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Joseph Bertrand: Reluctant Scorer

The Illini might be better served if the only senior that's been on the team the last few years started being more aggressive.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

I brought it up following the loss to Georgia Tech on Tuesday night, but I thought I'd expand on the idea a bit further here.

I'm really starting to think that Joseph Bertrand needs to start taking more shots.

The Illini are a team that has struggled to score points this season, that much is clear to all of us. Through eight games the Illini have scored 570 points, and Rayvonte Rice has scored 144 of them. That is literally a quarter of the points we've scored as a team. Which, in and of itself, isn't that abnormal. It would just be nice if Rice got a bit more support on the offensive end.

And at the moment Bertrand is our second leading scorer, scoring 92 points thus far. However, the difference is that Bertrand has attempted 43 fewer shots from the field than Rice. He's been incredibly efficient with his scoring.

On the season he's shooting 54% from the field and 64% from three point land. He has an eFG% of 59.5% and a true shooting percentage of 61%. Those are all the best numbers on the team.

The problem is that Joe is taking only 18.3% of the team's shots while he's on the court. Compare that to Rice, who is taking 28.7% of the shots during his minutes, and Tracy Abrams -- the same Abrams that is shooting 31% overall and 15% from three -- is taking 25.4% of the shots when he's out there.

And it doesn't stop there.

When on the court here are the other Illini taking more of the shots than Joe: Nnanna Egwu, Austin Colbert and Kendrick Nunn. Granted, Colbert and Nunn have spent plenty of their minutes on the court at the end of games, but it still says something that both feel more comfortable taking shots than Bertrand seems to.

But I can't help but wonder if a change wouldn't be better for all involved. Seeing the final play of the Georgia Tech game drawn up for Bertrand was an encouraging sign, even if he didn't make the shot. Not only was John Groce willing to put the game in Joe's hands, but he was willing to have it placed there as well.

I'd just like to see Joe do that a bit earlier in the game. I don't know that it would work out for everybody in the end, and I'm sure it would bring Joe's efficiency numbers down a bit, but with the way this team is struggling to score right now, it can't hurt.

I mean, it makes sense to have the guy hitting 54% of his shots taking more shots than the guy hitting 31% of them, doesn't it?

Plus, if Joe is able to hit some outside shots early in the game, it's only going to make life that much easier for him. Hitting shots will force defenses to get up closer to him, which will make it easier for Joe to do what Joe truly excels at. Getting to the rim and using his amazing athleticism to finish.

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