Before examining another Illinois basketball game from last season, the ugly victory against Boise State, I wanted to share this Illini news with you.
Yesterday the regional pairings for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic this November were announced, with Illinois getting home games against UC-Irvine on November 8th and Toledo on November 10th.
The Illini are then guaranteed two games at Madison Square Garden in the classic, which includes Pittsburgh, Texas, Maryland and UIC in this year’s field.
The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic will be a good early-season test for the Illini, and a great chance to show what the team is made of after the disappointment that was 2009-2010.
Let’s hope playing in New York will pay off better than playing in Las Vegas did last season.
Curse that blasted Orleans Arena.
Now on to last season’s Boise State-Illinois game.
Where I Was for This Game: Attending the birthday party of my cousin’s young son. I believe this was the day of the SEC Football Championship between Florida and Alabama, so I didn’t catch much of the Illinois-Boise State game until the end. Essentially, this is my first entire viewing of this game. This was also the day that Illinois football lost to Fresno State, 53-52 at Memorial Stadium. And the day that Turner broke several bones in his back against Eastern Michigan. I also believe the new Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks beat the then Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on this night, though I could be misremembering here.
What I Remember:
● Not much to be honest, besides the Illini struggling mightily to put Boise State away in the second half.
● Feeling a little disappointed after the game in spite of the victory. I was really hoping that the Clemson game would be an early season turning point that taught this team a lesson about playing with focus and energy. Rather, the Illini had a lot of physical and mental breakdowns in this game.
What Surprised Me on Complete Viewing:
● This was the first meeting between the two schools in basketball (thank God it wasn’t football).
● Boise State has seven transfers on its roster.
● Boise State does not have a single player from the state of Idaho.
● Entering this game, Illinois’ D.J. Richardson led all freshmen in the country with a 56.3 shooting percentage from behind the arc.
● How bad this Illinois team was defensively, especially in the first half.
● How much problems Illinois had with Boise State trying to make this game up-tempo, specifically in terms of getting back on defense and containing the dribble.
● How fortunate the Illini were to come out with a victory.
First Half Commentary
Before I get into my observations, here is Boise State’s starting lineup as a reference point.
Boise State (4-2) Starting Lineup
G 11 Anthony Thomas
G 24 La’Shard Anderson
F 21 Robert Arnold
F 3 Ike Okoye
C 50 Kurt Cunningham
Head Coach Greg Graham
● Commentating: Ari Wolfe and former Illini guard Doug Altenberger, who begins the telecast talking about the need for Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale to be more consistent. Good point. Illinois’ last victory against Clemson was one of the rare times that Davis and Tisdale both had good games, though Tisdale was nonexistent in the first half at Littlejohn.
Wolfe talks about how Weber is trying to get this team to mature and is still searching for an on-court leader.
Altenberger says Illini keys to victory include limiting turnovers, a strong start and showing a killer attitude to finish the game. Through the first four minutes, the Illini haven’t complied in those areas. The lack of a killer attitude will be a problem in the second half.
● Bruce Weber: Looking for better approach from his team tonight, but does not get it defensively in the first four minutes. Brings in Cole and Jordan for McCamey and Paul to try and spark some defense. Throws his hands up in the air at under-16 as Boise State throws the ball out of bounds – Weber was not pleased with Tisdale failing to get back under the hoop after a Richardson hoop and BSU’s ability to push the ball so quickly.
Overall, not happy with defense in first half. Calls a timeout with about 2 minutes left as Boise State cuts the game to 40-38 with an up-tempo push. Illinois didn’t get back on that play. Looks upset at half, as the Illini haven’t played with the same type of effort on both ends of the floor.
You can start to get the feel here that something is missing with this team, and that Weber is looking for guys like Jordan and Cole to provide needed energy and to play smart. Would like to see the Illini get the ball inside to Tisdale in the second half, considering his size.
● Offense: Boise State starts in a man-to-man but is expected to switch defenses. Illinois patiently works the motion on first possession, leading to a McCamey jumper at the top of key and a 2-0 lead. Execution from Clemson game is there at the start, as McCamey hits a three on second possession. Illini are slightly thrown off as BSU switches defenses, going from man to zone to even a half-court trap.
Down 11-9 at under-16. Illinois goes up 14-11 with 14 and some change as Richardson is on a personal 7-0 run. At under-12, Illinois is up 22-19 as pace is picking up and Illini are able to do some good things on offense. The Illini are 10-of-18 from the field. However, the other end of the court is another story.
Lead 30-28 at under-8. Offense hasn’t been the problem; the Illini are generally patient against Boise State’s offense and getting good open looks (though they’re not always converting).
At under 4, Illinois leads 37-36. The Illini are shooting roughly 48%. Illinois is 5-for-9 from the three-point line. Out of under 4, Illinois miss several chip shots before Paul hits a three for a 40-36 lead. At 1:55, Illinois has gone cold of late, missing 9 of its last 11 field goals.
Leads 42-38 at the break, with 6 threes. Offense has been fine in terms of getting shots. Illini shoot 41 percent (a bit low for Illinois), with a late drought contributing to these final totals. Illinois does have a 17-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
● Defense: Start off nicely by forcing an air ball and a steal. However, give up offensive rebound on third possession, resulting in a Boise State layup for a 5-2 game. Several breakdowns there. Poor guarding off a screen leads to a Boise State three. Weber’s demand for better defensive effort seems to be unheeded as the Illini look a little sluggish (i.e. a step slow). Boise State ball movement leads to an Arnold three out of the corner and an 8-7 deficit at 16:49.
Boise State wants to push the tempo, which could be a problem and even trap for the Illini. Once again, give up penetration and several offensive rebounds as Boise State gets several three point looks before Cunningham grabs an offensive board, scores and is fouled. Poor job on the defensive glass there – Paul failed to get a body on Cunningham, who makes the free throw. Illinois down 11-7.
