Penn State–Illinois Preview
Wait…thats not real..
At some point you have to let the bad taste out of your mouth. For as much as it sucked to blow a lead against Michigan, it was in fact only one game in a long and difficult Big Ten season. If anything, last weeks game may serve as a reminder to the team that a win will take a 100% effort for 100% of the game; so if the team has to move on, then so must I.
Illinois has had some real issues with Penn State over the past two seasons. Bruce Webber just hasn’t been able to figure out the right combination of players to get it done against Ed. Last season consisted of two types of games. “How few points can I score?” and “How long can I wait before I pull out a win?” Since we’ve got the extremes out-of-the-way it would seem that the two teams are about due for a normal basketball game. This is Penn State basketball we’re talking about though, so something odd is bound to happen.
So far Illinois has done well in the Big Ten putting up a 3-0 record but while being able to dispatch a solid Northwestern squad, they had trouble beating a lowly Iowa team. Everybody has their off nights so it is safe to assume that the Illini will be ready to play a tough physical game. With four players averaging over 11 points a game it is going to be key to make sure that none of them catch fire or it could be a long night for the Lions.
Illinois has had issues with teams running aggressive man to man defense. This makes Tim Frazier a big key in the game plan tonight as long as he is able to stay out of foul trouble. Generally Illinois has opted for the outside shot this season, so if the Lions are able to force the ball inside they could help themselves out a lot. Mike Tisdale is a capable inside shooter, but the Lions would rather deal with him than a flurry of outside shooters.
Tonight is a crucial game for the Lions. Win, and you’ve still got a chance to turn the season around. Lose, and you’re starting down a slippery slope. Illinois is a beatable team, it will take patience, discipline and smart play for the Lions to pull it out.