Illini grade vs. Badgers: F

Illini grade vs. Badgers: F

Our breakdown of a Saturday gone bad for the soon-to-be unranked Illini:

Wisconsin 74, Illinois 51
Player of the Game: Wisconsin’s Jared Berggren

Stout Minnesotan produced a double-double, scoring 15 and pulling down 12 boards. Seven were on the offensive end, part of a dominating performance by Wisconsin on its end of the court. Seemed like the Badgers had the ball more minutes at a time.

Wisconsin A-, Illinois F

Early foul trouble and an elbow to the face did in the Illini, who got just two points from starters Nnanna Egwu and Tyler Griffey. Egwu went to the bench with three fouls in the first half and Griffey had to go in for repairs after absorbing a nasty hit. Wisconsin starters combined for 32 points and 24 rebounds.

Wisconsin B, Illinois C-

D.J. Richardson was by far the most effective Illini, hitting 7 of 11 shots for 16 points. But Brandon Paul struggled mightily, missing all but one of 11 shots from the field. The cold streak extended to the free throw line, where he missed half of his 10 attempts. Traevon Jackson put a smile on Bo Ryan’s face with his first-half effort.

Wisconsin B, Illinois C

Badgers might have found their next star in freshman Sam Dekker, who hit three three-pointers and helped on the glass and defensively. Joseph Bertrand was needed early by John Groce and helped out with 12 points and seven rebounds. With the blowout loss, Groce found plenty of time for his subs.

Wisconsin A, Illinois F

Consecutive lopsided losses won’t likely knock the Illini out of the Top 25, but it will be close. Illinois was never in the game, letting the Badgers take a 20-point advantage before Ryan had even yelled at the officials. After a slow start this season, Wisconsin is making another push toward the NCAA tournament.

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beekay wrote on January 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm

An F is a kind grade.  I gave us a Z for giving us zero fundamental basketball today.  Just a bunch of one on one with no defense or rebounding.

JimOATSfan wrote on January 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

So this season it must be the players, NOT the coach. Did you see the box score for the frontcourt: 3 rebounds & 2 points versus 32 & 24 for Wisconsin? Mike Shaw had 3 rebounds to boost the front court total to 6.

Perhaps the refs allow to much violence, disguised as 'aggressiveness' in modern-day basketball speak, and it is too much for our team?  Extreme aggressiveness is hard for anyone to manage, but even more so for the highly skilled athletisism required to get on the basketball court at the major college and pro levels.  I know I couldn't have handled it and come out draining treys when I was their age (or even now).

Cold shooting in B1G play, like last season, sends a team in a downward spiral. 2011-12 all over again?



griff507 wrote on January 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Same players = same results.

Got the big head after beating OSU,( just like last year), going in the toilet(just like last year).

How this team can play so well one day and stink up the joint the next, is hard to put into words.

They have reverted back to the bad habits of last year. Can't pass, can't shoot, can't rebound, and can't guard. I guess it wasn't all Weber's fault. The players need to look into a mirror to find the problem. This group of players have never had the "killer attitude". They have always played down to their opponent. When they do that anybody can beat them.

I was afraid that their three point shooting early in the season would prove to be fools gold, and it was.  Now they can't throw it in the ocean, if they were standing on the beach.

Coach Groce, I can't wait until you get some of your player on the court. Good luck the rest of the year, you have your work cut out for you!

Go Illini!

patrick wrote on January 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I watched the IU-Minn. before this game...what a difference. Both squads played as teams...hard, tough, never give up defense and rebounding...good ball movement...looking for the open man. Then , there was the rebounding, listless defense...always looking for the 3 pt. shot. Over the last few years, it seems that we recruit "playground" players who simply lack solid basketball intelligence.

houstonillini84 wrote on January 12, 2013 at 7:01 pm

wow, thats one way to look at it. Another is coaching. Our offense looks like a playground offense: all one-on-one play, and long shots. Our assist to point ratio is terrible. On defense, i can understand our lack of size, but how about a few block-outs? Even a guard can try to put on a body on his man. And this is more about the Minny game, but how about getting back on D?

A lot of folks blamed Weber's system, and certainly that system bogged down sometimes. But jeesh, at least we HAD a system. I struggle to see a system on offense other that to roll the ball out and tell them to go play.

Its too early to say if Groce is a good coach or not, but IMO he is not doing a good job of coaching these players. I am really disappointed by the lack of good fundamentals. And if he cant recruit a good PG soon, he might not last as coach because while I like a lot about Tracy, he is not a true PG. We desperately need someone to create opportunities for others.

