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Identity Crisis?

December 9, 2009

Many of my fellow Illini fans (you know who you are) have recently been voicing their displeasure with the defense (or lack there of).

This should come as no surprise asshats. I, along with everyone who covers the Illini, told you this was an offense-first team. Surprise!…?…!?

But here’s the deal: This is a good thing. Trust me.

As much fun as it was to watch Illinois play games in which both teams scored sub-50 points last year and as much of a pain as it is to have this version of Illini basketball struggle to score points at times, an offensively dominant team will bring you a championship.

Because everyone can score in the NBA, defense often separates the good from the bad. But in college, some teams (such as last year’s Illini) are scoring starved. Thus the advantage is with a squad that can just put up big numbers on a consistent basis.

To prove my point, let’s do a little comparison shopping. Here are the stats for the 08-09 Illini and 09-10 Illini through the first nine games…

The 2008-2009 Illini

Illinois 66, Eastern Washington 50
Illinois 72, Texas A&M-CC 53
Illinois 69, Vanderbilt 63
Illinois 78, Jackson State 64
Illinois 69, Kent State 63
Illinois 48, Tulsa 44
Illinois 74, Clemson 76
Illinois 76, Georgia 42
Illinois 68, Hawaii 58

Record: 8-1
Points scored: 620
Points allowed: 513
Average points scored: 69
Average points allowed: 57

The 2009-2010 Illini

Illinois 96, SIUE 69
Illinois 80, Northern Illinois 61
Illinois 94, Providence 48
Illinois 78, Wofford 64
Illinois 58, Utah 60
Illinois 68, Bradley 72
Illinois 76, Clemson 74
Illinois 84, Boise State 77
Illinois 79, Vanderbilt 68

Record: 7-2
Points scored: 713
Points allowed: 593
Average points scored: 79
Average points allowed: 66

There’s some interesting stuff there, but here’s the most compelling numbers…

08-09 Average margin of victory: +12
09-10 Average margin of victory: +13

So even though last year’s team had a better defense and better record through the same number of games, the Scroing Illini are still beating opponents by a similar margin. The newest version of the Fighthing Webers aren’t worse than last year’s team. But I think we can all agree they have more potential.

Yeah, there are going to be games when everyone is cold and the Illini can’t find the basket to save their lives, but this team is relying on a lot of young players to generate points. Give them some time bros. Your patience will pay off. Trust me…

04-05 Illini average margin of victory: +16

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