No Passing Zone January 17, 2013
I’m hung up on the passing.
It’s all I can think about. I’m obsessed with it. The last two games, without question, were the worst passing-the-basketball games in the last 25 years of Illini basketball. I’ve watched 95% of the televised games in those 25 years (and attended every home game while I was in school) and I can tell you that I’ve never watched back-to-back games where we looked so lost distributing the ball.
In the last two games, we have eight assists. Eight. Total. 80 minutes of basketball, eight assists. Which means that once every ten minutes – twice per half – an Illini player found an open teammate and he knocked down the shot and/or layup. Wait, what am I and/or-ing for? We don’t find open teammates for layups. Once every ten minutes in the last two games an Illini player found an open teammate who then knocked down a shot. That’s pretty unbelievable.
Granted, this team didn’t make their 12-0 run to the top ten with 2005-like assists. If I recall correctly we were only averaging something like 13 assists per game then. But eight in two games? You have really try for that one-assist-every-ten-minutes pace.
But it’s not just assists. Quick, name one solid Illini pass you can remember from tonight. Name something you remember besides dribble-drives into double teams hoping for foul calls. You can’t, can you? The only pass I remember was on Paul’s three that cut the lead to ten – I think it was Abrams. That led to a fist pump. Yes, I fist-pumped a second half three that cut the lead to ten in the second half at home against Northwestern who just lost by 20 to Iowa in Evanston on Sunday. Recalculating!
But now we’re beyond recalculation, aren’t we? Now we’re at a full-scale readjustment.
I was hopeful that this Illini basketball team would be the feel-good story that would bring us all back. Seniors who were lost under their old coach and then found under their new one. From 9th in the Big Ten preseason poll to 10th in the AP poll. From missing the NIT to a protected seed. All hail the new era of Illini basketball.
But now that’s not happening. With another bad loss – this one at home, no less – we probably have to get to nine Big Ten wins to make the tournament. And with another sure W gone, now we have to beat a Michigan or an Indiana to get there (combined with beating Wisconsin at home and Iowa on the road). At this point, all of that is highly unlikely.
Which pushes this readjustment past just this season. This season will now likely be our fourth missed NCAA Tournament in six years. And with four seniors graduating, next year looks like a step back as well. So that will make five missed tournaments in seven years. It’s likely spring of 2015 before we can count on a full bounce-back.
And football? Football is probably 2015 before there’s a chance at a winning season. Too many holes on both lines this year to see a winning season (plus a Guenther’d non-conference schedule including Cincinnati and Washington), and then probably too many offensive losses to do anything of substance in 2014.
So… yeah. It might be 2015 before we see a bowl game or an NCAA Tournament again. Holy crap I just typed that. I need to recap just for myself. Can’t find eight more Big Ten wins this year, so probably no tourney. No real chance at a bowl this fall. Too young to make the Tournament next spring. And I can’t see six football wins in 2014 either. So the next chance at postseason play might be 760-some days from now in March of 2015.
Oh hey look Joshua Jones (football recruit) decommitted and in-state stud defensive lineman Josh Augusta cancelled his weekend visit (which means he’ll pick Mizzou on Sunday). Gee-Oh A-Lion-Eye GO.
Fine, I’ll finish us off. Illini Football in-conference in 2011 and 2012? 2-14. Illini Basketball in-conference in 2011/12 and 2012/13? 7-16. Combined? The last 39 times we’ve all sat down to watch an Illini Big Ten matchup? 9-30. Nine. And. Thirty. NINEANDTHIRTY. #nineandthirty
(nine and thirty)