The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


January 6, 2013

Illini make a statement

CHAMPAIGN —  Anyone sitting within 10 feet of the Assembly Hall court on Saturday had to beware.

Illinois basketball players were flying all over the place during the Fighting Illini’s 74-55 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Senior forward Tyler Griffey went sprawling for a loose ball in front of the team’s bench, sophomore guard Tracy Abrams slid into the Ohio State bench trying to extend a possession and senior guard D.J. Richardson crashed into the scorer’s table, bouncing the ball off of Ohio State’s Sam Thompson.

After each play, Illini coach John Groce and the rest of the team bench was up on their feet with encouragement.

“I love it,’’ Groce said. “Those are toughness plays. They are passion and inspiring plays.

“Anytime a guy sacrifices his body to make a play for his team that’s the highest level of teamism — if that’s even a word.’’

And while the first-year coach is creating his own vocabulary, there is no doubt that those type of plays were a major difference between Illinois losing it’s Big Ten opener at Purdue and beating the eighth-rated team in the nation by 19 points.

“I was disappointed with our toughness on Wednesday night, for the first time all year,’’ said Groce, admitting that playing with high effort and toughness isn’t an automatic for any player. “The guys did it today. We have done it a lot all season — it’s not this is the first day we did it.

“We got back to work to get back to who we are.’’

And the Illini (14-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten) got back to who they were during practices on Thursday and Friday.

“We compete every day in practice,’’ said Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul, who sporting a few ice bags on his legs. “We had better carry over to the game. We not only executed on offense today, but we defended and rebound better.’’

And what about their physical drills in practice?

“There is a lot of diving on the floor, taking charges and things that basically carry over into the game situations,’’ said Paul.

And according to Ohio State head coach Thad Matta, a native of Hoopeston, that is typical of Groce.

“He has done a tremendous job,’’ said Matta, who had Groce as his assistant coach for eight seasons. “He has these guys playing at a high level.

“As I told him when he took the job, you just walked into a heck of a situation. You have players and they have been coached. He’s done a tremendous job of putting his stamp on it.’’

The Buckeyes (11-3, 1-1) had troubles early with turnovers, allowing the Illini to open a double-digit lead (25-11) in the first 10 minutes.

Illinois scored 16 of its 37 first-half points after Ohio State offensive miscues.

“Our 16 turnovers,’’ said Matta when asked what he saw on the postgame statistical sheet. “We don’t turn the ball over. That was probably the biggest thing. We weren’t even getting shots up because of our turnovers.’’

The Buckeyes came into Saturday’s contest averaging just over 10 turnovers a contest and they had 11 in the first half.

“We got some points off of turnovers that ignited us,’’ Groce said. “In addition to that, our execution was good when we were in the half-court offense.’’

Illinois, which ranks third in college basketball with 9.5 3-pointers per game, was 14-of-19 inside of the arc in the first half and for the game, the Illini were 20-of-31 from 2-point range and 8-of-27 from 3.

“We are a team that is capable of making a lot of 3s, but when that doesn’t happen — we have to pick up other aspects of our game,’’ said Paul, who had 19 points and a pair of 3-pointers.

And two of the biggest other aspects of the Illinois victory on Saturday were defense and rebounding.

Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas scored a game-high 24 points, but the junior forward got his offense with 21 shots.

“I think we had better pride on defense,’’ Paul said. “We usually do a good job of contesting shots and we wanted (Thomas) to take a lot of shots to get his points.’’

But the biggest difference between Thomas and Paul on Saturday was their supporting casts.

Ohio State had only one other player reach double figures with Craft getting 11; while Illinois had four guys with 12 or more.

“We weren’t executing at the level we needed to execute at,’’ Matta said. “For whatever reason, we couldn’t get into that flow.’’

After Paul’s 19, there was Nnanna Egwu with a career-high 16, Tracy Abrams had 13 and Joseph Bertrand came off the bench with 12.

