Tate: Let the storm roll in

Question of the day: Is it appropriate for Illini fans to rush the Assembly Hall court if they beat Purdue on Wednesday night?

Colin Cowherd, one of my favorite ESPN voices, joins those who feel these mob scenes are getting out of hand. Speaking from his studio — you might feel different if you were present, Colin — he criticized the outburst after Notre Dame’s five-OT defeat of Louisville (near 1 a.m. in South Bend, that’s reason enough to celebrate). He also questioned the Illini eruption after upsetting Indiana on Thursday.

“It’s an admission the other team is better,” Cowherd said.

Well, does anyone truly doubt that the Hoosiers are better? And Purdue certainly has been. The Boilermakers have beaten Illinois eight straight, and another win would give them two nine-game streaks in the last 18 years. They aren’t very good this year (12-12) but they spanked Illinois 68-61 on Jan. 2 — call it a New Year’s hangover — and have a way of defending that the Illini have yet to master.

As for Indiana, consider: The Hoosiers were brilliant Sunday at Ohio State, and they’re still No. 1 in the AP poll (Duke is No. 1 with the coaches). Indiana led here by 14 early and by 69-59 going into the last four minutes. Tyler Griffey’s layup triggered a perfectly appropriate explosion for despairing fans who had seen their favorites lose 19 of 23 games against Big Ten rivals and four straight at home.

Remember, Colin, these are college students, many of them looking for any reason to be rowdy. Believe me, they had reason last Thursday night.

Changing their ways
Sunday’s 57-53 Illini win at Minnesota was a grinder. Tubby Smith appears to be losing touch with his squad again — they’ve lost 6 of 8 — and were once again hampered by an absent regular: power forward Rodney Williams, bruised shoulder.

It is a team that is offensively inconsistent, and Illinois ignited a 17-4 pre-halftime rally after missing all eight fielders in the first 9:30 and falling behind 13-2 and 26-14. Illinois won because:

(1) With “keep shooting” encouragement from coach John Groce, the Illini were unfazed by another double-digit deficit and, once engaged, competed like bulldogs in the clutch.

(2) D.J. Richardson, co-Big Ten Player of the Week, sank game-changing treys to pull Illinois within 26-22, and the team cashed 11 treys for the first time since the 85-74 win Dec. 8 at Gonzaga. The game reversed itself and the Illini rode in on those 11 three-pointers.

(3) When big Gopher Trevor Mbakwe started having his way on the block, Groce elected to double-team him. This defensive adjustment paid huge dividends, particularly when Mbakwe threw the ball away just prior to Tracy Abrams’ tough three-pointer at :17. Trapping the post worked so well that the Illini might use it again vs. Purdue’s young monster, A.J. Hammons.

Tate’s tidbits
— Michigan State shot 87.5 percent in the second half (14 of 16) Jan. 31 and scored on every late possession to defeat Illinois 80-75. Since then, Indiana recorded two field goals in the last 6:45 here, and Minnesota managed just three two-pointers in the last 8:34 Sunday. Silly us ... we keep praising the offensive heroes.

— Wisconsin moved into the Top 25 while Minnesota and Missouri dropped out, leaving the Illini 4-4 against current members of the two major polls.

— The upset surge is rocking all levels. Creighton and Wichita State were once Top 25 members, but Creighton has lost 4 of 7 including Saturday’s home date with Illinois State (75-72), and the Wichita Shockers dropped 3 of 4 including a 64-62 result at struggling (9-15) SIU.
— Four non-seniors are assured of spots in the NBA’s first round and on the five-man Big Ten all-star team: Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. Who’ll get the fifth spot ... Tim Hardaway, Keith Appling, Bo Ryan? I’ll take Bo (maybe he’ll turn pro).

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

Comments

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Green Shirt wrote on February 12, 2013 at 6:02 am

It would be a very interesting dynamic to see Bo Ryan coach an NBA team.  Bo's approach may not be appreciated by many of the prima donnas in the NBA and one wonders how well the "Swing Offense" would perform with a 24-second clock. But all we can do is speculate since it will never happen.

IlliniMike05 wrote on February 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

What does this have to do with....anything? It wasn't in response to anything in the column. It's not a possibility. It's not even interesting.


