Illini Beat UC Irvine, Look Strong on Offense, Weak on Defense
Remember, this is the year of the high expectations and the low tolerance for excuses, but that said, this is one game and we shouldn't read into it too much. The Illini did take care of business and looked dominant in the first half against the visiting Anteaters from UC Irvine. Led by Brandon Paul's hot three point shooting, which we can officially credit to BP's breakfast of waffles and orange juice, the Illini rolled off six threes in the first half and held the Anteaters to only 18 first half points. The second half was much more balanced between the two teams in terms of scoring, as the Illini seemed to look vulnerable, once again to driving in the lane and giving up cheap fouls.
In the first half the Illini held UC Irvine to just 23% shooting from the field, but relaxed in the second half to 43%, as a result the Illini were outscored by ten points after the court change. Defense is going to be, as always, a focal point for Weber with this years team, especially inside the paint. The advantage always goes to the team that drives the lane, and that is especially so when the defending team has a tendency to get into position late.
You don't want to complain too much about the defense when the Illini win by 14, but the poor free throw shooting and fourteen turnovers bailed the Illini out tonight absolutely.
Other than that, what can be said? The Illini have more length, and talent, and can go much deeper than UC Irvine, to beat them by double digits is expected. Tisdale, McCamey and Davis all had double digit points and played 25 minutes plus. When they play well the team will do well, and that will remain true all season. Case in point: points from the starting five :48 Points off of the bench 30, 18 of which were from Brandon Paul.
Jereme Richmond and Bill Cole are now seemingly at parity in terms of minutes, as the season moves along, if Jereme continues in the manner he has, and gets his legs under him, I imagine he will over take Bill "effort" Cole by the end of the New York trip.
This is a rolling post game update, so every couple minutes hit refresh and see what new nuggets we get from Coach Bruce Weber's post game presser.
Bruce: The first half is what we had envisioned, getting steals, getting tips and locking defense. The second half there was a bad warm up and it reflected in how we played.
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