Illini grade vs. Gophers: C minus

Illini grade vs. Gophers: C minus

Our breakdown of Wednesday's game: Minnesota 84, Illinois 67

Player of the Game: Minnesota’s Joe Coleman
Hometown kid made the folks in Minneapolis proud with a career-best 29 points. He scored in all sorts of ways: dunks, threes, layups, you name it. Credit his teammates for being smart enough to keep getting him the ball.

Minnesota A-, Illinois D

Sixth-year stud Trevor Mbakwe had a double-double (19 points, 11 boards) and showed again that the Illini are going to have trouble with the big guys. Illinois is going to need more than two rebounds and two fouls from senior Tyler Griffey.

Minnesota A+, Illinois C

Sign of trouble for Illini: Andre Hollins banks in a midcourt shot. Hollins added 22 points to Coleman’s 29 and had eight rebounds and six assists. Early foul trouble for Tracy Abrams hurt Illini. So did Brandon Paul’s bloody nose.

Minnesota D, Illinois C

Gophers didn’t get a point from the backups and just three rebounds. Minnesota is going to need more help from the subs if it wants to contend for the Big Ten title. Joseph Bertrand tried but missed too many shots (7 of 9).

Minnesota A, Illinois C-

Gophers earned Tubby Smith a contract extension with a late rush last season. What happens if they keep winning at this rate: Governor Smith? With a weekend trip to Madison, John Groce’s guys can expect some strenuous practices the next couple of days.

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JohnUI82 wrote on January 10, 2013 at 1:01 am

Think I've read more commenter criticism of DJ on this site and elsewhere than any other Illini, but he's a pretty sticky defender and improved driver. Griffey, however, contributes nothing that I can see if he's not making threes. He showed glimpses last nonconference season too and then disappeared in the Big Ten. Seems to be repeating that. Illini need all the size they can get, but 6-9 doesn't do them much good if he can't play 6-9. Could Djimde or Shaw do any worse?

LoyalIllini wrote on January 10, 2013 at 7:01 am

Bob, thanks for calling out that TG needs to produce. Usually the NG fails to belly up with a name even when obvious.  I predict we start to see a big change in his minutes or production.

Green Shirt wrote on January 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

As Bill Self used to say "Its all about match-ups".  Tyler is a hard working and can be a great shooter.  What he is not is a great athlete.  I was concerned going in about having him matched with an incredible athlete - Rodney Williams.  The only guy we have that might match Rodney's athleticism is Joe Bertrand. Against most other teams, most other players Tyler can make a positive contribution. 

Moonpie wrote on January 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

This team has been overrated from the start. They play in a league where it's fatal if you have no inside game that can score and defend. More losses coming. They do play hard and Groce seems a good fit.

But Mr. Oracle Tate and Bushleague Jackson have been hyping a team that ain't going that far this season.

And somehow we'll hear that it's somehow the fans' fault.

Illinix4 wrote on January 10, 2013 at 9:01 am

You state, "This team has been overrated from the start."  You do realize this team was picked to finish ninth in the league, right?  So, they are still overrated?  Where are they supposed to end up then?  Ranked behind Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue, and Northwestern?

I agree that you need to have an inside game to contend but its not fatal.  Our seniors need to realize that when the threes arent dropping, they need to dribble drive and was the case when Abrams got back into the game.  His penetration allowed the Illini to get back into the game.  Groce needs to not only allow DJ to shoot the three, but instruct him that when they are not falling, drive in or pick and pop short jumpers.  I also agree that there will be more losses coming but I dont think there will be near as many as your enlightened soul is eluding to.

Your pessimism and negativity are unwarranted and have no place on this message board.  I understand you have the right to your opinion, but I have never seen ONE comment from you that was positive...EVER.  Do us all a favor and crawl back under the rock you slithered out from under.  Keep a journal off all the negativity you have about this team or any Illini team...better yet, choose a different team and go troll their boards.  Indiana could use your comments.

Have a GREAT Illini day!

JDG613 wrote on January 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Illinix4 - Thanks for being right on the money with your observations and response to an inane commenter (Moon).

Illinois has vastly outdone the predictions for this season, and has far more ability/promise than most would have predicted.  Would any of us have believed they could beat a top-10 team like OSU this season, after their horrendous late-season collapse last year?  A loss to Minn isn't shocking, especially when BP misses much of the 1st half.

You're also right on the money with your assessment of Moon's ludicrous and consistently hyper-critical comments...except that his comments usually don't actually address the team's performance, they're usually focused on the writer himself.

Illinois has surpassed most expectations this year, already.  It would be great if they could go undefeated, but that's not realistic.  They're 1-2 in the B10 so far, which I think almost everyone would have projected, based on their schedule, although most would have probably picked a W over Purdue, and an L from OSU.

I think we're a year away from a consistent performance... but I attribute the strong showing so far to the approach of our coach.  He seems to have connected with what the players need to perform at a higher level.  It's especially reassuring to see how they brought more effort after the rather lackluster performance against Purdue.

All the sportscasters/writers talk about how tough the B10 is this year.  It might be fortunate to come out w/ a conference record over .500.

CLBlood wrote on January 10, 2013 at 2:01 pm

illinix4, you are correct. We were "rated from the start" to finish 9th of 12.

If we finish 8th, we were underrated from the start. What would that take, 7 & 11? 

Also, we didn't get one vote from coaches or media in the first national poll of the year (Oct. 26). Not "overrated from the start" there.