2. Illinois’ help defense was nearly nonexistent
Illinois was going up against one of the best teams in the country on Saturday. Notre Dame is a well-oiled machine that knows where each other is going to be, and this helps them put a ton of points on the board.
The Illini also helped Notre Dame score points. Illinois’ perimeter defense wasn’t terrible against the Irish. While there were a few issues about closing out strongly, I didn’t have much of an issue with how the Illini played on the perimeter. It was the help defense that bothered me the most.
When Notre Dame would start going downhill, Illinois would fold. Hannah Hidalgo is a tremendous guard, but when she gets past our first level of defense, she wasn’t bothered much all game long. She was able to get into the lane, and then Illinois’ help defense just wasn’t there.
Even when the Illini did have a player come over to help, they were always late. There were multiple times I noticed this with Camille Hobby. She would eventually come over to help out, but it would be too late and would cause a foul on Illinois.
There are things Illinois can’t help. Notre Dame was just bigger, faster, and stronger than the Illini. But one thing we can control is the fundamentals. I hope help defense is something we work on over the next week or so as we look to finish the non-conference out on a high note.