Hard to Catch Up
The IlliniWonk has tons of good stuff from an Illinois perspective. I must say we saw two different games but it is interesting to see what another fan saw, unfiltered.
As they said on SportsCenter after tonight, it's a game of inches. Illinois' last four three-point attempts all hit the heel of the rim, perhaps the result of over-compensating for tired legs. If one of those four drop, the outcome might have been different. On the other end of the court, North Carolina wins when a wild miss by Rashad McCants is batted in by Marvin Williams with 1:28 on the clock. If the Illini grab the rebound, the outcome might have been different.It certainly was a wild attempt from McCants. But really, two 'what ifs' in 5 sentences is a bit much for my tastes. Illinois deserves great praise for their effort but teams that lose close games always "woulda, shoulda, coulda but didn't." Don't come to bury the Illini, but to praise them (with apologies to Caesar, naturally). And then there's this:
The UNC big man bumped and pushed the entire night, but when Illinois tried to give back what they were getting, the refs found their whistles. Illini Wonk was shocked to look at the box score after the game to discover that May had only one foul while James Augustine fouled out and Jack Ingram earned four.It's the way the bumping happened, Wonk, that did your guys in. May posted strong and used his lower body to get in the low block. The more slight Illinois big men were forced to use their hands and forearms to negate May's strength. Monday night hand-check fouls were called and Illinois consistently reached against the longer and more athletic Carolina front court. It was a problem that Coach Weber must've anticipated and that double-teaming seemed to negate early in the first half. But McCants, Jawad Williams and Raymond Felton forced Illinois out of that strategy with good first half perimeter shooting. Then, in the second half May made one great crosscourt diagonal pass to a jump shooter out of a double team that put pressure on Illinois to play solid man-to-man defense.
More Below. Click me.
Finally, I thought Illinois was in trouble whenever McCants had the ball in the post or in triple threat position near the top of the key. Simply put he was too strong for any Illinois defenders, as McCants himself predicted in the pre-game interview. Meanwhile, Roger Powell and Dee Brown (both undersized against UNC for their respective skill sets) could not generate consistent offense leaving Deron Williams and Luther Head too much slack to cover.
As for the fact Illinois outrebounded Carolina, I am unsurprised. Illinois took and missed 28 3-point jumpers (not to mention several 17 footers) that gave them long offensive rebounding opportunities. Meanwhile, Carolina shot over 50%, and much of that from close range where the defensive rebounders of Illinois could limit UNC's 2nd chance points.
This from IlliniGirl:
Stat of the game in my opinion - North Carolina free-throws attempted 18, Illinois free throws attempted 6. I must agree with Bruce Weber and say that how the game was called had a major effect on this game. This wasn't Illinois circa 2001 where the classic complaint was that Lucas Johnson, Robert Archibald, and Damir Krupalija were too physical. I'm not sure why there seemed to be such a disparity in this game.Shoot 40 3-pointers in a game and you're not going to get fouled an awful lot, as Colin noted in the comments section. I mean, seriously, did Illinois get to the rack often? Did they beat their man off the dribble? Did Carolina go over the back a lot after making more than half their shots? What Illinois did was pass teh ball around the perimeter looking for a 3. And you don't get fouled when that's your attack. Come on IlliniGirl, you're better than that. Then I read her LiveBlogging of the game and found this:
Of course, if you can't tell by the name of this blog, I'm not the most impartial, unbiased source.So maybe not. In fact, after reading the whole thing and finding her calling Sean May a thug I'm sure she inexplicably lost her mind during the game. Here's hoping the Illini Hubby helps her back from the ledge.
The BigTenWonk does a much better job of maintaining objectivity.
ASIDE: All in all I don't understand the "if they played 10 times Illinois would win five of them" stuff I've seen on ESPN and in the blogosphere. What evidence exists that such comments are true? When Carolina was punishing Illinois in the first half I don't understand how one could think it was a 50-50 proposition. And Illinois' second half was fine, I suppose, but they never held the lead. So I just don't get it.