Common culprits rear their ugly head again: poor containment, failing to limit possessions to one shot and giving up the three-point shot with too much ease. Inconsistency defines Illinois’ first four minutes on defense.
Cole makes a nice steal out of the under-16. However, he gives up penetration and can’t close out in time as Boise State buries another corner three to tie the game at 14 with 14:02 left. Illinois has really struggled early in the year in guarding the three point shot. Boise State with three threes already. Boise State has a few turnovers themselves in up-tempo offense, but is generally getting open looks against Illini.
Weber is furious as Boise State hits another three at 11:49. Poor effort there by Mike Davis. Off a screen, Davis is lazy to commit on hedging Anderson, who gets an uncontested look.
Illini lead 22-19 at the under-12, but look a bit indifferent defensively. Boise State is making easy post passes over the top of Illini players who are guarding over the top, and the backside help has been slow. Weber can’t be proud of effort thus far. This defensive performance is reminiscent of the Wofford game, when another smaller team was able to get whatever shot it wanted in the first 10 minutes of the half.
At 10:36, the Illini lead 25-23 but are not getting the 50/50 balls. The diminutive Thomas grabs a loose ball among three Illini under the goal and lays the ball up uncontested. The Illini are also struggling with Boise State’s wider bodies down low. At 8:33, Keller nearly makes another over-the-top steal on post feed, but Boise State’s Moritz gets the loose ball ahead of Davis and scores a twisting layup to tie the game at 27. Poor transition defense after a Legion miss as Boise State beats the Illini up the court and draw a foul – leading to two free throws (only one is made) and a 28-27 deficit.
Up 30-28 at the under-eight, though the Illini have broken down all half thus far on this end. It’s early in the season, but this team doesn’t defend like a typical Bruce Weber team. Game is tied at 30 out of under-8 as Boise State hits two free throws. Illinois is clinging to a 37-36 lead at the under 4; however, Boise State is shooting 63% from the field.
While the Broncos have 10 turnovers, most have been committed as part of their own carelessness, rather than anything special that the Illini have done on defense. Illinois leads 42-38 at the half, dodging several bullets on the final Boise State possession as they allow dribble penetration, give up another offensive board and watch a wide open three clank off the back of the rim.
Overall, a really disappointing defensive effort in the first half, especially when you consider that Boise State has 13 turnovers and is only down 4. Illinois gets outscored 14-8 in points in the paint, and only have a one-rebound advantage (18 to 17). Boise State has hit at a 53.8% clip.
● Turnovers: McCamey can’t come up with the hot potato at 18:42 following a steal. Davis later fumbles the ball as the Illini are a bit sloppy. Illinois has been solid with the ball for the most part, though Jordan has a lazy pass stolen at the 7:00 mark. The Illini have five turnovers at the under-4. 6 turnovers at the half, compared to 13 for BSU.
● Demetri McCamey: Cans a nice jumper at the top of the key on the game’s first possession. Nice job of squaring his feet on the play. Already has more points than the Clemson game (2) when he hits a quick three on Illinois’ second possession for a 5-0 lead.
Gets beat on defense during Boise State’s second possession, but makes a nice recovery, stripping the ball, which ends up in D.J. Richardson’s hands. Misses a corner shot with 17:25 against the zone. Pulled for Jordan before the under-16.
A bit lazy on defense as the Boise State defender blows by him at 12:18. Luckily, the ball is dribbled out of bounds. Uses a nice ball fake to bury a jumper at 11:59 for an 18-14 lead. Good pass from Davis out of the middle of the zone to help set up that look.
Beautiful lob pass at halfcourt to Keller with 11:22 remaining gives Illinois 22-19 lead. That’s what you want your point guard to do. Keep your head up and look for guys out in front/see the whole court. Seemed effortless there.
At 10:36, gets beat off the dribble by BSU’s Thomas, who has the ball stripped away. However, with three guys around him, Thomas gets the loose ball and scores a layup for a 25-23 game.
Following a Tyler Griffey hustle play, buries a three at 7:53 to put the Illini back up at 30-28. Great job of moving without the ball, and squaring his body. His shot can look so pure when he is set and in rhythm.
Commits a foul on weak side help to send game to under eight, with Illinois up two. Does not play the rest of the half, which I’m guessing is due to foul trouble (two fouls). 10 points at the break.
● Brandon Paul: Commits an overaggressive foul at 17:58, trying to get into the passing lane to make a steal but eventually running over a BSU player. Does not get shot in first four minutes.
Back in at the under 12, buries his first shot of the game, a rainbow three from the right wing. Illinois up 25-21, and showing good patience against a 1-2-2 zone.
Commits offensive foul on the next possession, off a curl screen, where he is a bit out of control. Certainly an acting job there, but Paul with 2 fouls. Would have been better to pull up for a mid-range jumper.
Back in the game before the under 4, shows his hops on a missed Keller free throw. Gets up and tips the ball in, but the basket is waved off due to basket interference. On the next defensive possession, does a good job moving his feet, leading to a charging foul.
Hits a three with three minutes to go to give Illinois a 40-36 lead. Lines up and misses a three on the next possession, before Davis gets an offensive board (and away with a foul). Paul then drives but misses a layup. He was caught in between there, indecisive on what to do with the ball.
● D.J. Richardson: Quick hands lead to steal on second possession, but his pass to McCamey is not handled and turned over. Misses his first three at 18:00 out of the corner. Was set but couldn’t convert as Boise State went zone on the play.
Gets caught under a screen, which results in a Thomas three at 17:44 at a 5-5 game. Poor job fighting through the screen. Hits a tough two at 15:37 to cut the game to 11-9. Good patience by Illinois there, as Boise State switches back and forth between a 2-3 and 3-2. Nice ball fake allowed Richardson to create some space for pull-up jumper.