“It’s all about getting a good flow on offense,’’ said Egwu. “We had good motion. We played very well and we passed the ball very well.’’

The victory was the first Big Ten Conference victory for Groce and it came against his former boss, but that didn’t matter to the first-year coach.

“Every game counts the same — win or lose,’’ he said.

But, it did come before the first sellout crowd at the Assembly Hall since last year’s loss to Wisconsin.

And it was the largest margin of victory against the top-10 opponent since Illinois beat No. 2 UCLA 110-83 on Dec. 4, 1964.

“We just need this game in general,’’ Paul said. “People got crazy after our last loss. It’s a long season. This is just one game.’’

And the next one is just as big for the Illini as they will host the ninth-rated Minnesota Golden Gophers in an 8 p.m. game on Wednesday.

Text Only
  • Danville Post 210 Speakers fall to Rantoul CHARLESTON — Playing five games in five days finally took its toll on the Danville Post 210 Speakers.Rantoul’s Tanner McLain delivered a game-winning, two-out single to left to give his team a 6-5 victory over Danville in an elimination game of the F

    July 24, 2014

  • Juniors continue to play at Danville Tennis Open DANVILLE — The juniors were still on the court in the Greater Danville Tennis Open on Wednesday as three division titles were given out.Rachael Lewis won the girls 18 and under singles title with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Lauren Ellis, while the team of Er

    July 24, 2014

  • SPT- CN0723- Dans photo 2 Thurston gets first win DANVILLE — Getting those Ws is the goal of every pitcher.Danville’s Chase Thurston has been seeking his first collegiate victory all year. The former Danville High standout finally got it on Tuesday night when the Danville Dans defeated the Springfie

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT- CN0723 - Dustbowl photo 1 Shooting Stars sprint past MB Squad DANVILLE —Tuesday’s action from the Dustbowl at the David S. Palmer Arena featured two games in the Girls High School Division with two local teams — MB Squad and Shooting Stars — squaring off in round-robin play to advance to Sunday’s championship.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pitching boosts Speakers CHARLESTON — The Danville Post 210 Speakers’ pitching is coming along at the right time.With strong performances from Austin Millholland and Dalton Strawser, the Speakers defeated Piatt County 5-1 to move on in the Fourth Division Tournament.“The sto

    July 23, 2014

  • SPT - CN0722 - Post 210 Baseball photo 1 Speakers stay alive TILTON — Danville Post 210 baseball got their revenge Sunday afternoon and did it in style. After losing to Shelby County in the Fourth Division Tournament opener on Saturday, Danville had to win two games on Sunday if they wanted to advance and keep

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0722 - VCS photo Youth gets served at VCS Fan Appreciation Night OAKWOOD — The Vermilion County Speedway Fan Appreciation Night was more a spotlight for the youth on and off the track.While kids in the stands had bike races and decided the order for racers in certain feature races, there was a bunch of kids going

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Roundup: Dans drop third straight SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Ninth-inning rallies are becoming the norm for the Danville Dans.Unfortunately, all three of the comebacks have failed to produce a victory.On Monday night, Danville shortstop Matt Henderson delivered a two-run single in the ninth

    July 22, 2014

  • No Headline Provided TODAYBasketballDustbowl at Palmer ArenaLegion BaseballFourth Division Tournament at Charleston: Danville Post 210 Speakers vs. Piatt County, 7:15 p.m.Prospect League BaseballSpringfield Sliders at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.TennisGreater Danville Open a

    July 22, 2014

  • Legion Baseball Galnce LEGION BASEBALLIllinois Fourth Division TournamentSaturday, July 19 scoresAt CharlestonGame 1 — Mattoon 14, Charleston 4Game 2 — Piatt County 14, Paris 0At DanvilleGame 3 — Rantoul 10, Lincoln 1Game 4 — Shelby County 1, Danville 0Sunday, July 20 scor

    July 22, 2014

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
Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return
NDN Video
Facebook Is Officially A Mobile Company 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Swiftair Loses Contact With Air Algerie Aircraft Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid