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COVID-19 Illini Basketball

The Cameron Streak

It doesn’t matter that this year’s Duke team is overrated because its name is Duke. It doesn’t matter that it’s inexperienced and young.

Illinois is in the middle of a win streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and that streak is heading into its 26th year. That’s the important thing.

Whether it’s Chris Collins or Shaun Livingston or even John Scheyer; some Illinoisans need to be reminded that there’s only one team that’s undefeated in a quarter-century at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It’s the Illinois Fighting Illini.*

Also important is that any uncertainty following the Baylor loss is now forgotten by the people whose haunted memories matter most: Illini players.

Yes, it’s also nice that AP Top 25 voters will regard the Triumph at Cameron as proving something something undeniable pedigree.

A week after Baylor’s pre-game prep and in-game execution pantsed the Illini for 89 consecutive seconds, Illinois pounded Duke for about 37 minutes, while still committing enough boneheaded errors to provide the coaching staff with talking points, and keep practice interesting.

At most, two or three of those AP voters will remember that Kofi was inconsistent around the rim. Some of them know who Andre Curbelo is, but as long as the Illini narrative begins and ends with Ayo; Belo won’t be praised for igniting the offense, nor blamed for his wild rampages through Duke’s press.

Brad Underwood said Belo’s never faced a press. By the same token, Kofi and Giorgi have rarely battled defenders who combine freakish height with freakish athleticism.

Duke was a great lesson in that sense. The Illini bigs learned they can’t rely on low-post moves that lesser opponents were physically incapable of stopping.

Can one declare a coming out party for a chap as taciturn as Da’Monte Williams? Before a crowd of dozens, with millions more watching on TV, Monte continued his recent Arc Odyssey, swatted & recovered an alley-oop, and perpetrated Little Things on unsuspecting Dukies.

People should start comparing Monte to Lucas Johnson. He gets in people’s heads. And armpits.

Ayo won praise for an all-around effort, and he wasn’t humble about it. He blew off the notion that beating Duke means something, but accepted the suggestion that he played a complete game.

If you’ve seen any references to Bryant Notree, Matt Heldman or Chris Gandy over the last ten days, you can rest assured that Tuesday’s game at Cameron has already cemented itself a place in Illini lore.

It doesn’t matter whether it was a good game. It was A Great Game.

*Even if this statistic is not true, it’s true anyway. You know it in your heart.

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Illini Basketball

Wednesday After Dark

Swift decapitation seems like the best option if one must be executed. But in basketball, the bleed out still takes 40 minutes.

Kudos to Baylor assistant Alvin Brooks for recognizing that Illinois can be neutralized simply by shutting down its top three scoring options simultaneously. His scouting report proved deadly.

Rattling Adam Miller into an 0-for-4 get-go — and two turnovers in the first 69 seconds — allowed the Bears to effectively triple-team Ayo when he dared to penetrate. Jonathan Chumbawamba wasn’t planning to let Kofi catch a pass, and the rest of Baylor’s defense somehow encouraged Trent Frazier to kick or hoist the ball toward an abandoned baseline whenever an open opportunity seemed ready to brew.

Brooks coached with Bruce Weber and Chester Frazier at Kansas State before recognizing, as did Chet, that the turd was about to sink. His move to Waco kept him in Brad Underwood’s home conference. Let’s go out on a limb and speculate that he’s scouted Brad before.

Alvin Brooks III, in the brown suit

Combobulating this team in time for Duke, following two deflating performances, would move Underwood to the top of COY lists. And if your aunt had a penis, she’d be your uncle.

Given modern technology, neither of these outcomes is beyond our ken. But reassignment surgery might be easier than teaching freshmen to execute like seniors. Miller might not see such a smothering defense for the rest of the season, but Ayo is likely to get every opponent’s best 1-2 punch. Finding the open man is Rule One in besting a double-team, and Ayo threaded that needle last season in memorable situations. Alan Griffin was good at being found.

Ayo hasn’t developed the same rhythm with Adam, and Da’Monte —despite his alarming improvement from the arc — is still locked in Little Things mode when you might prefer him floating to the wing.

Andre Curbelo played the Warren Carter role on Wednesday. “Instant Offense!” cried the fans. “For the other team!” retorted Weber.