If you watch the NBA, you should know that pro sets, even ones to set up isolations, beyond your standard pick-and-roll are much more intricate while being run much quicker (partially because of necessity because of the shorter clock, partially because the players are infinitely better) than typical college halfcourt systems. Could elements of the swing work in the NBA? Sure. It shares some principles with the flex offense, which has been used a lot in the NBA. It's a philosophical cousin of the Princeton offense, which has been used a lot in the NBA.


The swing offense, as is, is way too slow-moving to work against NBA defenses, which are infinitely smarter and more athletic than college defenses. You can't lull a pro defense to sleep on a regular basis. That's what makes the swing work. Yeah, it's a quirky system that requires a certain skill-set from bigs and guards alike that's somewhat counterintuitive for those respective conditions and Ryan has done an amazing job finding guys to fit it. But there's nothing that brilliant about it, really. They do something you aren't used to and basically bore you until they catch you napping. I know some people want to sound like they're basketball aficionados by telling everyone how much they appreciate the intricacies of Wisconsin's offense, but there's nothing fancy about it. They drive and kick, they invert guards and bigs, they shoot a bunch of threes, and they do so at a pace that is designed to bore you to death.


What any of this has to do with the completely absurd hypothetical of Bo Ryan coaching in the NBA, I have no idea.

Bear8287 wrote on February 12, 2013 at 11:02 am

> — Four non-seniors are assured of spots in the NBA’s first round and on the five-man Big Ten all-star team: Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. Who’ll get the fifth spot ... Tim Hardaway, Keith Appling, Bo Ryan? I’ll take Bo (maybe he’ll turn pro).

Hmmm... maybe Green's comment does have something to do with the article?  Lighten up.  You might also want to take West's advice and try switching to decaf. 

:-)

 

IlliniMike05 wrote on February 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

OK, so I missed that part. My bad. Still a ridiculous question.

illinidoc wrote on February 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm

For a comment that had nothing to do with anything, you certainly spent a great deal of time discussing it.

IlliniMike05 wrote on February 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

That maybe took me two minutes.

calvin wrote on February 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

It will continue until a little kid or an old-timer gets badly hurt, then it will be everyone else's fault.

WestChampaign wrote on February 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

Hey Mike, might be a good time to switch to Decaf

aaeismacgychel wrote on February 12, 2013 at 11:02 am

In general, I'm not a fan of rushing the court, especially against rivals, but I do make exceptions. If you beat a team with a last second shot or defensive stop and either the team is a Top 5 (maybe Top 10) or the win clinches you a title or the win is historic for your university (Say a school like NJIT knocking off a Top 10 team for the first time ever), 'm fine with it. But when it gets to the point where you become Indiana and rush the court after beating unranked Illinois and Minnesota, that's where I start rolling my eyes. Who does that? I think rushing the court against Indiana was justified- Nobody gave Illinois a chance in that game, Illinois made a fantastic comeback, Indiana was the #1 team in the country, and Griffey makes a game-winning layup off an inbounds pass with 0.9 seconds left to clinch it. That satisfies several of my criteria. Sure, with Indiana, I'd rather we all just pointed and laughed at them after celebrating the victory, but really, I can't hold it against the fans for rushing. Just please please please don't rush against Purdue if we do win. Heck, forget about rushing, let's just win. That's all I ask for and it's going to be hard enough.

coaxhdufus wrote on February 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

what are your rules for eating an oero cockie too...sheesh

Bear8287 wrote on February 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm

> what are your rules for eating an oero cockie too...sheesh

... I think that this website just lost its PG rating...

Pingeyedoc wrote on February 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm

In last weeks chat, I urged against rushing the court (last question from Edroy).  With the way we finished and the manner in which we did, I am happy to admit I was wrong and would have ruhsed the court in that scenario.  Most of the time though, I would like the team to carry themselves like they belong. 

bukey wrote on February 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I think when you are not favored to win at all. you are a big underdog and you beat #1  I see nothing a wrong with storming the court.

will134 wrote on February 13, 2013 at 11:02 am

Didn't Ohio State fans rush the court when they gave UI its first loss of the 2005 season, which was the last regular season game?