I'm going to talk plenty about Illinois' win on Sunday night, but holy crap were there a lot of fouls in this game. In fact, there have been a lot of fouls in a lot of games through the first weekend of the season, as officials look to enforce some new rules which basically equate to NO TOUCHING.
I'm hoping this is just a trend we're going to see early in the year as a way to make a point and officials will let up as the season goes on, because if not, college basketball isn't going to be as much fun as it'll just be a free throw contest.
Both Illinois and Jacksonville State were called for 39 fouls on Sunday night, which is basically a foul per minute. Both teams combined for 51 free throw attempts as well, though things did slow down in the second half, as there were 32 free throws shot in the first half.
Still, it was incredibly annoying, and there's little to know flow to a game when the action is being stopped at least once a minute for a whistle.
As for the game itself, the Illini won! And they did so by 24 points while shooting over 50% from the field. Still, while there was a lot to like about Sunday's performance, there was a lot to not like too, and I'm not just talking about all those damn whistles.
So let's get to those things.
- Jacksonville State's tallest player was 6'8, but that did not stop the Gamecocks from winning the rebound battle. Jacksonville State outrebounded the Illini 44-37, which just should not happen against a team of this size. I know the Illini aren't exactly a group of behemoths, but that's simply not acceptable. Nor is the fact that the Gamecocks had 25 offensive rebounds. Yes, Jax State shot only 32.9% from the floor, so they had plenty of opportunities for offensive rebounds, but the Gamecocks had an offensive rebound rate of 52%, and that's a terrible job on our part. If we get killed on the glass by little teams, imagine what the big ones will do.
-- Joseph Bertrand was a bright spot, picking up his first career double-double. Joe finished with 20 points to lead the Illini, and he also led the team with 10 rebounds. And he did all of this while shooting 78% from the field. If Joe wants to go for 20 and 10 every night while shooting near 80%, that'll be just fine with me. He'll probably win some awards too.
-- Jaylon Tate, you are making me love you. Now, I don't want to go too crazy here considering the competition the Illini have faced in their two exhibition games and the first two games of the regular season. But Tate has been just so damned impressive. He's not amazing, but he's solid, and he's a true point guard. I mean, the kid had 10 points, eight assists and only one turnover tonight. This is a true freshman playing his second real college game.
-- The rotation is starting to become clear. We had the same starting five tonight in Egwu, Abrams, Bertrand, Ekey and Rice, but it's Malcolm Hill and Tate who are the first freshman off the bench. And the true rotation seems to be about eight deep, with Austin Colbert filling it out. And you'll notice that I didn't mention Kendrick Nunn yet. He's having a hard time getting important minutes simply because he's making a lot of mistakes. He will have a chance to work his way in, I'm sure, but at the moment he's definitely behind Hill, Tate and Colbert on the freshmen pecking order.
-- Speaking of Malcolm Hill, the shot's still not there on offense, as he went 1-for-7 from the floor tonight, but he's helping out in other areas. He had six rebounds, and didn't commit a foul or a turnover.
-- We hit some threes late to make it look better, but through two games the three-point shooting is still a concern. After going 4-for-20 on Friday we went 4-for-12 tonight, but we started out about 1-for-8. Either way, on the season we're 8-for-32 and 25% from three isn't exactly going to cut it.
-- Nnanna Egwu had a block party tonight. While we couldn't take advantage of Jacksonville State's size on the glass, Nnanna took advantage in the lane, finishing with five blocks. He's got seven through two games.
Points per possession: 1.34
Turnover rate: 7.8%
Offensive rebound rate: 42.4%
Free throw rate: 45.9%
Points per possession: 0.98
Turnover rate: 12.7%
Offensive rebound rate: 52%
Free throw rate: 32.9%