‘Belo handled the ball well (4/1 ATO). He made his shots. And he finished with a team worst -17 scoring differential. The metric invites scrutiny and skepticism. Who else did Andre play with during those sixteen minutes? Nevertheless, there it is, glaring from the box score.

‘Belo’s success, and Giorgi’s, were perhaps a side-effect of the Bears focus on Ayo and Kofi. Even if Brooks’s scouting report emphasized their tendencies, it’s hard for players to remember all the fine points. And really, it didn’t matter. Baylor cruised to this win.

Big Ten teams will already know Giorgi, and they’ll learn about Andre. Some won’t have the advantage of Baylor’s quick guards and energetic bigs. But they’ll all have one more game’s worth of video to study.

As Davion Mitchell said of Ayo: “We listened to the scout. We didn’t let him get to that right hand.” It’s not really that simple. But he added “it wasn’t just me, it was our other guards … we all locked up.”

And that’s the barrel this year’s team is looking down.

On the bright side, Ayo now has an opportunity to show fans and NBA scouts that he can turn a double-team into double-digit assists.

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Illini Basketball

The Giorgi Development

Rutgers was a good game for Giorgi, who seems to do well against Scarlet Knights.

He made half his shots, grabbed 7 rebounds in 23 minutes, connected on both free-throws, dished two assists and committed only two fouls (one of which accounted for his lone turnover).

Giorgi’s great attributes are hard to quantify. They’re so many. One that stands out is selflessness. He genuinely enjoys watching his teammates succeed, even at the expense of his own gaudy stats.

His major weakness comes simultaneously. He hasn’t refined his high-post screens to B1G standards, so he’s called for a lot of moving picks. Similarly, his understanding of the charge/block rule is a work in progress.

Giorgi was genuinely surprised when Kelly Pfeifer rang him up for the most obvious player-control foul of the 2020 college basketball season. Dozens of Rutgers fans screamed that’s a charge! the first time Giorgi thrust his shoulder into Ron Harper. When he felled Harper with a buttocks to the gut, everybody in the building knew which way the call was going.

Giorgi found his shot in Piscataway. It helped that Harper is shorter and less athletic than Jalen Smith & Xavier Tillman.

But that’s the point of playing him alongside Kofi, rather than instead of Kofi. If a team puts its big man on Cockburn, Giorgi can dominate a smaller opponent. Kofi could help clear out the paint by dragging his man to the high-post.

Problem is, Kofi hasn’t demonstrated (publicly) his ability to knock down a 17-footer. He can do it, and he does it in practice. But apart from a broken play at Mackey Arena, where Kofi surprised everyone by dropping a jumpshot; Illini fans haven’t seen that side of his game.

Giorgi has a knack for creating space, both for himself and others. But lately, Brad Underwood has not been pleased by Giorgi’s casual attitude to the stretch-four position. Giorgi is actually the team’s second-best long-range shooter, a hair ahead of Ayo at 30.6% (unless you count Tyler Underwood’s 2-of-6).

He works on his threes, and his free-throws, after every practice.

You’ll recall the elder Underwood lamenting, prior to the second MSU game, the beginning of the first MSU game. The boss man does not want to open his offense with a three from Giorgi. The next day, Giorgi opened that second game with a missed three-pointer. He didn’t play a lot after that.

This morning, Underwood praised Giorgi’s jump hook and added “we have to get him more looks down there.” (emphasis mine)

The advantage of playing Kofi and Giorgi separately, assuming Giorgi can’t improve his threes by 6-to-10 percent and Kofi doesn’t add that jumper to his arsenal, is twofold.

First, they’re each less likely to garner five fouls.

Second, the four-out look can deter zone defenses, especially if Tevian Jones gets more tick. Tevian’s advantage over every Illini (and all opponents) is that his release takes place above the heads of most defenders. Not only is Tev quick draw, but he’s a high leaper. His jump shot takes place in the clouds. That’s why it gives opponents fits.

Coach Underwood sees that he needs to open the middle, and create space for his offense. Giorgi is tool to that end. Because his attitude is pure altruism, he’s willing to do whatever it takes.

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Illini Basketball

The Low-Percentage Shot

Step back from the ledge.

An eon ago, in The 12 Seed, I speculated an upcoming five-game losing streak. It felt like a safe bet.