Out of under-16, hits a deep three with the shot clock running down low. Feet were set from the right wing as Illinois takes 12-11 lead. Most of his shots thus far this season have been from three, where he’s been hitting at a great clip. Yet you don’t want to fall too in love with the three.
Nice job on the boards as he gets an offensive rebound at 14:19, is fouled and hits both free throws for a 14-11 lead. 7-0 run by Illinois (all from Richardson at this point). Misses his next attempt, which is, you guessed it, a three. Hits two free throws at 9:49 to give Illinois a 27-23 lead.
Bails out Jordan (who is beaten by Thomas) with a charge at 7:08. It is seemingly the first time all half that the Illini have been in the right position on help defense. Out of under 4, has a floater blocked by Okoye. A bit too carefree with that shot.
Overall, good first half. For a freshman in only his seventh game, Richardson is arguably one of the most consistent players on the Illini.
● Mike Davis: Good interior defense on first defensive possession, forcing Okoye off the box and into an air ball. Poor defense on Boise State’s score. After an offensive rebound keeps the Boise State possession alive, Anderson drives the lane where Davis is situated but frozen. Fails to make an effort to stop ball as BSU scores an easy bucket.
Flashing the middle against the 2-3 zone, finds McCamey for an open corner jumper that is missed, but tracks down the offensive rebound. However, he can’t handle a pass from McCamey at the free throw line, leading to a turnover. Luckily, Boise State misses.
On next possession, hits a 15-footer for a 7-5 lead. Misses another mid-range jumper on next possession. Replacing Tisdale at around the 13 minute mark, hits a soft baseline hook to give Illinois a 16-14 lead.
Gives up three points a couple of possessions later as he is lethargic and noncommittal on hedging a screen, resulting in a Boise State three and only an 18-17 lead. Atones for mistake on next end with gorgeous put back against the zone. Cole fed Keller in the middle of the zone, and the senior missed a wild runner before Davis was able to tip the ball in off the glass with his right hand.
The last two plays – one in which Davis shows little effort against a screen and makes a beautiful tip in by hustling – paint a perfect picture of the up-and-down player that Davis tends to be.
At 9:09, misses a rise and fire, mid-range jumper. His offense apparently affects his defense as he immediately allows an easy post entry to Cunningham, who scores a gimme layup to make it 27-25 Illinois.
Hits a field goal after several misses, with a beautiful reverse layup on the baseline at 7:25. Play developed after setting a ball screen for Jordan. Very similar to a reverse he made in the second half against Clemson. Illinois leads 32-30 at the 7:25 mark.
Hits baseline jumper at 6:47 to give Illinois a 34-30 lead. Of course, gives it right back on the other end, as Okoye gets post position and used nifty footwork to bank a shot off the glass for a 34-32 game. Davis had his hands straight up but didn’t slide his feet.
Misses a mid-range jumper at 1:36. Has left some points on the floor and given up his fair share as well. To Davis’ credit, he has been good passing the ball out of the middle of the zone for most of the first half.
● Mike Tisdale: Picks up a holding foul on second defensive possession, playing over the top of the Boise State defender. Gives up offensive rebound that leads to Boise State’s first basket. Does not get a shot in first four minutes.
Gets first post touch at 14:31. Looking to score, puts the ball down once before getting pushed out by a smaller player. Is fouled on the play, but the play is indicative of Tisdale’s lack of a strong base to absorb contact at times.
Tisdale struggling with tempo as Boise State is going smaller and trying to push (reminiscent of Western Kentucky in the 2009 Tournament). Replaced by Davis at 13 minutes.
Does not return in the half as he is not a good fit against this tempo. Second straight game that Tisdale has done nothing in the first half. Is not made for this type of pace, and has too many games where he is nonexistent for too long. Sometimes this is Tisdale’s fault; other timers, it’s an Illini failing, specifically forgetting to feed the big man.
● Jeff Jordan: With Cole, enters game at 16:11 for McCamey. Misses for the first time in the season at 14:19. Good job getting back on defense after Richardson miss with under 13 mintues left.
Back in the game at under 8. Looks bad in this spurt, allowing dribble penetration, turning the ball on a lazy pass, and leaving his feet for no reason. Luckily, Davis bails him out, catches the pass and scores. Nearly turns the ball over on next possession, which eventually results in a turnover and Boise State transition jumper that ties the game at 34 with 5:57 left.
Why is McCamey not back on the floor at this point? Even with two fouls, McCamey is worth having on the floor as Jordan’s play tends to drop when pressed into extended minutes.
Out of the under 4, makes a nice drive but misses a close layup. At 2:32, plays great interior defense, deflecting a pass under the hoop.
● Bill Cole: With Jordan, enters game at 16:11 for Paul. Out of under-16 plays nice help side defense to force a turnover, with Davis playing over the top of his defender. Nice hustle play following a Jordan miss in crashing the boards, eventually missing the tip but allowing Richardson to get a board himself.
Is late again on the help side, fouling BSU’s Cunningham to take the game to the under-12. Cunningham will make two free throws. Back in the game after under 8.
Nice hustle play at 1 minute. Tipping out a missed Richardson three, ultimately extending a possession that results in a Keller dunk.
● Dominique Keller: Comes in at 14:29 to replace Davis. Misses three around 13:14 but Tisdale gets rebound before committing an offensive foul. Poor job fronting Okoye at 11:24 (with Cole late on backside help) leads to an easy layup for the visitors and a 20-19 game.
Makes up for defensive lapse by running the floor, getting behind the Boise State defense and hitting a layup off a lob from McCamey. Good control, securing the ball and banking a shot. Getting some good run here as Tisdale has not look suited for this game.
Nice over-the-top ball denial and steal at 9:35 with Illini up four. Nearly turns the ball on other end with a wild drive.
