The Illini men fell to [opponent team] last night in [city] by a score of [lots] to [considerably less].
Illinois was slow out of the gate while [opponent team] ran up a double-digit lead before the [ordinal number] media timeout. The [opponent team nickname] connected on [x] of [singular or plural possessive pronoun] shots as the Illinois defense was slow to find its footing.
“Obviously credit to them,” Illini coach John Groce said afterward, “they did a lot of things right tonight.”
[Journeyman/team cancer] said he wasn’t sure why Illinois was so slow at the start. [Predicted savior] agreed in part, saying the team needed to play harder. [Role player] said the team needs to play hard all the time.
[Opponent team] got a boost from [bench player], not known for his [specific offensive categorical] proficiency. [Bench player] tallied a career-high [x] [specific offensive categorical] in [x] minutes of action.
“I thought [bench player] was just terrific for them,” Groce said. “He came in averaging [x] [specific offensive categorical] and had only [x] in his [cardinal number] games in conference. So for him to [collect/connect] [x] against us is really impressive. There’s just no way to prepare for that. So kudos to him for that.”
Illinois’ assist-to-turnover ratio was particularly upsetting to Groce, who said the [lesser cardinal number] assist total might have been higher if his team had made more shots. Groce was also displeased by the [greater cardinal number] turnovers. “That’s not who we are,” Groce averred. “That’s not what we’re about.”
“We’ll have to take a look at it,” Groce added, when asked how to fix the problem, adding that his organization doesn’t make excuses. “One step at a time. “
[Opponent team] out-rebounded the Illini by [fortysomething] to [twenties], despite the size advantage Illinois enjoys in the post.
Illini players said the team remains hopeful. [Role player] said he believes the team is on the verge of turning things around. [Journeyman/team cancer] added that Groce told the team they should never get too high about a win, or too low about a loss, and that the team needs to play more together.
Groce compounded that sentiment, employing an allusion to the 80’s British prog-rock group The Police to critique the team’s ill-adjusted sense of timing. [Journeyman/team cancer] admitted privately afterward that he’d never heard of the group, but sort of ignores moments when the coach is speaking metaphorically because it’s depressing and stupid.
Groce also said his team lacked toughness in the face of adversity.
The final score doesn’t tell the whole story. Illinois mounted a courageous comeback in the second half, cutting the deficit to [x] points. But following an Illinois time out, [opponent team] regrouped, forcing a crucial Illini turnover and regaining the momentum.
[Journeyman/team cancer] led Illinois with [x] points and added [x][assists/rebounds]. [Predicted savior] had an off-night for the Illini, connecting on only 1-of-9 shots from the field.
The Illini drop to [dwindling cardinal number-increasing cardinal number] on the year, and [single digit-double digit] in the Big Ten. [Opponent team] improves to [superior numbers] in conference and [NCAA-sniffing record] overall.
For his career at Illinois, Groce is now [cardinal number] and [increasingly larger cardinal number] in Big Ten games.