The other day, I suggested a silver lining to Ayo’s unexpected vacation. The committee might look at this east coast swing with even less skepticism than they might have. Losing at Rutgers and Penn State is not a big deal, and there’s no penalty for tourney purposes.

The Illini must beat the remaining crap teams on their schedule. Compiled Quad 1 wins have almost guaranteed some kind of bid.

The next mission for the team and its coaching staff is to figure out how to find uncontested, or at least less contested, shots.

At Rutgers, the boys in blue got open looks from Tevian Jones. Alan Griffin had a pair of clean looks from the outside, and a lot of armpits closer to the hoop.

Kofi was harassed in the paint, and didn’t quite figure out the implication of his abuse: The refs were letting ’em play.

Would Kofi be able to shift gears if he knew he could play rough? Maybe. Maybe not. These skills develop over time.

He didn’t seem as rattled in the second half, but then, he attempted two-thirds fewer shots.

In the first half, Kofi converted 4-of-9 attempts from the floor. In the second half, he launched only three. One of them went in.

The worst shooting performance came from Trent Frazier. Trent didn’t simply miss his shots. It’s not that the rim was unkind (except for that three that spun around and out). Trent’s problem was Rutgers. They were taller than he. They were in his way.

Trent’s shots were terrible, and the results predictable.

Even his high-percentage shots were low-percentage shots. You try to make a lay-up against three taller guys. You’ll see that it affects your percentage.

Trent needs more of the above from his teammates. He’s a great offensive weapon when they keep defenders out of his way.

It might seem insulting to say that Trent can’t create his own shot, but basketball is a team sport. Moreover, Trent can create his own shot. It’s a sudden & unexpected 30-foot jumper. He’s pretty good at it.

With each new game’s worth of video, this team becomes easier to scout. Illinois’ opponents have demonstrated admirable capability & professionalism in their game-planning.

It’s getting hard to score.

Brad & staff recognize this problem. They’ve already taken steps to address it.

You may have noticed that Tevian Jones played real minutes in Piscataway.

Alan started.

These two spread the floor. Their teammates aren’t dreadful at kicking out to them once the defense collapses; they’re merely bad at it.

Both Trent and Andres Feliz know how to drive and kick, but Kofi and Giorgi are still learning when to quit fighting through a double-team.

Both still exhibit space-out moments, what Brad calls “casual.” At Rutgers, Kofi took a half-second to assess the defense.

That was the only half-second Ron Harper needed.

When the parts come together, it looks effortless.

But too much of the time, it looks labored. It’s not always easy to watch a broken play and determine, in real time, how it broke. It’s worse when you can see it break before the players do.

Giorgi’s game at Rutgers, and in general, deserves it’s own column. He seems to have got his groove back. Brad says he wants more offensive opportunities for Giorgi.

Look for that tomorrow.

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Illini Basketball

The 12 Seed

Sweeping Michigan and Purdue seemed impressive, right?

Historically, and recently, Michigan and Purdue are B1G contenders. But what about this year? Purdue is 13-10 overall. Michigan is 4-7 in conference.

Is that good?

Memories of Caleb Swanigan and John Beilein are fresh, but Trevion Williams is not Caleb Swanigan. Beilein is gone. So is Bo Ryan. Wisconsin is also 13-10 on the year.

Looking at the schedule on February 8 gives the viewer a different impression of this Illini season than s/he might have had on October 29. Did you predict that Penn State and Rutgers would be the hard games?

And yet, arguably, Rutgers is the only good team that Illinois has beaten this season.

Last night’s loss looked a lot like its predecessor in Iowa City. Maryland employed an aggressive zone defense to completely emasculate the Illini. You can readily envision the Terps coaching staff slow-forwarding through video sequences of that Iowa game, identifying known weaknesses and capabilities.

Likewise, you can imagine the Iowa staff presenting video clips from the Braggin’ Rights embarrassment while telling its team if you challenge them with all your energy and effort; they will fold.

Special credit goes to Terps guard Darryl Morsell, who latched on to Ayo Dosunmu and didn’t let go. Perhaps he watched the Miami game.

If Ayo gets past you, it’s over. And Ayo is extremely good at getting past you. But if you keep him in front, hands high, Ayo’s arsenal diminishes.

Some fans seemed to think Illinois had a chance in the final 10 minutes of the game.

Or at least, they didn’t start leaving in droves until Anthony Cowan drained yet another three to put the Terps up 69-60 with 2:34 remaining.

