Penn State-Illinois: 38-33? What the Hell Was That?

Nick SheSenior Analyst IFebruary 19, 2009

Last night's Illinois vs. Penn State game needs to have all tapes and evidence of its existence destroyed, nobody should have to sit through that again. A game that saw the Nittany Lions lead 17-15 at halftime and pull out "miraculous" 38-33 victory in Assembly Hall on Wednesday night was bar-none, the worst played basketball game I have ever seen.

What was so bad about it, both teams were shooting poorly and as a result had the game finish with an extremely low final score? No, the way the two teams ran their offenses was in fact so bad that it is hard for me to be able to hand it to the defenses of both squads.

Penn State did not seem to understand the concept of running any kind of motion offense against Illinois. Nearly every time down court, it was the Nittany's spreading out the floor, trying to get Talor Battle beat Chester Frazier from the top of the key and get a three on two advantage for Penn State down low. 

No backside screens or cutters the vast majority of the first half and when Penn State began flashing players more, Battle often missed dishing the ball off for wide open layups.  Not that it likely mattered, Penn State made converting shots from inside the key seem harder to do than find the cure for the common cold.

When Battle did penetrate to the inside he found Jamelle Cornley on several occasions down low. Cornley's line: 2-of-8 from the field, seven rebounds, and a pair of assists to go with four turnovers.

Cornley had to have feared the Illini's size advantage inside as he had to go against the likes of Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis, 7'1'' and 6'9'' respectively, Cornley checks in at only 6'5'' himself.

With that size advantage you would think Illinois would have had a huge advantage down low. In fact, they did, a couple of times when they tried getting the ball down low Tisdale was able to literally back right down and power up to put in a pair of layups. 

Other times however he did he best Cornley impression, faded away from the basket and multiple hook shots and fade-aways fall short.

Why not just use the half-foot advantage and either get a layup or get fouled? Tisdale's play was especially poor for the Illini last evening.

The offensive scheme for Illinois confused me as well. Davis and Tisdale both had the size advantage I already mentioned and should have been forces down low. Why then are they at the top of the key setting screens to a point guard in Chester Frazier who didn't try and do anything before the shot clock was inside of 10 seconds?

Seems to me if I am having vast troubles scoring that eating clock on my possession is not a great idea when I need points.

Why Penn State and Illinois were so reluctant to change things last night confuses me to no end. There were multiple things both teams could have done to have better results offensively and neither did so, giving us a miraculous 38-33 final score.

It will be tough to top this poor outing for both sides in two weeks when the teams meet in the Happiest of Valleys, maybe by using my advice we could see the teams reach a one-hundred point total though instead of a measley 71-point outing.