But it was also a game where Illinois took 60 shots on basket because they were getting offensive rebounds and making the second shot. It was a game where NU hit 50% of their 3 pointers, but the 7 Illinois made from beyond the arc came at critical times during the game. It was another game where NU would start to close in, and they'd make a critical shot. It was that kind of a game, again.
It was also the end of Northwestern's 7 game home winning streak, as they drop to 8-8, 7-2 at Welsh Ryan. On the other hand, Illinois opens their season 18-0, with 4 Big 10 wins, 3 on the road, the first time they've ever won 18 straight games to open a season.
At times the Wildcats looked like they were going to slow down and catch Illinois - the Cats actually led the game early. Some early layups by Davor Duvancic and T.J. Parker put NU in the lead in the first minute, but then Luther Head hit 3 baskets for 8 points [2 3-s] and Illinois never trailed again.
The game finally turned out to be the Luther Head show, the high scoring Illini Guard finished with 26 points, including 12 from the arc. The Illini, as a team, also stole the ball, finishing with 11 steals, scoring 20 points off 16 turnovers.
For the Wildcats, Vedran Vukusic [AP Photo Right] led the Cats with 20, Forward Davor Duvancic was 3 of 4 from the arc and finished with 13. T.J. Parker continued his scoring tear, hitting for 12. Tim Doyle, and Mike Thompson both finished with 7 each.
Both Vukusic and Thompson were victimized by a very aggressive Illinois defense - lots of holding underneath by the Illini held Vukusic and Thompson to no points in the first half. Thompson finished 1 of 4 from the floor, and added 5 freethrows down the stretch to lift his point total to 7. Vukusic had only 2 free throws in the first half, but finished strong hitting 6 from the floor [3 from the arc].
After the game, NU Coach Bill Carmody talked about how Illinois scored a lot of points towards the end of the game...BC: That middle stretch of the second half, it just seemed as though we were exchanging hoops there for a long time and the span was 8 or 9 or 7, but we could never really crack that and we're just exchanging for about 8 or 9 minutes - never stopped them.What about the NU offense - were you able to do some of the things you're looking to do?BC: I think we shot the ball pretty well, but again, turnovers killed us. I don't know how many we had [16 Turnovers - 20 points off Turnovers] - it was just a lot of carelessness, I thought and credit Illinois' defense, but, things that I think could be eliminated, if you could just get half of that and then take those 8 shots, you make 4 of them, maybe its different, but they play you hard and they're very fast so its difficult to run some things.Before the ball game, Carmody told the WGN guys he wanted the Cats to shoot well, and establish an inside game but both inside guys were virtually scoreless. Did you address that at halftime?BC: Yes, get the ball inside, you know we ran a couple of things with Vedran, open looks to try and get him some open shots, but they had an awful lot of offensive rebounds in the first half that they rebounded and put back in - right down to the last play of the half.What is it about Illinois that brings out the best in Davor Duvancic?
They're not big but they're fast and they spread you out so much they get a lot of rebounds and you're spread out so its tough to box guys out from 20 feet sometimes.BC: I'd rather have him do great in the other 28 games and not do well here, you know what I mean?There was a point in the 2nd half where they started to pull away, Vedran knocks down a big 3 - did you maybe sense there was a swing in the works?
But yeah, he makes shots - basically he's making shots against these guys - he's doing an awful lot of extra shooting - you work at something usually you get good at it.BC: I thought that if he could have knocked down that one in the corner, in front of our bench, that would have really made, I think it would have gone from 7 to 4 or 8 to 5, it would have made a big difference but it seemed like he had a heck of a second half so - other guys have to come through also.And then there were 3 turnovers and the game turned back.BC: Again, when you have fast guys guarding you, it makes it rougher, but I'll look at the tapes, but I thought they were needless.Have you been able to identify things where the Cats are getting better over the past 4 games?BC: I know we can be a good team, I know that, but a couple of guys are going to have to start playing at a higher level - that's all I can say - because if you have to depend on Vedran all the time - I can see his body right now. Its getting skinnier and weaker.T.J. showed a little spark offensively up in Michigan and the first half for today...he's showing a lot more confidence.
Some of the other guys are going to have to come through and take some of the responsibility out there and I haven't seen that.BC: He's doing OK - [but] he's not the guy. He's running the offense pretty decently and looking for shots. That's what he has to do, he has to be agressive and I don't know how many shots - he took 9 shots? -The Cats now have a week off to rest and work on a few things...before they face Penn State next Saturday.
He's got to get between 9 and 12 shots every game and run the game
The thing thats bothering me is the other end of the court - we're not stopping anybody.BC: We really have to look at our defense and see why ... shooting so well against us. They only shot 7 of 21 from 3 but it sure seemed a lot better than that to me.
Maybe it was just key shots that they did, so, they've got a very good team.
Like I say - its a very good team.
the WGN Post Game Show
with Dave Eanet & Bob Hildebrand
and may have been edited for clarity
Beat 'em All!
|Talk about it on the Purple Boards
and WGN Radio