DaisyJ wrote on January 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm

pLAYground IS RIGHT ON. This is street ball and if Groce cannot see it then shame on him. YOU are right, there is no system.  If I were a big guy on this team that tried to post up and the guards just tried to always shoot or drive, I would be having my own conversation with my teamates.

griff507 wrote on January 13, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Where were your great insites before the OSU game. If you expressed them, I am sorry I didn't see them. It is easy to say all those things now.

We all can see the problems now. I was not a big Weber guy, but when he is the one who brought these guys in, he has to take the blame, not Groce. All Groce can do is try to get the best out of what was left behind. As I stated above- Same players = same results. Weber never did know how to recruit players with that "killer attitude".  His teams always let teams back in games, when they had big leads. These are still his kids.

DaisyJ wrote on January 14, 2013 at 11:01 am

Players in OSU game made the correct decisions regarding shot selection. Groce did not need to do any corrections .  Last 3 losses look like groundhog day games. As for this guys players being Weborns, so what. No one forced him to take the job. He has to live with his talent. He has not allowed for consequences for his kids continued mistakes. I laugh at the killer attitude and not tough enough kids quotes. Has nothing to do with being tough, not a boxing match or wrestling match. The guy who is not tough enough is the COACH.

HoosierIllinois wrote on January 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

Ditto, in all respects.

FloridaIllini wrote on January 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Looks and feels pretty much like last year- same players- different coach- same outcome

PortlandIllini wrote on January 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Looks like the Badgers learned something about Illinois from the Gophers.   Start off the game by hitting somebody in the face. Then the Illini lose their shooting and rebounding composure.

Last game it was Brandon Paul,  this time it was Tyler Griffey.   We should expect this strategy in every Big Ten game from now on.  I'm predicting Nnanna Egwu will be the next target.

Time for the Illini to unleash their inner beasts?


DaisyJ wrote on January 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Well well well,, so you like the three point shot do you. Ha ha. Actually, the three ball was not what got us in trouble from the start, it was the forced drives and forced shot selection. To be a good offensive player is not that hard. You must however have an understanding of what a good shot is and is not. A good shot is one you take when you want to. Not one that almost was when and where you want to. We have spent the last 2 games taking horrible shots with the coach not having any consequences to the player or players that take them. No one sits after a bad shot, no one is scolded, even in the closed in huddle. What we have is a coach that has lost control of the offense and forget the defense, it is in trouble also. Most penetrators were out of control of their own bodies. And Griffey, well stop playing him alltogether.. Stop now. D O N E. 

Groce gets an F for his contribution today.

blmillini wrote on January 12, 2013 at 7:01 pm

That was the approach used last year.  If it didn't work then, what makes you think it will work now?  Basketball players must play with confidence and this group is very fragile in that area.  The only thing you do by beating guys up for those issues is crush their confidence.  The Illini need to do two things, (1) get through this season as best we can keeping confidence in check as much as possible, and (2) recruit more diverse players that are less fragile moving forward.

DaisyJ wrote on January 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Not true, last year we had Weborn play keep away for most of the shot clock, then a bad shot. We are getting off twice the amout of bad shots this year, and no defense. As for these fragile guys, I do not buy it. It is like this, people can correct themselves if they are told and shown the behavior is wrong. If they learned to do the wrong thing, they can learn to do the right thing with the ball. But, you have to stop and make the corrections, something Groce is not doing.

JohnUI82 wrote on January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Make corrections in practice. Yanking a player after every bad shot or bad decision will only make any team play tight and sap whatever confidence this team has.

DaisyJ wrote on January 13, 2013 at 9:01 am

What, make corrections only at practice and not in game. Hey, let me coach, I can sit and watch and do nothing. Try this, you will get their attention, may take 5 come outs, 5 put back ins, but you will get what you want to accomplish. However, just let them screw around throwing up garbage shots gets you the team you have. As for confidence, these kids are just mis directed in their thinking of what a good shot is. You have to tell them with bench time that is not acceptable.

tmh2196 wrote on January 12, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Being an Ilini fan feels a lot like being a cubs fan latley.

jjohnson wrote on January 13, 2013 at 8:01 am

We seem to have a lot of fickle contributors.

JamesB wrote on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 am

OK fellow Illini fans.  Don't get too down.  We were flat, you could sense it right off the bat.  You never look good when you're emotionally not into it.  

