Loyola Therapy Session

Mar 23, 2021

Tyler and I were going to do a back-and-forth post. But then we decided that maybe it was better to just press record. We didn't talk beforehand, we didn't discuss what topics we'd cover - I just pressed record and we worked it all out in real time. Here's 75 minutes of therapy after such a devastating end to an amazing season.


HNLINI on March 23, 2021 @ 10:00 PM

If we weren't good enough to make the Final 4, we simply weren't good enough. As you said, "You're supposed to beat the 4 seed when you are the #3 overall seed."

While we weren't beat by a better or more talented team, we were beat by a slightly worse, but highly talented team that executed far better. However, it's not like we were so much better than the field (Gonzaga excepted), Loyola, or our schedule that we only had a loss or two heading into the tournament. Yeah, we got hot at the right time, and won a substantial number of games in February and March, but we weren't steamrolling the teams we played. But we lost a lot of games this year.

I think very highly of this team, as a talented but flawed team that put together a great run and likely peaked a week or two too early. The disappointment is acute because we hadn't tasted the tournament for so long, and we led ourselves to believe that our talented but flawed team likely had a better shot to win it all than they actually did. The entire B1G has underperformed, so I tend to believe that we were all somewhat misled by the inferences we made from KenPom, Torvik and other advanced statistics that convinced us that our league and team were better than other teams -- you still have to play and win the games to crown a champ. Like we said about Michigan not playing the games -- anyone can beat anyone on any given day.

mwb27 on March 23, 2021 @ 11:00 PM

Yes, as a 1 seed we should beat any other lower seed. But I think if we play Loyola in the 3 or 4th round, we are at a different team level. We are past the nervousness of getting past the first weekend and our first tourney in 8 years. We are more settled in.

I’d say we are more ready to play a better team the further we go in the tournament. Mentally, for an inexperienced tournament team, You aren’t ready to play a 3 seed in round 2, as a 1 seed. You are ready to play an 8 seed.

We did get outcoached and outplayed, but the seeding played a role and that is very frustrating. Fair seeding plays a role and it hurt us. In my opinion.

ATOillini on March 24, 2021 @ 07:56 AM

Excellent job gentlemen. My only frustration is the 5000 or so times I tried to interject, but apparently my microphone was not working. A few thoughts/opinions:

  1. Upon further reflection I do think we were both physically and mentally exhausted. The buildup the last few weeks may have taken its toll just at the wrong time.

  2. Tyler.......Actually Kofi scored the last 5 points of the first half and Ayo the first 2 of the second half, so we did have a bridged 7-0 run there.

  3. In 55 years of following Illini basketball I can still clearly see the Sean Higgins rebound and put back 32 years later. That’s my personal greatest devastation. Still feel that was the most talented Illini team I’ve witnessed.

  4. I do believe we’re officially back. Miller and Curbelo are going to give opponents fits. To steal a short phrase from Robert, Illinois basketball is “a thing” again.

  5. Robert....I had to chuckle when you discussed your seat location and your personal level of “fan pain”. I think you should run with that one and tell people you live in Fanpaign, IL.

Keep the faith, and thanks for all your efforts in this crazy season.

IlliNYC on March 24, 2021 @ 08:39 AM

I agree that the team looked and played exhausted--this is/was a particularly exhausting year with COVID and the bubble, that last stretch of games was a lot, Ayo with a broken nose and concussion, staying in Indy that extra time, maybe even going to OT against OSU. The B1G pushing to get all those games in looks like a mistake for the conference in hindsight.

Would we trade the last amazing 2 months for a longer tournament run? I don't know that I would give it that stretch + the BTT for even an elite 8. Yes to a Final Four & championship of course.

And yes, it matters that Loyola was under seeded. Sure, it's a game we should have been able to win, but we were the only 1 seed that had to play a top 10 team in the first weekend, and we're the only 1 seed out. That's not a coincidence.

iluvrt on March 25, 2021 @ 03:17 PM

I agree that BIG10 tourney championship and big 10 victory run was some of the most exciting Illini BB since the 2005 team.

danny on March 24, 2021 @ 02:58 PM

If that’s a therapy session, one is enough. I felt worse after listening.

orangejulius on March 24, 2021 @ 03:56 PM

I think it was therapy for Robert, not you.

orangejulius on March 24, 2021 @ 04:17 PM

We showed before in this season that we were vulnerable to a good mid-major (see Ohio game, see Nebraska on the road).
There are likely many factors which contributed to this loss: I would rank them as follows:

a) Loyola being good/under-seeded b) Ayo's injury - I know Ayo and that was no Ayo. c) general exhaustion - the amount of games we played on the road during the last month is insane. 11 games in 30 days, 10 on road. 7 games in the last 21 days of our season, all on road. Loyola's schedule: by comparison: 7 games in 30 days, 4 on the road.
d) Loyola playing better than they are in this 1 game. See 50%+ shooting and 40% from 3. e) Our weaknesses could be exposed by a good coach, such as Kofi's inability to pass out of the post.
f) us playing our worst game of the season, 28% from 3 with many being good looks, 17 turnovers

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