Nov 9, 2010, 4:36 PM EDT
If Illinois wants to cement itself as a Big Ten title contender alongside Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue, defense is the key. (OK, a sharpshooting Brandon Paul and an under-control Demetri McCamey also would help.)
Last season was the least efficient defense during Bruce Weber’s tenure. It wasn’t bad – 92.7 points per 100 possessions – but it was a far cry from the previous seasons when Illinois was among the top 20 teams.
Right on cue, the Illini brought it in the first half of their opening win against UC Irvine. Cue the tempo-free analysis from the Big Ten Geeks:
… the Illini allowed just 0.49 points per possession. The Anteaters shot just 23 percent from the field and turned it over on nearly a third of their possessions. Weber has been emphasizing defense in early practices, and it showed in this first half. The length and athleticism of the Illini was on full display, and they were playing like a legitimate top 15 team.
Illinois knew it was playing well, too.
“We were intimidating defensively in the first half,” Weber said. “We were all over the place.”
“We came out feisty and fighting, diving for balls and stuff like that,” said Paul.
Except it only lasted a half. After UC Irvine reeled off 25 points in 10 minutes during the second half, things looked a little more like 2009-10. The Geeks say Illinois ended the game allowing .86 points per possession, which is better than last season, but a far cry from the first half and likely won’t be good enough against Big Ten foes.
Good thing it’s November.
- FBI: San Diego point-shaving scandal netted ‘more than $120,000′ 0
- Pressure mounting on Texas head coach Rick Barnes? 0
- Former Memphis forward Tarik Black will spend senior year at Kansas 2
- The bond between Rick Byrd and Casey Alexander crosses rivalry lines 1
- How did Bill Self learn about Andrew Wiggins’ commitment? Twitter 0
- John Calipari: ‘We’re chasing perfection’ (14)
- Report: Baylor coach told Griner not to talk about her sexuality (13)
- Big Ten considering ‘protected rivalries’ for basketball schedule (9)
- Federal tax documents reveal that Mike Krzyzewski made $9.7 million in 2011 (4)
- Evan Gordon is transferring to Indiana (4)
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement
- Posnanski on Golf: Sergio shows disdain for Tiger
- HBT: Soriano calls out Harper after blown save
- PHT: Sharks take Game 4, pull even with Kings
- PBT: Cavs win NBA draft lottery, will pick No. 1
- PBT: Nick Gilbert again Cavs' good luck charm