The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
I am limiting myself to one half hour of typing and then I'm going to bed. If I give myself more time than that, I'll start repeating myself. There's really no takeaways from this game other than "we can't shoot so we're probably screwed", so why keep typing beyond a half hour?
We can't shoot. So we're probably screwed.
I did some research during the game and tweeted these stats. Illini three point shooting in the games against high-major opponents:
Michigan State 3-28
If you're scoring at home that's 20 for 100 from three in the games that have mattered. Twenty for one hundred. 20%.
Narrow that down to just Big Ten games? 7 for 53. WE ARE SHOOTING 13.2% FROM THREE IN BIG TEN GAMES. How is this even possible? Aren't we in "pick someone from the crowd and they could make more than 7 out of 53" territory now? Seven for fifty-three?
Without any outside shooting, we're sunk. If it doesn't improve, the season is over. We already have to win at least 10 of the next 17 games just to be close to the good side of the bubble, and now we're going to try to do that with our shooting hand tied behind our back. We're totally sunk, right?
Look, this is a game we were going to lose. Michigan State was preseason #1, it's early January, we're on the road in the Big Ten - even if we were a solid tournament team, this is still probably a loss.
But to shoot 3-28 from deep (after we went 3-14 against Maryland, 1-11 against Michigan, and 2-14 against Missouri) just cements that this team will struggle from beyond the arc all season. With that fatal flaw, opponents not named Nebraska or Northwestern will take away everything else. They'll dare us to shoot, and we won't be able to do it.
Which is just so sad. I was so excited for this basketball season. And now the Tournament berth I was dreaming about seems impossible. If you can't, like, shoot the basketball very well, you're probably not going to be a very good basketball team. And a quick check of the stats shows me that we are... 331st out of 353 Division I basketball teams when it comes to three point shooting. One spot ahead of Texas Southern; one spot behind Merrimack.
OK I'm calling an audible and will finish this post in the morning. I just can't even right now.
~7 hours and 13 minutes later~
Yeah, still upset. Not even close to OK. When I say that I broke during the Missouri loss, I really think I broke. I've watched the last two games angry and more angry, and I never watch games angry. I'm perhaps the most patient fan on the planet, and I just can't handle the fact that we're going to go 16-15 this season.
After giving John Groce the injury excuses for the 2015/16 season, I swore I would never stray from my original statement. Because of the history of the programs, football coaches at Illinois should be given five full years to see what they can produce and, also because of the history of the program and the resources available, Illinois basketball coaches should be given 2.5 years. See what the third recruiting class looks like, see what the third team looks like mid-January of their third season.
It's January of the third season, we have Kofi, we have Ayo, we have Giorgi, we have Trent, we have Andres, and we have Alan Griffin.... and we're 9-5 and didn't win any of our important non-conference games. Teams that should be well below us given where they were last year and the players they lost - Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State, Indiana - look better than us so far. If we lose on Sunday, we'll be 9-6 and will probably need an 11-5 finish to dance. Half of those games will be on the road, and we only won once on the road last year and once on the road the year before, so... can you really see us winning 3-4 road games?
This is a crisis. We're in big, big trouble. We can't shoot - THREE HUNDRED THIRTY FIRST NATIONALLY - and if we don't start at least hitting an average number of threes, there's absolutely no chance we roll off 11 more Big Ten wins. Which means we will miss the Tournament for the seventh straight year.
I haven't checked KenPom's projections yet (his prediction for our record). Let's do that together, shall we? KenPom says we will finish the season... 17-14. I don't think that's even in the NIT. How is this even happening? We're really going to sit home in March again?
I guess there's always a chance for a Wisconsin moment. I said these same things after the Eastern Michigan loss for the football team. I went on the radio and talked about how I was like that guy pinning everything on the wall and running red strings from page to page, trying to figure out what he missed at training camp. I was certain there was 7-5 talent on that team, and I couldn't understand how that talent lost to Eastern Michigan. Well, that talent then went on a run, beat #6, drilled Purdue, thumped Rutgers, and put together the largest comeback in school history at Michigan State. So it's possible we'll see the basketball team do the same. The Illinois basketball equivalent of Illini football rolling off four consecutive Big Ten wins is something like 9 straight wins, right? Maybe this basketball team wins nine straight some time soon?
I mean, it has to, right? For our sanity? We're all going to break soon, right? I think I'm going to break soon.
OK I'm probably past a half hour when you combine last night and this morning. I should stop now. I wanted to talk about The Worst Call In The History Of Organized Basketball but who cares? It's not like it mattered.
We can't shoot, and because of that, we're in big, big trouble.