Back in just before the under 4, gets an energy offensive rebound and draws a foul. Misses both free throws though at 4:05. Emphatic baseline dunk with 27.4 seconds left off nice pass from Davis (gives Illinois a 42-38 lead).
Can be productive at times, and then maddening at other times. Needs to provide more stability as lone scholarship senior.
● Alex Legion: Enters at 10:11, replacing Paul with two fouls. Quickly gets a defensive rebound. Misses a three point attempt at 8:50. On next possession, misses a wide-open jumper on the baseline. Looked tentative there and unsure what to do, as if he had second thoughts. Was wide open and needs to be ready shoot when he’s not just behind the three-point line.
Altenberger says that Cole and Legion are competing for minutes. Cole is showing that he can do the little things well, while Legion has failed to live up to his alleged strength, shooting the ball.
In Legion’s defense, Weber does seem to have a quick hook with the kid, who just hasn’t won over the coach’s confidence yet.
● Tyler Griffey: Replaces Keller at 8:21. Immediately makes a hustle play at 8:03. After Davis misses a one-handed shot, comes from behind the Boise State rebounder to knock the ball off the opponent and maintain possession with the Illini.
At 6:56, does a nice job getting back on defense after a Jordan pass is stolen. Griffey intercepts a lob pass from Thomas. The steal ultimately leads to a Davis baseline floater and 34-30 Illinois lead. This is what is meant about defense creating offense.
Does a good job crashing the boards at 5:57, once again knocking the ball out of bounds of a Boise State defender. Fails to box out on ensuing defensive possession, leading to Boise State offensive rebound and eventual Okoye jumper.
Boise State leads 36-34 at this point, but Griffey responds on the other end with a corner three, for a 37-36 Illini lead. Hustles back and helps force a turnover on a post pass. Griffey is then replaced by Keller.
Good action for Griffey in spot minutes in first half. Still not there defensively, but he’s playing with some urgency at least.
Second Half Commentary
● Commentating: After an early Tisdale block, the play-by-play guy says it’s danger time for Boise State, down 6. McCamey hits a three to put the Illini up 9 at 19 minutes, and it would seem to be danger time. However, the Illini will be a team in danger late in the game.
At 2:39, the Illini are clinging to a six point lead when Altenberger calls the last two Illini possessions “poor” due to turnovers. He compares this bad execution to the end of the Bradley loss, and then brings up that game again just seconds later when Brandon Paul takes a terrible three early in the shot clock.
With a minute left and Boise State down only two, the play-by-play guy says that “You can feel the tension in Assembly Hall.” Illinois has no one but itself to blame for this, as the Illini have failed to put this game away in the final minutes.
● Bruce Weber: Up nine a minute into the second half, and coming off a BSU timeout, extends to full court, man-to-man pressure. Doesn’t result in a turnover but is a really good ploy to give the Broncos something else to think about and a smart effort to try and create some havoc.
Has a quick trigger with Paul, who is late on a closeout for a BSU three and puts up a quick runner. Goes to Bill Cole.
At under-16, has Jordan in for McCamey, and the Illini are a bit sloppy against the zone. Have to wonder why Jordan is in for McCamey here. It’s early in the year, and Weber’s tough love with McCamey is especially apparent here. According to Altenberger, Weber wants McCamey to pick up the effort and leadership with Chester Frazier gone.
Good job of bringing in Tisdale at 10:25 with the pace picking up, and Illinois needing to bring this game back to a half-court game marked by interior touches.
Up 10 with 8:39 to go, Weber comes out of a Boise State timeout and plays some 2-3 zone. Not much of a proponent of the zone, Weber has used it more with this team, which has been surprising given his emphasis on man-to-man principles. The Illini (Paul) commits a foul on the possession, and Weber goes back to the man, which gives up an open jumper to some Boise State player with the last name Montreal.
Takes a 20-second timeout at 5:54 in the second half after Illinois commits two sloppy turnovers (instead of making simpler passes that likely would have led to easy baskets). Nothing, including protecting and extending a lead, is easy with this Illini team early in ’09-10.
Takes out a winded McCamey and also Tisdale just before the under-4 timeout, bringing in Richardson and Griffey. The move doesn’t pay off as Griffey turns the ball over and commits a foul on the break after a Boise State bucket. Illinois is up 74-68 at the under-4 with Boise State at the line to complete the three-point play. Weber was trying to steal a possession there, but it didn’t work.
Out of under-four, returns with his starting lineup. Is befuddled by a quick Paul three with two minutes left and the Illini only up six.
Calls a smart timeout after Boise State buries a three on the ensuing possession to cut the game to three. Illinois’ offense isn’t getting the job done here in the last couple of minutes, failing to run good motion while working the clock. The timeout works and results in an open baseline jumper from Tisdale, who cans it for a five-point lead. Good job by Weber there.
Calls another timeout with 36.5 seconds left (and 12 on the shot clock), with the Illini looking stagnant on offense and up only three points. Illinois gets an open look out of the timeout for Davis, whose mid-range jumper goes in and out. Luckily, Tisdale saves the day with an offensive tip in and a 4-point lead (78-74) with 26.5 seconds left.
After McCamey hits a pair of free throws with 18.6 seconds left, extending the game to four, Weber substitutes offense for defense when bringing Cole in for McCamey. Cole immediately fouls out, getting called for a blocking foul under the basket. It looked like a charge, but Cole leaned in a bit. Home team usually gets that call. Boise State makes one of two free throws and Tisdale gets the rebound before being fouled (with Illinois up 80-77 with 14.9 seconds left.
Needlessly brings Bubba Chisolm in with 4.9 seconds left and the Illini up 7, but does not play Richard Semrau at all or Legion in the second half.
Overall, Weber must feel lucky that Illinois won this game, but can’t be happy at all. The defense was terrible in the first half, the offense struggled late, and the on-court decision making in the final minutes was brutal in spurts. Good use of two timeouts with under 2 minutes left led to Illini buckets.
