Illinois Basketball: Three Focuses for the Illini Against Michigan
The Illinois Basketball team matches up against the Michigan Wolverines tonight in Champaign.
Illinois hasn’t started the Big Ten slate off well. While many fans expected the Illini to be 1-2 at this juncture, the way they managed to get there makes me slightly uncomfortable.
The start to the conference season is why tonight’s game against the Wolverines is so important.
Illinois needs to beat Michigan and here are the three focuses for tonight.
The first focus is to stay out of foul trouble. I know this sounds like a simple concept but the Illini have failed to pick up on it at times.
Against Indiana, Malcolm Hill had three fouls in literally the first 3:31 of the game. This handicapped the team and helped the Hoosiers to a big lead.
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Illinois needs their best players on the court to win games and having someone like Hill sitting that earlier is a death sentence.
Focus No. 2 is to tighten up the rotations and stop being so scattered with substitutions. Both of these go hand-in-hand.
If things are going well to start the game with the lineup you have, ride that lineup out until players are tired or things start going off the rails.
This can be done throughout the game as well. In the last game against Indiana, the Illini were making a run at the end of the contest and got it back to, I believe, an 11-point deficit.
When Illinois got it back to that point, John Groce substituted out the players who had fought to get it back to only 11 points and put in a few new players.
The Illini were completely done after that and ended up losing by 16 points. If something isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
The final focus for the Illini against Michigan is to have Te’Jon Lucas as the No. 2 point guard. I know, you haven’t heard this before.
Lucas is a better point guard than Jaylon Tate no matter how you look at it. This is a fact and I would like to see an argument against it.
The press conference for Groce yesterday gave me some hope that we will get to see Lucas more tonight. This is exciting news and hopefully, it is not too little too late.
This season isn’t lost, yet, and I think having Lucas play 15-20 minutes per game will help this team tremendously.
Illinois needs this win tonight against Michigan. If they can pull it off then I think they still have a shot at the postseason.
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