them a little higher.

Personally I think this was a better game for Paul.  The OSU game was one of those where he was just simply on fire and kept hitting from outside.  This game he was doing everything and that included hitting from outside, driving to the bucket and playing defense.  He looked like an NBA player last night.

Regarding the Weber recruits... I'm guessing that was tongue in cheek. 

tonyjb37 wrote on December 09, 2012 at 5:12 pm
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John Groce is an awesome coach!! Beckman has no business coaching especially in the Big Ten. Coach Groce continues to prove that it is the coaching that makes a difference and that great coaches do win immediately in their first year. Beckman just so happens to be the worst hire in Illinois history and it is a shame! Thomas is an idiot and does not know what it takes to hire a great football coach or how to even go about it if you dont listen to the fans that pay your bills and keep blowing us off then we'll do the same to you dummy! I got your message loud and clear Mikey, the fans dont matter! Well, you made your bed and now you gotta sleep in it. hope you have fun adjusting your budget schmuck. 

rlouizjr wrote on December 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm
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I dont understand when people talk about winning with someone elses recruits...First off the guy who left the recruits couldnt take them with him and 9 times out of 10 he was more than likely LOSING with them i.e. Bruce Weber and i like weber as a man and respect as a coach,but he had shortcomings in how to maximize the talents of his current players at ILLINOIS.

He is given another at a decent school and our new coach comes in and i see the same recruits using most of the skills they came to school with.Bertrand slashing,tyler hitting shots(and big time ones).i see Brandon being his all around self.i see DJ being the pillar defensive guy and hitting shots and others as well.All things these guys should have been able to do with Weber but it seems that that system didnt allow it .Groce system is all about skill enhancement  So once he had a signed paycheck from the state of Illinois,guess whose recruits they became?.....And guess whose undefeated right now?Webers recruits or Groce?