It’s sweet that they felt Illinois had a chance, after scoring a single field goal in the first 10:52 of the second half.

But the truth is that Maryland had this one safely in its grasp from the moment they initiated that press.

The good news, if you want to call it good, is that NET rankings will probably keep the Illini in the tournament even if — as seems likely — their losing streak extends to five.

On the other hand, Izzo often craps the bed versus Illinois. And he’s too inflexible to mimic another team’s winning formula. So there’s that.

The Illini defense was much better against Maryland than at Breslin. In fact, it kept them within scratching distance during their 40 day ordeal in the scoring desert.

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Illini Basketball

Everybody’s Talkin’

It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.

Not January 2020, but Illini basketball. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to be the pretty girl at the party. For too many years, Illini hoops was not merely vincible, but easily vinced.

But this midwinter weekend, Illinois basketball noticed that everyone wants to be its friend. Everyone wants our phone number. Everyone who isn’t talking to us is talking about us. Right now, they’re complimenting us on our dress & poise. They like our fresh face.

credit: Vashoune Russell

They’ll turn catty later, but right now, Giorgi is the media darling. Kofi is the freshman sensation. Ayo is the assassin.

It struck me on Friday night, when one of the guys from The Journey walked into the bar at Pacific Rim, where @VashouneRussell and I had just ordered our bevs. He was by himself, so he joined in and we talked about camera specs & B1G basketball. I realized he was in town because of Illinois.

He takes pictures of EVERYTHING.

Sure enough, the next noon, I found myself sitting with two of his colleagues, the videographer & the Holder of The Boom Mic. They were positioned in the corner, at the end of the Illini bench. No similar crew sat at the Michigan end. The Journey was not interested in Wolverines.

Meanwhile, in the dungeon where media eat bacon and photogs edit, Tayshaun Prince somberly texted. We don’t know how many NBA scouts were there, but Tayshaun stood out. And his credential said SCOUT, so we knew what was up.

Vashoune spotted him, too. And because Vashoune photographs everything, he selfiebombed the former Kentucky star. (If Kentucky is not on TV, Vashoune will watch the Illini.)

“I’m sorry to do this to you,” he began, realizing just how much sorrier he was for saying it, and already feeling stupid for doing it, “but can I take a picture with you?”

Vashoune Russell & Tayshaun Prince

NBA scouts are not allowed to speak with working media at NCAA sites, and Tayshaun didn’t.

Maybe Tayshaun was there to see Jon Teske. But, you know, probably not.

Team Dosunmu knows what’s up, too.

Brendan Quinn, the former MSU/Michigan beat writer now at The Athletic, held his audio recorder over my shoulder during Ayo’s postgame interview. I told him he could rest his arm there when all the blood had gone. He laughed.

Upstairs, the Michigan media (and my other Android, on a tripod) were waiting for Juwan Howard to arrive for his Q&A.

Guys who usually cover Michigan usually cover Michigan. But not this time. Not now.

Illinois basketball is the life of the party. So after Ayo’s press scrum broke, Brendan did not hustle up the stairs to hear Juwan’s analysis. He sat down for a longer interview with Ayo — a privilege reserved for the important media, none of whom cover Illini basketball … until now!

We’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to be the center of attention. Illini basketball has performed the Washington Generals role for globetrotting tourney regulars like Wisconsin, Purdue & Michigan since Steve Jobs was pitching iPads. The last time you felt this excited about your team, you whipped out your BlackBerry to text your buddy. Then you remembered: he can’t work that feature on his dumbphone.

credit: Vashoune Russell

As you explore success, and rediscover its merits, please remember us little guys, too.

We’re lucky to have an extremely collegial media pool at a moment when Illini basketball has, stunningly & electrically, launched itself to a place of national prominence. At Michigan, you got coverage from Joey, Scott, Jeremy & Derek, Marlee, Gavin Good and that new guy Matt. These people work every day to keep you up-to-date.

It’s great to have the perspective of an outsider, too. Outsiders see things we miss for being right in front of us. Case in point: You should read Marcus Fuller this week, at StarTribune.com both before & after the Gophers come to town. You’ll learn something.

And yes, when SportsCenter features Illini basketball, when Dickie V & Pat Forde & Pete Thamel & Dan Wetzel spend an entire column on your team; enjoy the hell out of it.