● Defense: Get a turnover and block on first two possessions. BSU’s Anderson hits a three out of timeout to cut the game to 6 at 47-41. Good spacing and ball movement by BSU. Paul was late on closeout.
Illinois has a transition lapse on next possession, with Cunningham getting a good touch down low and being fouled by Richardson. Illinois up 47-42 with 18:14 left.
Good feet movement on next possession as Illinois cuts off two drives and eventually forces a turnover.
Tisdale with a couple of blocks as Illinois lead 52-46 at under-16. Defense has been a little better in the half court, but the Illini struggle in terms of sustaining good defense for long stretches at a time. Illinois also not going from offense to defense quick enough. Boise State is a bit careless at times when rushing the ball, but is hanging in.
Illinois is a bit lucky out of the break, as Jordan does not contain Arnold, who blows into the lane and feeds a teammate for an open three that is missed. Failing to box out, Illinois nearly gives up a tip dunk.
Up 54-48 after a Tisdale bucket, Illinois immediately gives up an interior pass to Cunningham, who makes a nice pass out of the double to a wide open cutting Okoye, who lays the ball inside. Once again, Illinois transition and rotation defense leaves a lot to be desired early in the season.
Up 57-50 after McCamey three, Illinois seem to pick it up, playing good help and position defense, and moving their feet, leading to a turnover. Defense has been better in the second half, but that’s not saying much when looking back at the first half.
Illinois leads 61-54 at the under 12, but BSU’s Okoye is starting to pick it up with two straight buckets. Boise State not going away, with its up-tempo game.
Illinois has held every opponent to under 45% on the season; Boise State is shooting 55.3% at the under-12. Okoye is giving the Illini trouble around the free throw line area, catching the ball there and making a nice post pass for a BSU layup and 61-56 game.
Illinois is fortunate as well, as Boise State gets up and down on several possessions but fails to convert. Boise State is establishing the tempo with 10 minutes left and taking the crowd out of the game.
Game is down to 62-58 at 10 minutes off a McCamey turnover and poor job getting back by him and Keller, leading to a Boise State layup.
Illinois has pulled out to a 10-point lead with less than nine minutes to go, as Keller has forced two turnovers and hit two easy buckets, a dunk and layup. It’s important for Illinois to continue to have recent defensive intensity and put this game away, rather than letting this pesky Boise State team hang around any longer.
Lead by six (74-68) at the under-4, with Boise State heading to the line. Boise State won’t go away, and the Illini won’t put them away. The Broncos have missed a couple of open threes here, so the Illini should feel a bit lucky this game isn’t closer. Still, not doing a good job of putting this one in the bag. Better wake up in the final four minutes because Boise State isn’t quitting.
Really nice effort by Tisdale with about two minutes left. Illinois leads by six with Boise State late in a possession and Tisdale having found himself on Thomas. He blocks the shot, which deflects to another Boise State player. Tisdale hustles over to disrupt the three-point shot with his length, and the Illini grab the board.
Boise State is 1-for-6 from three in the second half, until Thomas comes back on the next possession and cans one to cut the game to 74-71 with 1:40 left. That possession was set up by a rushed shot by Paul with about 30 seconds left on the Illini shot clock. Illinois is living dangerously.
After a Tisdale jumper gives Illinois a 5-point lead with 1:10 left, the Illini don’t get back in time, as Boise State’s Arnold buries a corner three to cut the game to two (76-74) with 59.6 seconds left. Once again, not back quick enough and too much dribble penetration.
I’m convinced that Illinois is going to find a way to lose this game when McCamey provides no resistance to Thomas, who drives through the lane and hits an uncontested layup to cut the Illini lead to 78-76 with 20.2 seconds left.
Up 82-77, Illinois looks like it will survive when Boise State turns the ball over with 9.7 seconds left. Richardson hits two free throws and Boise misses a half-court heave.
Illinois survives 84-77 but didn’t win this game because of its defense.
● Offense: Good motion offense on first possession leads to open three that is missed by Paul. However, Tisdale and Davis get on the boards, with Davis eventually coming up with the rebound and putback for a 44-38 lead. 5-0 run in first minute gives Illinois a 9-point lead and prompts a Boise State timeout. Illinois with 13-2 run since 4:51 lead in first half.
Illinois starts struggling a bit as BSU switches from zone to man. Not being patient enough on several possessions. Got to work the ball into the middle and side to side.
Take a 52-46 lead when Davis flashes middle and hits a jumper (plus the foul), leading to under-16. Offense not as crisp in first four minutes.
At 13:56, Richardson, McCamey and Davis have 39 points on 15/29 field goals. The rest of the Illini have 15 points on 33 percent shooting (6/18).
Up 54-50 with 13:43, Illinois is finally looking to Tisdale in the post, having drawn two straight fouls. Boise State with 5 team fouls, Illinois with 1 at this point. Illinois is seemingly picking it up offensively with a 61-54 lead at the under-12, but can’t put together a consistent stretch on both ends to extend this game.
Up 68-58 with less than nine minutes left as Keller has provided a nice spark. It’s time for Illinois to put this game away on both ends of the court.
With 8:27 to go, Illinois has only two team fouls in the second half compared to 8 for Boise State. It will be key for Illinois to continue to go inside and put pressure on Boise State, with the hope of further extending this lead at the line.
Up 74-68 at the under-4. Feel like the Illini should be up bigger, but they are failing to hit some open shots and also throwing in some sloppy turnovers as well.
Game is down to three with 1:19 left, as Illinois is making some poor decisions in the half court, with a McCamey turnover and rushed Paul three really standing out.
Tisdale makes two big plays, a baseline jumper and offensive tip-in to help Illinois gain a 78-74 lead with 26.5 seconds left.
