Illini prey on Quincy Falcons

Illinois guard Chester Frazier (3) and forward James Augstine (40) fight aginst Qunicy´s Andre Muse (1) for the ball during the basketball game on Wednesday night at Assembly Hall. Illinois defeated Quincy, 78-52. Tessa Pelias

Illinois guard Chester Frazier (3) and forward James Augstine (40) fight aginst Qunicy´s Andre Muse (1) for the ball during the basketball game on Wednesday night at Assembly Hall. Illinois defeated Quincy, 78-52. Tessa Pelias

By Courtney Linehan

Bruce Weber says he never runs plays in exhibition games. He doesn’t want to give other teams any more scouting material than necessary. But more importantly, he wants his players to make shots happen on their own.

Illinois struggled to do that Wednesday night, but still pulled out an easy 78-52 victory over Quincy. While the Illini made progress, players and Weber agreed that they’re not where they’d like to be.

“You always want better,” Weber said. “But it gives me something to yell at, something to watch film at and keep going.”

It took time for Illinois to get into the groove of the game, as they shot 48 percent from the field – and just 16.7 percent from three-point range – in the first half. Quincy took advantage, coming out with energy for what they considered the biggest game of the season.

The Falcons stayed with Illinois deep into the first half, closing within two points with 4:24 remaining.

“I thought we really competed in the first half and played as tough and as hard as we could,” Quincy coach Marty Bell said. “Illinois really earned their baskets.”

Illinois’ defense struggled early in the game. Augustine said that has been the team’s biggest concern of the preseason, and will continue to be an area of emphasis.

“Coach Weber said the offense will come but won’t come until December or January,” Augustine said. “But he said if we play solid defense we’ll win early.”

Illinois’ biggest problem, though, was its turnovers. The team gave up 20 turnovers, including 13 in the first half.

“That’s the key, right there. I think we were just a little lackadaisical; we didn’t take care of the ball,” Brown said. “We’ll probably be running for that soon.”

Things improved in the second half, as Illinois did not miss a shot attempt until more than seven minutes into the period. Brown hit a pair of back-to-back threes from well above the key, and Illinois’ defense picked up 18 rebounds compared to Quincy’s 13.

“They made us rush, they made us hurry, they were out there pressuring us,” Bell said. “They forced us to make hurried or rushed plays, and sometimes that’s all it takes to get turnovers.”

While Weber would like to see better work in the post and better use of possession time, he said he’s not disappointed with where the team currently stands. With just eight days until South Dakota State comes to Assembly Hall for the season opener, Weber plans to work his players hard without wearing them out. He wants players to step up and earn their minutes as the regular season begins.

“They’ve got to be productive and gain our confidence,” Weber said. “Now it’s for keeps, we can’t play around with it. One of the things we can do, I think, is be a very good defensive team.”