Monday, January 21, 2013
Illini struggling to contain perimeter
By Matt Giles
UPDATE: On Friday we wrote about Illinois' struggles to contain the perimeter, and that's clearly something that John Groce would like to fix.
Groce tells Marcus Jackson of The News-Gazette, "Defensively (the) team hasn't been linked together enough. Haven't defended 3 well, haven't guarded ball well."
At 1-4 in Big Ten play, things will need to turn around fast for the Fighting Illini or they could be in serious danger of missing the NCAA tournament even with big wins against Butler, Gonzaga and Ohio State on their resume.
Illinois' recent Northwestern tilt was not a positive one for the Orange Krush. The Illini, using 63 or so possessions, scored just .85 points per possession, a stagnant offensive display that gave further evidence to this simple observation: when the squad is not connecting from the perimeter, opponents do not have a tough time shutting down John Groce's attack.
Marcus Jackson of the Champaign News-Gazette has an interesting note about the Illini's struggles. Per Ken Pomeroy, the team is second in the Big Ten for percentage of threes attempted in relation to attempted field goals, but during the course of Illinois' last one hundred shots from deep, Jackson tweets Groce's team has made just 24.5 percent of those attempts. Included in that total is their statistics against Northwestern: three of twenty from beyond the arc.
We find a emphasis on three-point defense slightly misleading; a team could pressure an opponent in a similar fashion ten times, but the opposing team could shoot lights out that day and make nine shots. That same effort, then, could be applied in the next game, and a foe might make just one long-range shot. Steve Masiello of Manhattan, a team that currently can't stop anyone from beyond the arc (40.8 percent) but last year allowed opponents to convert only 33.1 of their threes, had a very interesting quote (per John Templon of Big Apple Buckets) on the subject of long-range defense: "Teams are making very tough shots against us. It's just one of those things that have been happening to us. We know if we stay with our style, make them make challenging shots, teams have been doing it, and over the course of a year it's going to be 34 percent." However, we have to mention that during the Illinois' one hundred three span, teams are making 48 percent of their threes, so we wonder whether this torrid outside display will regress or will Groce and his staff made some potential defensive changes.