Illinois is able to salt way the game at the free throw line, eventually winning 84-77.
Overall, the offense was good for most of the first half but parts of the second. Every starter was in double figures and Keller had eight off the bench. However, Griffey was the only other Illini to score off the pine, with a three-point make in the first half.
● Turnovers: Bad McCamey turnover against the zone leads to a 47-44 game with 16:35 to go. McCamey turns the ball over again on a travel with 16:11 left. That was actually Richardson’s fault as he threw a pass in the transition to McCamey while the junior wasn’t looking.
Out of under 16, the Illini play too fast when Richardson steps on the baseline while trying to attack from the corner. Sloppy defensively in the first half, the Illini are starting to play sloppy on offense, with another Richardson turnover (this time on a terrible pass against the zone) leading to an Arnold steal and fastbreak layup for a 52-48 game with 14:57 to go.
Game is getting a bit out of control at the under-11 mark as both teams get up and down on four consecutive possessions, with several travels (one on Okoye, one on McCamey) not called.
Illinois seemingly falling into the lure of this type of game, rather than slowing it down, running some offense and getting the ball into the interior.
Bad McCamey turnover at 10 minutes, leads to BSU break and four-point game. What’s more disturbing is that McCamey and Keller fail to get to the loose ball and don’t get back on defense quick enough.
Poor decision-making by McCamey at 6:26 is the difference between a 12-point Illini lead versus a 10-point lead. After Mike Davis makes a steal at half court, McCamey gets the ball and runs the break. With Davis on the left wing and ready for an easy slam, McCamey takes one too many dribbles and gets caught in the air before making a pass that is too difficult for Davis to handle. What should have been an easy dunk is an Illini turnover. Got to put away a team when the opportunity is there.
Illini ball movement at 5:54 should result in an easy Tisdale shot from about three feet, but the big guy also tries to get too cute. He makes an unnecessary pass to Cole, who can’t handle as the ball sails out of bounds. Once again, Illini being too cute rather than making the smart play. Consequently, Illinois is not pulling away. What could be a 14-point game is down to eight with Boise State getting the ball.
Amazingly, a Griffey turnover leads to a Boise State layup and chance for a three-point play at the under-4. Illinois clings to a six point lead out of the under-4 as Boise State thankfully misses the freebie.
The Illini seem intent on giving this game away, as McCamey turns the ball over on first offensive possession out of under-4. Luckily, Paul hustles back to knock an Anderson layup attempt out of bounds.
McCamey almost takes a five second call while inbounding the ball with 20.2 seconds left and Illinois up two. Luckily, calls a timeout with about 4.5 seconds left.
One word describes Illinois tonight: sloppy. The Illini have 16 turnovers and plenty of bad decisions to boot, ultimately allowing Boise State to hang in this game until the final 9 seconds.
● Demetri McCamey: Boise State starts with the ball in second half, and McCamey immediately gives up baseline to Arnold, who blows by him but turns the ball over.
Hits a transition three from the wing on Illinois’ second possession, with the play started by a Tisdale block. Has 13 points and is efficient when picking his spots to look to score.
Misses a deep three against BSU’s switching 2-3/3-2 zone with just under 18 minutes. That shot was a bit of a heave; Illinois could have benefitted from more patience.
Terrible decision when he tries to make a bounce pass through the zone to a back-cutting Cole. Trying to thread the needle there when the play wasn’t for the taking. Boise State gets a steal and score, as McCamey plays poor transition defense, letting the BSU player blow by him for a layup. 47-44 game.
Comes back in at 13:56, along with Paul. Hits a three 22 seconds later against the zone. Has a quiet 16 points. Once again, his shot can look so effortless when McCamey gets good lift. Illinois up 57-50 with 13:34 to go.
On the next possession, he misses a quick but open look off a screen. I have no problem with that look – McCamey needs to be a bit more assertive in terms of looking for his points early in the season. He already has an efficient 16 points, mostly off of shots that patiently came out of the offense.
Hits one of two free throws at 11:13 for his 17th point and a 62-56 lead. Makes a great assist to Tisdale with less than 8 minutes left, threading a screen and roll with a sharp pass that leads to a dunk.
Bad turnover at 6:26, when he makes a sloppy (and too fancy) pass to Davis, who can’t control the ball. Make the easy play instead of the tough one.
Hits a smooth floater in the lane to push the Illini lead to 72-64. Good patience by the Illini, with crisp ball movement against the zone. Worked the shot clock there and got a great look.
Off a missed Boise State three, pushes on the next possession for an easy layup and 10-point lead. Good job of pushing there. However, gives back a basket immediately as he is easily beaten into the lane by Anderson, who hits his own floater. 74-66 Illinois.
Breaks down the zone on the next possession, gets into the lane. He is caught in the air but finds Davis for an open jumper that is missed.
Out of under-4, with Illinois up six after a Boise State missed free throw, makes a dumb pass with the shot clock running down. While his intentions are right in trying to hit an open Brandon Paul in the corner, McCamey gets caught in the air and has his pass stolen.
Has 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field (4-for-5 from three) but Illinois needs him to be a stabilizer with 1:20 left and the Illini clinging to just a three-point lead.
Illinois shooting 50% from the line (5-for-10) with 18.6 seconds left as McCamey has the chance to extend a 78-76 lead. McCamey hits the first of the one and one and swishes the second as Tisdale is seen in between free throws holding his hands in prayer. McCamey with clutch free throws and a season-high 23 points on the night.
Only 2 assists though. It seems that McCamey is going to either give you a lot of assists or points, but not both. Needs to play with more overall intensity out there, even though he had himself a good scoring night.
● Brandon Paul: Misses an open corner three on Illinois’ first possession. Good job moving without the ball, catching the ball, squaring and getting into his shot, which rimmed in and out. Misses a runner in the lane with 18:20 left and the Illini up 6.
