Hopefully, this is the low point of the series.
Where to begin. I suppose let's get the positives out of the way. There are so few of them.
Trent Frazier. The one positive offensive player we have. He can shoot the lights out of any building. He can score in a variety of ways. That kind of game was on full display, as Frazier led all scorers with 28 points. Easily the best shooter on either team, he took Mark Smith's lunch several times throughout the evening. Let's just say Illini fans should still be happy with the way things played out in that situation.
Besides a pretty solid first half where we kept it close, I think that's about it for the positives. Yeah, it was that kind of game.
Player rotations. You can't convince me that Tyler Underwood is a better fit for this team than Alan Griffin. This is getting ridiculous. Okay, he plays defense, I guess. When you're in a prolonged slump shooting the ball you might want to rotate in a player who can, I don't know, make a basket. This is basketball, right? You still have to score points to win a game? Just checking.
Why with Adonis De La Rosa? I was pretty excited when he signed with Illinois, but I'm not entirely sure he's completely recovered from his serious leg injury from last season. He has added very little value on either end of the court. Seven very ineffective minutes. Minutes that by this point should be going to a younger player, like Samba Kane.
I also understand why the coaching staff holds Da’Monte Williams in such high regard. He's tough, he does the little things well. Team leader. He just can't score the basketball. That's a problem when you're losing and your offense looks listless. You can't continue to grind away with no scoring from a team leader. It's inexcusable.
Defense. Another game, another 50%+ shooting effort from an opponent. It's a broken record, but it seems to be an uncrackable egg for this coaching staff. Bad perimeter defense. Easy transition buckets. Second- and third-chance points, it almost comes too easy for them.
Especially when Illinois spirals into one of its patented scoring droughts. As they did to finish Braggin' Rights. 24-7, good lord. What a way to end the game when you take a lead with six minutes left. It was as bad as it sounds.
Ayo. I really wish I didn't have to put him in this category. But what can be done.
What an abysmal performance from such a talented player. Two points on 1-of-5 shooting. Zero assists. Four fouls. Three turnovers. -18 rating. Is it that two different, talented, players cannot thrive in this offense? I don't understand. When one guard seems to play well, the other can't figure it out. It's very frustrating to watch at times.
Before the season, I predicted a 20-win season and a near miss on the NCAA tournament. We look miles away from even sniffing any tournament berth. Hopefully the ship can be righted soon, because right now it's taking on bucketfuls of water.