In the final 13 minutes, Northwood didn’t get a single offensive rebound and the Timberwolves were just 7-of-18 from the field, while the Illini were 10-of-15 during the same stretch.
“At the end of the game, our defense was better than it was in the first half and that fueled us getting out in transition,’’ Groce said. “But, I’m concerned about the 17 offensive rebounds. They did get 24 against Miami (Ohio), and they are juniors and seniors and (Wes) Wilcox’s case, he is 25 or older. We were playing against some men down there, which is good. We needed that, but we have to find a way not to give up 17 offensive rebounds.’’
In a game that featured “wild runs” according to Groce, did he think it would help his team?
“You don’t want to go through runs, you want to be more consistent,’’ he said. “But, can you find a positive in that, can you turn lemons into lemonade, yeah, sure. You play 35 games and you are going to see everything.
“To experience that and go to the film, you can show them how you cannot tie your defensive effort and execution to whether you are making shots on offense.’’
Groce pointed out that that separating offense and defense is something last year’s experience team with seniors D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Tyler Griffey and Sam McLaurin did very well, especially during the NCAA Tournament victory over Colorado.
“This may be a great tool to teach that,’’ said Groce, who also called a timeout in the second half after allowing his team to fight through a scoring run in the first exhibition against McKendree. “I thought we were getting tentative. I didn’t like the look in our eyes.
“I just wanted to remind them, this is who we are. We are fine here, show great poise and let’s get some stops.’’