Replaced by Weber on ensuing possession for Cole. Missed a defensive closeout that resulted in BSU three.
Nice attack of the offensive glass at 12:53 nearly leads to tip in off McCamey miss.
Picks up an offensive foul against Okoye at 12:16 and then follows up with a nice layup on a solid cut and pass from Keller. Great footwork there in the post, using a step through to get an open look. On the next offensive possession, makes an opportunistic and beautiful over-the-shoulder pass to Keller. Great job of attacking the gaps in the zone there. Keller is fouled, leading to the under-12.
Forces and hits a tough baseline banker at 9:51 to extend the Illini lead to 64-58. One of the plays where you’re initially going no, but say yes when it goes in. Don’t know if Illinois wants to play this tempo with BSU, though.
Replaces Cole at 5:36.
Great hustle and defensive recovery at 2:36 as he races down court to block an Anderson layup out of bounds after a McCamey turnover. Incredible pursuit and athleticism there, similar to his block against Clemson.
With Illinois up 6 after Tisdale’s blocks, Paul takes a terribly quick three at 2 minutes. He bricks it, and Boise State gets the rebound. Illinois could have milked some clock there. A freshman mistake if there ever was one.
Finishes with 10 points on the game.
● D.J. Richardson: Lines up, measures and hits a corner three against the zone to put Illinois up 50-44 at 16:30. Was a bit hesitant with that shot but was able to score.
Leaves McCamey out to dry with a bad pass in the transition, ultimately resulting in a McCamey turnover.
At 15:23, steps out of bounds on a baseline drive. Richardson and Jordan were guilty of playing too fast on that possession. Commits another turnover on next possession, with a careless crosscourt pass to Jordan out of the zone. Quiet the rest of the half.
Makes a smart play with 9 seconds left. With Illinois up five and inbounding the ball, McCamey throws the ball down to Richardson, who could go up for a dunk but rather dribbles the ball out and burns some time before getting fouled. Hits both free throws to put Illinois up 84-77 with 4.9 seconds left and seal the game.
Finishes with 14 points, 7 of which came in a quick spurt in the first half.
● Mike Davis: Good work on the offensive boards at the start, with a rebound and score to put Illinois up 6 at 19:23. 12 points for Davis.
At 15:55, gives up a two to Okoye on the interior. Nice high low pass from BSU’s Cunningham. Still, Davis provided little resistance in post defense on that play. Illinois up 50-46 at this point.
Davis immediately responds on the other end, flashing in the middle of the zone and hitting a mid-range jumper while fouled. Out of the under 16, misses a free throw.
Cans an open baseline jumper to give Illinois a 59-52 lead with 12:23 left. Nice job by the Illini, in terms of ball movement and patience against the zone.
Gets his 10th rebound and fourth double-double of the season with a defensive board out of the under -8 timeout.
Misses a half hook on the next possession. Active on three straight Illini possessions as he steals a Boise State pass at half court and initiates a fast break. However, he is unable to finish at the rim due to a sloppy pass from McCamey.
Interesting note: As of this game, Davis is second in the Big Ten in double-doubles since 2008-2009. His 13 double doubles are just two behind Ohio State’s Evan Turner, who we know will go on to have a monster junior season, especially against Illinois.
Finished with 16 and 12, but missed 11 field goals. Not one of his best efforts defensively. One of those games where he look disinterested at times while playing great in brief spurts.
● Mike Tisdale: Blocks a Cunningham shot on second possession, which sparks a transition three for McCamey.
Following a Paul miss at 18:17, has a chance to get the offensive rebound, but taps at the ball instead of grabbing it. A smaller Boise State player gets the board; when you’re seven feet, you need to grab the ball.
Good job at 17:11, getting post position on Cunningham and drawing a foul on the stronger but smaller big man.
Gets second block of the second half at 16:21 when he bails out Illinois’ poor job of getting back after Richardson three. Nice job of protecting the goal there, especially at what looked like it was going to be an easy BSU score.
At under-16, has not got a shot. Illinois needs to get the ball to Tisdale, who has been working for position from block to block.
Good post position at 15:11, drawing a charging foul on Cunningham.
Finally gets a touch at 14:21 and hits on a baseline fade away jumper. Good job of absorbing contact on the catch and controlling the ball. His first field goal of the game (nearly 26 minutes in) gives Illinois a 54-48 lead.
Illinois go back to Tisdale on next possession, and he draws a foul on Cunningham (his fourth).
Plays a nice seven-minute stretch at the start of the second half. While only with two points, he is starting to have a presence with several blocks and the Illini getting the ball to him in the post and accumulating BSU fouls.
Comes back at 10:25 as the pace has picked up and Illinois is in need of a slower tempo. Nice screen and roll game with McCamey leads to a dunk and 10-point lead at 7:51. Nice job of slipping the screen by Tisdale, and a great find by McCamey. Tisdale with just four points but was strong with the ball there when attacking the rim.
Allows too easy of a basket at the 6-minute mark, as Boise State’s backup big man Moritz gets position, catches in the lane and hits a half-hook over the 7-1 Illini center. Use the length God gave you. A bit too passive there, Tisdale needs to provide more resistance and at least throw his hands up in the air.
On next Illini possession, Tisdale gets a great feed from Davis in the zone. With a 3-foot shot on the baseline, Tisdale tries to get too cute and hit Cole on the opposite side. Rather, he throws the ball out of bounds.
Great urgency and use of his length at the 2 minute mark, as he blocks a Boise State three and then hustles to alter the trajectory of another three.
Hits a big baseline jumper with 1:10 left to push a narrow three-point lead to five (76-71).
Follows up with a huge tip-in of a Davis jumper, to give Illinois a four-point lead (78-74) with 26.5 seconds left.
