Thursday, December 3, 2009

Miracle on Littlejohn (Stealing Nate's Thunder with another Illini Post)

Maybe it was that the Illini guards decided to stop picking up their dribble in the second half, or perhaps it was that Mike Tisdale finally started to get a feel for the pace of the game and, at the same time, gained a good 100 pounds of physical presence. Whatever it was, Illinois took advantage of what seemed to be a Clemson team drunk off a first-half conquest, and left Littlejohn Coliseum with a victory.

There are so many compelling storylines and thoughts that can be derived from last night that I’ll take the lazy approach and throw out some bullet points (who needs transition sentences anyway!)

-The magnitude of this game cannot be understated. Not only was it a fantastic win over a top 25 team on the road, but a loss could have severely dampened Illinois chances of getting a tourney bid. If Illinois loses that game, they would almost certainly have to win all of their remaining non-conference games to have a shot at anything above an 8 or 9 seed come March (barring a superb Big Ten season)

-I am so excited to see the new Bruce Webber finally emerge! Not only are we seeing a deep bench (something that probably should have been adopted a while back) we also were blessed with a little defensive variety – the elusive Weber zone. If Bruce can continue to utilize all of his role players and make opposing coaches prepare for more than one defensive set, things could get interesting.

-I find it a bit scary that this games ending was very similar to the last year’s Clemson vs. Illinois match up. 76-74 score, home-team loses, trailing team squanders last possession opportunity… cue the spooky music.

-If Illinois would have lost, it would have meant that DJ Richardson lost three games in a row after going an entire season at Findlay Prep undefeated

-The progression of Bill Cole has been wonderful and fun to watch (somebody owes me money for this one)

-If Alex Legion could learn how to be an effective and consistent 8-12 minutes-a-game spot shooter, while Illinois slips into a zone defense, this team could truly be scary.

-BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE GAME -- I was fully expecting to come out of this game completely infuriated with the way Jimmy Dykes does his “expert analysis” (which, by the way, has been slipping ever since his Jimmy Dykes White Board half-time extravaganza on ESPN+ nearly 5 years ago), but the color commentator was actually OK and did a good job of not taking sides or making ridiculous statements.

1 comment:

  1. Let me reply to myself and say that The ESPN studio pundits can BITE ME! You’d think that with the Big Ten finally winning the challenge coupled with Wisconsin beating Duke and Illinois staging its largest comeback in history there would have been a little more hype/excitement/inane proclamations about the magnitude of the evening for the ESPN studio crew. You know, something similar to the sort of talk we hear after North Carolina beats the College of Charleston by 30. But no, instead we get tempered expectations and claims that THIS YEAR it was all about the matchups and that the leagues aren’t that much different. Add to that the fact that even when the Big 10 loses the challenge they still typically have good runs come March and you’d expect some slight accolades. Maybe I wasn’t watching at the right time, but this further solidifies (if it could get any more solid) that ESPN will ignore every fact possible in order to slight Big Ten athletics.


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