The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


February 21, 2013

Illini hope work pays off

CHAMPAIGN —  Illinois men’s basketball coach John Groce tries to get the most out of his players, both in practice and in games. The hard work may be finally paying huge dividends.

The Fighting Illini returns to action tonight when they welcome the Penn State Nittany Lions to the Assembly Hall in Champaign.

The Illini, winners of four straight games and climbing in the Big Ten standings, currently are 19-8 overall and 6-7 in the Big Ten.

“Obviously we’re excited about the direction that our defense is going right now, and the guys have done a great job of focusing on game plans,” Groce said.

The starting lineup for the previous few games has been based on how players have graded out on defense in games, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that players that aren’t in the lineup are not contributing.

“I find it hilarious that people make a big deal over Tracy (Abrams) not being in the starting lineup, but in all actuality, he played 30 minutes. It is all about how they grade out on defense both in practice and in games, and Joseph (Bertrand) graded out a little better than Abrams did,” Groce said.

The Illini held Northwestern scoreless for nearly 10 minutes from the end of the first half into the second, all the while tightening up their defense and limiting the Wildcats from shooting beyond the perimeter.

“I thought we didn’t give them a lot of clean looks, and we knew that they were going to come in and shoot threes, and make some,” Groce said about the preparation that he had for Northwestern.

Brandon Paul, who only scored eight points against the Wildcats, probably played one of his best games of the season, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists.

“I thought Brandon had one of his best all-around games on Sunday, and he doesn’t necessarily need to score 20 points for us to be successful,” Groce said.

The Nittany Lions come into the game with the Illini at 8-17 overall, and are winless in conference this season at 0-13. Penn State suffered a huge blow to their program early in the season when preseason all-Big Ten player Tim Frazier was lost for the season. In Frazier’s absence, the Nittany Lions have had to rely on D. J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall to shoulder the load. Before Frazier was injured, he was averaging just over 16 points per game.

“Their (Penn State’s) two guards, Marshall and Newbill really push the ball, and even though they have been through a lot of adversity this season, Coach (Patrick) Chambers has had them playing better basketball the past couple of games,” Groce said.

“But it is not about them, it is about us, and this is the next game on the schedule, and you have to bring it every single night and build on what we have done in the past few games.”

Tonight’s game is set to tip off at 7:15 p.m., and can be seen on the Big Ten Network, as well as WDAN-AM 1490, WDNL-102.1 and statewide on the Illini Sports Network.

Text Only
  • SPT - CN0423 - Danville girls track photo 1 Record-setting day for Hall DANVILLE -- Athletes, coaches and fans were all giving advice to Danville sophomore Imani Hall in the high jump. While she appreciated the encouragement, Hall just focused on what she had been doing in practice for the past few weeks and it worked. H

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0423 - Danville baseball photo Vikings no match for Tigers, loss 11-3 DANVILLE -- Urbana came a calling on Danville at Danville Stadium for a Big 12 Conference game with its ace Conner Gremar (Parkland College recruit) on the mound. The Tigers also brought their hitting sticks with them to defeat Danville 11-3. Danvill

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-CN0423 - Seeger softball photo 1 Patriots take over in sixth, beat Mustangs WEST LEBANON, Ind. - Seeger hosted Fountain Central in softball and the lead went back and forth through much of the game. All that changed in the sixth inning when the Patriots sent 11 batters to the plate and scored a half-dozen runs on seven hits

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vikings softball easily cruises past Chargers DANVILLE -- Alissa Peelman overcame a tough start and hit a home run as the Danville softball team beat Champaign Centennial 12-2 in Big 12 conference action on Tuesday. Peelman gave up both of the Chargers' runs in the first inning but only gave up

    April 23, 2014

  • SPT - CN0422 - Salt Fork SB photo secondary Storm cruise past Cornjerkers CATLIN -- On a windy and drizzly afternoon in Catlin, two teams with a combined 16 wins and one loss met up in what seemed to be on paper a heavy weight fight in Vermilion Valley Conference play. The Salt Fork Storm came out of the gates strong and b

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0422 - Local roundup photo LOCAL ROUNDUP: Cox tosses no-hitter for Westville DANVILLE -- Westville right-hander Tanner Cox was in total control on Monday against the Schlarman Academy Hilltoppers at Danville Stadium. Cox tossed a five-inning perfect game, striking out 11 of the 15 batters he faced as the Tigers defeated the H

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Schedule TUESDAY Prep Baseball Fountain Central at Seeger, 3:30 p.m. Turkey Run at Covington, 4 p.m. Heritage at Schlarman Academy, 4:30 p.m. Hoopeston Area at Milford, 4:30 p.m. Urbana at Danville, 4:30 p.m. Prep Softball Fountain Central at Seeger, 3:30 p.m

    April 22, 2014

  • No Headline Provided PREP BASEBALL At Bismarck Oakwood 12, Bismarck-Henning 1 Oakwood 213 121 2 -- 12 16 0 Bismarck-Henning 000 100 0 -- 1 4 4 WP -- Taylor Turner. LP -- Strawser. 2B -- Turner, Slade. RBIs -- Landon Turner 2, Slade 2, Anderson 2, Girton, Vinson, Abbott.

    April 22, 2014

  • SPT- CN0420 - Danville baseball photo 1 Vikings continue to learn Vikings continue to learn BY AARON PATTERSON

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT- CN0420- NV Softball photo 2 The Mustangs, Falcons split twinbill VEEDERSBURG, Ind. - Too many mistakes cost the Fountain Central softball team any chance of defeating North Vermillion in the first game of their double header. At least that is how Mustang head coach Allison Alexander saw the game. "We had nine erro

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014

Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here:

Must Read
AP Video
NDN Video