Secures a big defensive rebound off a Boise State missed free throw with 14.9 seconds left, and then hits two free throws to put Illinois up 82-77.
Like the Clemson game, Tisdale makes some big plays late. Finishes with 10 points but just 4 rebounds.
With that said, did not do anything in the first half. In his defense, is also a victim of not getting enough touches.
Was 4-for-4 from the field. Should have had a minimum of 10-12 shots against smaller Boise State. Needs to be more assertive and Illinois needs to find him the ball.
● Bill Cole: First sub off the bench, at 18:14. Pretty much serves the role of a passer against the BSU zone.
In the game at under-8, and commits a foul. Right away on the offensive end, he gets an over-the-back foul. Commits a third quick foul at 5:38 when he is a bit late on a charge attempt against Okoye, who hits two free throws to cut the Illinois deficit to 70-64. Replaced by Paul.
Brought into the game with 18.6 seconds left and the Illini up four. Nearly takes a charge (should have been) but is called for a foul.
He fouls out with 0 points. His hustle game doesn’t translate tonight.
● Jeff Jordan: Checks in for McCamey at under-16, and is immediately burned by Arnold. Luckily, BSU misses an open three off penetration and a dunk attempt off an offensive board.
Out of control on ensuing Illinois possession, as he overdribbles and kicks to Richardson in the corner, who drives baseline and steps out of bounds. Playing too fast for his own good there.
At 5:30 of the second half, nearly dribbles the Illini into a 10-second violation.
Comes in defensively late in the game. Plays 17 minutes and has 3 assists.
● Dominique Keller: Comes in for Tisdale at 12:53. Gets fouled off a nice pass from Paul. Shooting two free throws out of the under-12, and bricks both.
Nearly turns the ball over on the next possession, with McCamey bailing his dangerous pass out.
Gets a two-hand slam at 9:42 off a steal in the BSU frontcourt; nice job of having active hands while hedging a screen. Illinois up 66-58.
Following dunk, causes Okoye to turn the ball. It actually looked the ball was off Keller, but the Illini get the beneficial call.
On next possession, makes an aggressive and under-control drive from the top of the key for a right-handed layup and a 68-58 Illinois lead with under 9 minutes to go. Good body control there in the lane.
Misses a layup that leads to the under-8 timeout. A good job of filling the lane on the break there, but got hung up in the air a bit. Actually, Keller was in-between laying the ball in and dunking it, and his indecision (and bad angle for a banker) cost him a makeable bucket.
Does not play the rest of the half, and finishes with 8 points of the bench. Brought some good energy, but made his fair share of mistakes like many Illini on this night.
● Tyler Griffey: Comes in for the first time in the half, just before the under-4.
Passes up on an open shot in the lane and turns the ball over, leading to a Boise State break. Commits a foul on the ensuing play, resulting in a chance for a BSU three-point play.
Doesn’t play the rest of the way.
● Bubba Chisholm: Comes in at 4.9 seconds left of a close but secure victory. Not sure why Weber decided to put him in besides appeasing the crowd. The Illini didn’t deserve such a moment after nearly giving this game away.
Play of the Game: With so many breakdowns in this game, my play of a frustrating game comes with 14.8 seconds. The Illini lead by three with Boise State shooting a second free throw. Off the miss, Tisdale boxes out and grabs the rebound, preventing a Boise State board and chance to tie the game from beyond the arc. Tisdale will hit both free throws to push the lead to five, and the Illini will win by seven. Rarely does a box out make the play of the game, but that’s how bad this game was fundamentally for the Illini, which improves to 6-2 but could easily be 4-4.
Overall: Illinois nearly gives this one way but survives 84-77 due to two big hoops from Tisdale and clutch shooting at the foul line. Still, this is not an encouraging win following the Clemson comeback. The Illini play well in spurts, but are inconsistent for most of the game. This team is lacking a clear leader, especially with Chester Frazier and Trent Meacham gone, and does not seem to learn from its mistakes. If there was one more minute in this game, Boise State may have won, despite 23 turnovers on the road. Illinois should take a deep breath, but a lot of work needs to be done.
Not too many.
● Illinois did go six-from-six from the line in the final minute.
Way too many to list.
● Poor decision making all night.
● Not enough touches for Tisdale.
● Careless turnovers.
● An inability to close a game that could have been won in the teens.
● Lack of defensive concentration for most of the first half and late in the second half.
● Failure to learn from previous mistakes.
● Inconsistent effort.
● Difficulties getting from offense to defense and containing the dribble.
Game MVP: Bruce Weber
Too many mental mistakes by all of the Illini for me to name a player of the game. McCamey was 8-11 from the field and 4-for-5 from three, but a point guard is supposed to guide the team on the court. The Illini simply made too many mental mistakes in this one. With that said, I would give the nod to Weber, who may have burned his timeouts at the end but got two scores late in the game to hold onto a slim margin. While Tisdale was clutch late in the game, he wasn’t a factor in the first half.
Well, that’s it for another Illini Tale of the Tape.
Of the first four, this was definitely the worst game to review thus far (once again, I did not record the Utah or Bradley games).
Against Presbyterian, the Illini rolled to a win.
Against Wofford, the Illini pulled away late.
Against Clemson, the Illini showed character.
Against Boise State, the Illini won. That’s about all I can say.
Until tomorrow, when I review Vanderbilt vs. Illinois.
Topics: Alex Legion, Assembly Hall, Bill Cole, Boise State Basketball, Brandon Paul, Bruce Weber, Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic, D.J. Richardson, Demetri McCamey, Dominique Keller, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Jeff Jordan, Jeffrey Jordan, Jimmy V Classic, Madison Square Garden, Maryland Terrapins Basketball, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, Pittsburgh Panthers Basketball, Richard Semrau, Texas Longhorns Basketball, Tyler Griffey, U-of-I Basketball, UIC Flames Basketball, University Of Illinois