The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

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.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - CN0821 - GeoRF photo 1 Realizing potential GEORGETOWN — Ask almost anyone in Vermilion County about the Georgetown-Ridge Farm football team and the typical response you will get will talk about their talent.And this season is no different.The Buffaloes return 10 starters from last year’s play

    August 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vikings compete in Classic BLOOMINGTON — The Danville boys golf team ended up 22nd as a team at the Raider Classic at the Den Golf Course on WednesdayReed Krynski led the Vikings with a score of 91 on the par 72 course, with Christian Montgomery scoring a 97, Tristan Wolfe an

    August 21, 2014

  • SPT - CN0820 - BisHenn photo 1 Going the extra mile BISMARCK — Bismarck-Henning coach Mark Dodd has really enjoyed the last few years.Not just because of the two straight Vermilion Valley Conference titles and a almost three-year unbeaten run in regular season action, but because of working with playe

    August 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • LOCAL ROUNDUP: Trojans defeat Chargers in volleyball opener CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. — It took all five sets but the Covington Lady Trojans opened the year with a hard-fought 24-26, 25-22, 25-21, 19-25, 16-14 victory over the North Montgomery Chargers in prep volleyball action on Tuesday night.Brooke Ahrens led t

    August 20, 2014

  • SPT - CN0819 - Seeger photo 1 Patriots make changes WEST LEBANON, Ind. – Success for the Seeger Patriot football team this season will depend on two things.They will rely on technique and teamwork to reach their goals.“We’ve got a little bit of size, a little bit of speed and a few guys with a lot of

    August 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • B-H's Warren claims Urbana Kick-Off Classic URBANA — Bismarck-Henning’s David Warren kicked off his senior season in style, winning the Urbana Kick-Off Classic at the Urbana Country Club.Warren shot a 4-over 76 to earn a one-stroke victory over Champaign Centennial’s Isaac Overman (77), while

    August 19, 2014

  • SPT - CN0817 - North Vermillion photo 1 Trying to fill big holes CAYUGA, Ind. — Brayden Woodard and his senior teammates on the 2013 North Vermillion football team left their mark on the Wabash River Conference.The Falcons won back-to-back undefeated league titles and they enter this season with a 15-game winning

    August 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0816 - Fountain Central photo 2 New names, same goals VEEDERSBURG, Ind. — While the names might change, the goals and expectations for the Fountain Central football team remain the same.The Mustangs, who went 11-2 last year with a sectional championship, are looking to replace 60 percent of their offens

    August 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT- CN0815 - Covington football photo 1 Trojans' experience could be key COVINGTON, Ind. – The Covington football team enters this season on a positive note. The Trojans lost only five seniors to graduation, so team hopes to build on its many returning players.“We’re a year old and stronger,” said Covington head coach Tra

    August 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Voles set to host Jamboree DANVILLE — For the eighth year, the Vermilion Voles Vintage Base Ball club will invite other clubs in the Midwest to Kennekuk County Park on Saturday for the “Uncle Joe” Cannon Base Ball Jamboree.The event will feature four teams with the Voles, the

    August 15, 2014

E-edition
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: http://smu.gs/1iCWKnP

Must Read
AP Video
Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson Today in History August 21 Holder Pledges Top Investigators for Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List
NDN Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Are Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Breaking Up? Motorcyclist Sticks Landing This 'Breaking Bad' Reunion is the Most Hilarious Thing You'll See All Day! President Obama talks about who James Foley was Nicki Minaj Unleashes Her 'Anaconda' On the World Watch Helicopter Perform Aerial Ballet Can Buckeyes fill Miller's void? Victoria's Secret Models Prove They're in Fighting Shape How Brian Hoyer Stacks Up With Johnny Manziel Taylor Swift Reveals New Album 1989 is Full-On Pop Crews rescue elderly woman trapped inside flooded minivan Man Poses for New Mugshot Photo Wearing Shirt with Old Mugshot Photo On It Disquieting times for Malaysia's 'fish listeners' Caught On Camera: Johnny Manziel Obscene Gesture Rita Ora Embraces the Ice Bucket Challenge Bird surprises soccer player Ashley Young during game Chapter Two: Never too late to become an artist Ice Bucket Challenge Goes Viral, Raises Over $15M For ALS