It’s fun to be the pretty girl at the party. For one thing, you might get asked to dance.

Help a brother, yes?
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Illini Basketball

Bad Day for Bigs

It’s hard to miss seven feet worth of human stretched out on the floor in front of you. When I stepped on to the Crisler Center court yesterday morning, Kofi Cockburn was lying on his stomach at the Illinois bench. Fletch might have been stretching the big man’s hamstring. The expression on his face conveyed mild nausea.

credit: Vashoune Russell

It wouldn’t be the first time Kofi played through the pain. Twenty days earlier, he sprained an ankle in shootaround. He grimaced, and hopped on one foot to the sidelines before collapsing on a folding chair.

Paul Schmidt got him up and running in time for tip-off, and apart from an extra layer of orange tape peeking from his right sock, you wouldn’t have known Kofi was hurting. (If you missed Giorgi’s shout-out to Paul Schmidt in the Northwestern postgame presser, it’s worth watching again, just for the Giorgi Entertainment Value.)

Yesterday in Ann Arbor, Kofi looked pained. His default facial expression conveys monstrosity when, in fact, he’s a soft-spoken, gentle person.

So it’s hard to be sure. When your star freshman has a touch of the flu, it’s not divulged to the outside world. If Kofi was slowed by a virus, our only indication is that he looked gassed — pretty much from the opening tip.

2-of-9 field goals, 1-of-3 FTs and fouling out with only three rebounds in 30 minutes indicates something amiss.

Giorgi also had a bad shooting day, and also got in foul trouble. But he was a Little Things guy, which has become his new role lately. He should get a lot of credit for screening Ayo’s path to 27 points.

Five rebounds in 25 minutes is fewer than you’d want; but Jon Teske, Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner & Austin Davis seemed pretty motivated to change the narrative about Illini bigs after what happened in Champaign last month.

You’re an Illini fan. Therefore, you have your own Robert Archibald story.

You probably met Arch, and you probably felt personally touched by his ingratiating style. If you spent more than 30 seconds with him, you probably got a taste of his sardonic wit.

A remarkable fact about Robert Archibald is that he grew his company of friends far beyond his 1998-2002 cohort. I mentioned in 2013 that Archibald spent the Reunion of Old Soldiers with Richard Semrau, whose recruitment and (limited) career were far removed from Archibald’s era. After that, Arch befriended and hired Sam McLaurin, whose Texan construction gigs were taking a toll on his body.

The last time I saw Arch, I queried “where’s my friend Sam McLaurin?” His Architypical response: “Working … I hope.”

When Brad Underwood stepped toward the microphone for yesterday’s postgame Q&A, he didn’t need to muster any affectation to convey the somber sense of loss he felt in delivering the news to those who hadn’t heard. Robert Archibald was not simply a member of the Illini family. He was a focal point, and a rallying force of the Illini family.

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Illini Basketball

A Moment in Madison

I was surprised that no one watched Ayo’s Biggest Moment when I first uploaded it, moments after it happened.

Were Illini fans asleep? It was 10-ish of the clock in the Midwest, so you never know. But this was a BIG DEAL

No.

Illini fans, like all fans, are somewhat interested in what happens & what happened. They pay money to read fantasy fiction about Glory That Might Happen.

There are fewer views of Rayvonte Rice’s Braggin’ Rights game-winner than Francis Okoro’s minute-nineteen of yeah, I like Illinois; no I haven’t made any decisions yet.

None of that was the problem.

When I got back to Illinois, I realized what had happened. YouTube had blocked Ayo’s Magic Moment worldwide because a popular song was playing over the Kohl Center public address system.

I’d deleted the raw file from my phone before I got to the Wisconsin media room. I needed the space for postgame interviews.

Unfortunately, while YouTube offers Creators the ability to download videos of their own making, only a compressed version is available. So I grabbed the 69MB version, silenced the pop song, slo-mo’ed the key moments, and re-uploaded.

It’s fuzzy. But it captures Ayo’s two buckets. Way at the other end of the court, you can barely see the rebound he ripped from all contenders — an underappreciated moment of this incredible finish.

Giorgi’s 14-foot free-throw is there. Alan’s threes are not. Frankly, before he hit them, it didn’t seem likely that Illinois might win. Like DJ Richardson’s 8-point spree in the closing moments against #1 Indiana, Alan’s contribution to Illinois’ Proclamation of Return will likely get overlooked as time goes by.

