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March 22, 2021 @ 12:25 PM

In this COVID year, we can only go by what we see on the broadcasts, but the two things that always will bother me is that Illinois looked tired and Illinois made no adjustments. I hate saying it so harshly, but I think we can pin both those things (And thus this loss) on Brad Underwood. Remember: He had almost all of the starters still in with TWO MINUTES LEFT in the first-round game when the Illini were up by almost 30. Underwood could easily have put in all of the reserves at the 5:00 mark, but elected not to. On the second point, I saw a stat somewhere saying that all of the losses for Illinois this season came against teams that entered that particular game 150th or slower nationally in pace of play. Of course, Loyola is a very slow-pace team. I'm not saying Illinois needed to come out and run a hard full-court press from the opening tip, but at the very least I would have started out with an extended man-to-man picking up at around three-quarter court and make Loyola use energy/effort in the back-court bringing up the ball. Get them out of their comfort zone at least a little bit from the start of the game. For a coaching staff supposedly building this program from the ground up analytically, not forcing a quicker pace against a team that loves to play slow was a glaring error in the original game-plan, and it is almost impossible to understand why there was no adjustment to a more aggressive press/trap defense as the game continued. Finally, near the end of the game, there was a "press" but even that was half-hearted with only one trap. Most coaches in that spot will try to trap twice as the goal is to try to make the offensive team throw at least three passes in the back-court. The more passes thrown, the higher a chance of a bad pass that either ends up out of bounds or in the defense's hands.

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