Little needs to be said in regards to Illinois’ disappointing effort in Saturday’s 74-51 loss to Wisconsin.
First, hats off to the Badgers on what was their most complete game of the season. Another top four finish in the Big Ten standings for Bo Ryan is starting to look better, after previous doubts about this year’s squad.
DJ Richardson was the Illini’s best player in this ball game, as he was determined to get to the rim in a second half flurry of points. I’d love to see Richardson continue to aggressively attack the basket, while also regaining confidence in his three point stroke.
Brandon Paul shot an abysmal 1-for-11 from the field, though he also attacked the hoop but was unable to convert on a few free throw attempts. Mike Bruesewitz was certainly a thorn in Paul’s side all day.
Tracy Abrams did not convert an assist in the game as the team’s starting point guard. In fact, Illinois as a team only assisted on two baskets all day.
Joseph Bertrand made some athletic finishes at the rim, as well as soaring for seven rebounds, but let his flashy ball handling get in the way of a few careless turnovers.
After back to back strong performances for the sophomore, Nnanna Egwu found himself on the bench for a majority of this one. Egwu picked up three first half fouls and his fourth early on in the second half.
Tyler Griffey was just as little help on Saturday, only knocking down one jumper late in the contest. Griffey was replaced by Sam McLaurin to start the second half, though McLaurin and fellow forward Myke Henry were also of little help.
Devin Langford made another brief appearance in the first half. Mike Shaw found himself on the floor more than he probably anticipated, guarding the in bounds pass during a full court press that caused a few Badger miscues.
A 1-3 start to Big Ten play will likely knock the Fighting Illini from the national rankings, as it should. While there should be some cause for concern for John Groce and Illini nation, there is still plenty of talent on our side of the court that this year’s team can turn it around.
First things first, the orange and blue must get back into the win column in their next two matchups. First they must beat in-state rival Northwestern in Champaign, followed up by a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska.
As a final note, any Illinois fan that hasn’t had the chance to take a trip up to Madison and the Kohl Center should definitely do so. While the outcome may be similar to today’s, it was neat seeing other fans there wearing their orange and blue.