The best part, in my opinion, is the joy and relief on the faces of Jamarra and Quam. They’ve traveled the globe following their sun (sic). Italy and Maui had some scenery. B1G towns all hold some form of charm.*

But until this Moment in Madison, Ayo hadn’t slain Goliath in a consequential game. Yes, the 2019 Illini beat MSU. They won at Columbus. They showed promise of things to come. But 12-21 impresses zero scouts.

The NBA wants winners. That’s why all five starters from 2005 got an NBA contract. Madison was Ayo’s entrée as consequential performer on the national stage.

Anyway, here’s a crappy video of A Moment Which Will Live In Your Memory. You will enjoy it, probably more than once.

*except West Lafayette.**

** It has an XXX-rated burger joint, though.

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Illini Basketball

Giorgi the Sniffer

In keeping with the new IlliniReport format announced in 2020 Vision, my first stab at chronicling today’s squeaker over Rutgers will focus on one particular moment.

Surely Ayo’s clutch performance will be remembered for some time. Andres Feliz’s second-half grit must not go unmentioned.

These aspects will be analyzed & discussed, all over the interwebs, for days to come.

Instead, I’m going to report a detail that might not get covered anywhere else.

Exclusives are like gold in the media biz, but I hope Jim Mattson, Nico Haeflinger and/or Marlee Wierda also deliver some footage of this moment. They had essentially the same angle as I did. Fighting Illini Productions’s Zach Altfillisch might have had a clear shot too.

It happened at 9:37 of the second half as Kofi Cockburn prepared to shoot a pair of free-throws. Giorgi Bezhanishvili leaned into Myles Johnson’s left elbow, and sniffed it.

Spotting this unusual behavior, I twisted my lens clockwise for a closer look.

Had I imagined it? Was Giorgi simply positioning himself and focusing his mind on rebounding? Well, maybe.

But then he sniffed again. This time, a little way down the forearm.

Giorgi is the Illini’s Chief Practitioner of Mindgames. His low-post moves are not the end of his craftiness.

Was this a devised distraction?

Was Giorgi angling to confound Myles Johnson just at the moment when Johnson might most effectively be befuddled?

I thought Giorgi was moving in for the kiss when he suddenly looked up, straight into the lens.

I hope I didn’t ruin it.

On the other hand, Kofi made both free-throws, so perhaps it’s for the best that Giorgi kept that particular arrow in his quiver. It may come in handy later this year, when another rival rebounder requires some rattling.

Check back tomorrow for a more conventional write-up of the game. (Maybe.)

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Illini Basketball

Hi-Lo

It’s been an ongoing quest this season: How to get the ball to Kofi Cockburn in the low post.

You’ve seen a lot of bounce-passes from the top of the key. Unfortunately, so have the advance scouts and assistant coaches from opposing teams. Consequently, you’ve recently seen a lot of interceptions.

Wednesday at Wisconsin, the Hi-Lo was a mixed bag of effective oops, overhead passes and pick-offs.

In the first half, the Wisconsin bench called out Illini plays to their defenders. It was mostly effective with the significant exception of the lob dunk which Brad Underwood drew up during a timeout. I’d like to go back and compare the set up for that play to other lob dunks successfully executed by the Illini, because the Badgers bench didn’t recognize it. Underwood is as devious as John Groce was guileless. Presumably he knows that lining up his five in a particular pattern will tell opponents which actions are likely to ensue.

In the second half, Micah Potter tried to explain how to recognize a forthcoming alley-oop. But his teammates didn’t seem to understand. Or maybe they thought it was obvious and unnecessary. If they’re both at the elbow, it’s a lob.

This morning at the SFC, Kofi said the coaches haven’t done anything to hone the hi-lo. Underwood said his team isn’t running it as much, preferring other actions rather than a two-day game between the bigs.

Certainly none of that is entirely true, and there’s probably an amount of truth in both statements.

Watching hi-lo actions has always been painful, because there’s a necessary amount of cliffhanger drama. Will he get the ball is the obvious question. Will he keep it high, or bring it down to chest level is another.

Run properly, it’s hard to defend. But there’s just so much room for error, and recently, up until the second half at Kohl, error has prevailed.