Hoping for a turnaround
By Jeff Mayfield
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[March 10, 2014]
While the Illinois Fighting
Illini are in the midst of a less-than-stellar season, there is
still time to turn it around. The schedule has been anything but
kind to the Illini this season. They still have road tilts with
Minnesota, Michigan State and Iowa and get to host Nebraska and
Michigan. It doesn't appear on paper like there are a lot of
available wins out there. However, some thought like that earlier in
the season, and yet Illinois found ways to win. They may be lucky to
find their way to the bus right now.
So what is the recipe for recovery? That's the $64,000 question.
It starts with
good, or should I say better, shot selection (or at least
sacrificing a good shot for an even better one —
Illini shooting only 28 percent on 3s for the season).
Everybody must box
out on every shot.
Free throws have
to be converted (especially front ends).
transition baskets must be pursued (taking pressure off
player must "bring it" every single night —
no nights off.
An unsung hero or
two would really help.
When the team is
off to a good start, it must be sustained for 40 minutes.
This list will have to suffice for now, because it just makes me
sad to read what I just typed... It makes me sadder to watch our
games the last few weeks. I think we have good effort. I believe our
coaches are coaching their brains out. The team is just in a funk.
[to top of second column]
At least the pressure should be off by now as no game is probably
a "must" win at this point. Maybe the team will be more relaxed.
Maybe the swagger will return. Maybe the free throws will drop.
Maybe there will be some games with 50 percent shooting. Maybe a lot
I'm just hoping that the Illini can turn it around the rest of
the way and not only surprise their detractors, but maybe surprise
themselves along the way. It sure won't get any easier. But I do
remember a team that Lon Kruger had a few seasons ago that were left
for dead like this one. They arrived at the Big Ten tourney on
nobody's radar. All they did was win three games in three days and
made it all the way to the championship game. Once you get there,
anything can happen. Wouldn't it be great if this team did something
like that? That's what I'm hoping for!
[By JEFF MAYFIELD]
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