By Joe Kutsunis / HailtotheOrange.com / SBNation.com
Well then, that was a satisfyingly one sided affair wasn't it? Keeping in mind that Toledo may very well be the least talented team we will face all year (and that includes the preseason) the Illini did not disappoint or relent in their very one sided victory last night. As you may remember, I had some expectations laid out for just how the Illini should go about rolling the Rockets. Let's examine that list, shall we?
- Not too many minutes for the senior core. Check Demetri McCamey, 18 minutes, Mike Davis, 18 minutes, Mike Tisdale 15 minutes. I was so happy to see the game get out of reach for Toledo so quickly last night, not because I knew the Illini would win, but because it Bruce a chance to rest the team's most important pieces for SIU, which will be the third game in six days.
- Crush them early and don't let up or pull up in the second half. Check. The Illini outscored Toledo by 29 points in the first half, and out scored them by 10 points in the second half. The first half was so one sided, that if the Illini had not showed up for the second half at all, they still would have won by 2 points. In every category, the Illini dominated, rebounding, assists and turnovers, which is as it should be.
- Second and third line get plenty of minutes, and play well. Check. The Illini went eleven deep last night, with everyone other than walk-on Kevin Beradini getting into double digit minutes, every Illini player scored. Brandon Paul got extended minutes at the point, and has apparently assumed the mantle of primary back up for point guard duties, and looked pretty good there, you know, 7 boards, 3 assists, 8 points (all from inside the arc) and 5 steals, I will take that every game, thank you.
As for other second line players of note, Jereme Richmond got 27 minutes of experience, scored 8 points and perhaps more importantly grabbed 3 offensive boards, his play around the rim from the guard position is going to be crucial this year and is quite refreshing to see from an Illini.
Meyers Leonard deserves a bit of spotlight as well, and not just because of how well he played in his 22 minutes (10 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks) but the way he carried himself. Meyers looks like he is pushing his teammates as freshman, and more importantly looks like he is enjoying himself. He is going to be a great player in Champaign and he seems to at least so far remember that basketball is a really effing fun game to play. I hope he can hold on to that as long as possible, this team needs levity.
All in all, it was a fully satisfactory win over an over matched opponent. I hope to see many more like it.
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