That said, we all knew there would be some tough going in conference play.  This team was not constructed for Big 10 play last year, and it's not as if we've added anyone this year.  We need some big guys, with broad shoulders, some rebounders, some enforcers, someone with a little nasty in him.  We have a bunch of sweet guys, really good people, even some good athletes, but that alone is not gonna cut it.

So stay positive, get through this year (maybe a tournament bid, maybe not), and hopefully we'll start bringing in players that can win in the Big 10.  I do think Groce is the right man for the job.  Let's not start undercutting him on the message boards before he has a chance to get his own players in here.

Dan Bloeme wrote on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 am

Today's game just like the one at Purdue is an indictment against Bruce Weber. Except for gimpy McLaurin, these are the players Weber recruited and players that let Weber down in previous seasons. Starting with Griffey who lacks balls and aggressiveness to play inside and contributes virtually nothing, this roster of Weber recruits is soft, timid, blase and lacking drive. Fundamentals like ball handling are lacking and team is very unbalanced with huge holes on the inside and at point. Opponents will exploit the Illini's lack of toughness, especially at center and power forward spots and lack of ball handling and passing skills. Mostly though the lack of heart, drive and determination in these Weber recruits is leading to the same type of results as previous disastrous years under Weber himself. With the departure of the seniors there will come some improvement but it will take several years until Weber's recruits are gone. Face it, Coach Groce is NOT a miracle worker and can not motivate these heartless imposters - they are not true Fighting Illini. 

HoosierIllinois wrote on January 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I agree.  If you like to play basketball, you are not so darn inconsistent game to game.  These guys are not really players.

Illini Drumline Guy wrote on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 am

last year's team lacked overall size....subtract Leonard...add..McLaurin..(I would not make that trade)...and Groce has the same problems as Weber. The Illini can compete well out of conference but the overall size is very difficult to overcome. Consistent rebounding and contesting shots when you are undersized is not a recipe for success....that is why big people get recruited, big people play and big people get drated to the NBA.....

the team can collectively rebound by putting bodies on bodies and creating space but that gets compromised running out to shooters...pick your poison...try to body up shooters that can see over you or let them shoot and then work the boards...Gill and Bardo helped to rebound from the guard position back in 89...but they were 6'6" and 6'5" ....we lack in size at just about every position.

There are several winable games left....9-9 is not out of the question but complete lack of effort games like the last 2 will send the Illini home without a NIT bid.

Let Groce recruit size and give him some time to get his system installed.

Everyone got over thier skis a little bit with the hot start. Preseason prdiction was 10th in the Big Ten. Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, in a different league (all with coaches in their 4th year of so) MSU, OSU next tier.

Illinois can battle Wisconsin and Iowa for 6th

Illini better than Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska and Purdue.

WIsconsin game winable at home. They shots will not fall as readily for the Badgers, and the refs whilstle not quite as freindly outside of the Kohl Center...(that is years old issue in my opinion).

we will soon see if the Illini learned from last year or cave into Nortwestern and Nebraska


jruss62 wrote on January 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

The ski is falling the ski is falling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Come on I suppose we should fire Coach Groce and hire all of you. Most of you probable never even played the game, so leave the coaching to the coaches and just root for the team.

No I'm not pleased with the Wisconsin game. The shots were not falling but the lack of effort is my worry.

I will go out on a limb and say the lack of effort we not be a problem after practice this week.

Coach Groce and staff will find away to get this team back on track mark my words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!







 GO ILLINI                                                                                          jruss62

patrick wrote on January 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Russ...I sure don't advocate firing Groce. And, as others have pointed out, we lack size. However, this team reminds me too much of the teams of the last 3 seasons. In particular, the lack of consistent effort drives me wild. if players can't get "up" for conference games, why are they even on the team? Also similar to last 2 or 3 seasons, this team just doesn't seem to work well together. On saturday, I saw so many instances where guys sttod around looking for their "spot" or their "shot".

I hate the losing, but I hate the lack of consistent effort and the lack of team play even more. Years ago, when an Illini team lacked talent and size, an opposing Bifg 10 coach said he hated playing the illini, becaues, "they never give...they just keep coming at you". Oh, how I'd love to see that again.

snapper wrote on January 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm

For three years I have been reading HoustonIllini's comments with bemusement.  I can take it no more.  I have to break a personal rule and post. I believe HoustonIllini actually is Bruce Weber.  His need to repeatedly demonstate how little he knows about basketball while being smug at the same time would seem to indicate as much.  Stunning!