Column: Illinois crashes the boards in win

By Lucas Deal

The Illinois basketball team successfully completed the exhibition portion of its schedule Wednesday night, defeating SIU-Edwardsville 76-57 at the Assembly Hall.

Defensively, Illinois’ performance was not nearly as strong as last week’s victory over Lewis, but the team’s performance on the glass was much improved.

Illinois out-rebounded SIUE 38-25 in the game for a differential of +13. That’s a 16-rebound improvement from last week’s game.

“Rebounding was much better today,” Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. “But I don’t think (SIUE) really crashed the boards. I guess every game is a little different.”

SIUE head coach Marty Simmons agreed.

“They crushed us on the boards, but we knew they would,” he said.

“We couldn’t emulate their strength and aggressivenes,” he added.

Right from the get-go, it was obvious that the Illini had turned up their intensity on the glass from last week.

The Illini parlayed three straight offensive rebounds into an easy lay-up at the 16-minute mark and didn’t allow SIUE an offensive rebound until the game was more than eight minutes old.

They allowed only two offensive boards all half.

“In the first half, even as bad as I thought we played, if we would have limited our turnovers and held them off the glass we would have been much closer,” Simmons said.

I think seeing this type effort on the glass can only help the Illini as they move forward this season.

I say that because, as strong as Weber’s teams normally are defensively, they will have off-nights. They will have days where they’re just a step or two slow.

And when those days come, they’ll need to be able to rebound, they’ll need to be able to limit opponents’ possessions.

As for the offense, Weber said the Illini will continue to work on installing plays and offensive sets for the next few weeks, though he hopes some of the sets are functional by Monday night’s regular-season opener against Austin Peay.

“The other day we finally started putting in inbounds plays,” he said.

“Now we’re going to have to do some work installing more plays and going against defenses,” he added.

Snip-its and Tid-bits

Illini sophomore point guard Chester Frazier used Wednesday’s game as a backdrop to launch a new do: a dreadlock-pig tail combination that may actually be indescribable.

Frazier is a hard-nosed kid and his game is something any young guard should try to emulate, but I don’t see anyone trying out his hair-do any day soon.

Illini junior forward Brian Randle missed his second straight game Wednesday night with a pulled groin.

Weber hopes to see Randle back in uniform next week, but only if he is fully ready to play.

“Brian hasn’t done anything in 12 days,” Weber said. “Hopefully he’ll be able to get into practice this week, but I don’t want him playing unless he’s ready.

“Last week he was running in practice and kept making this grimacing face. It was like an ugly beer face, or a man-beer face, or is it the bitter-beer face? I don’t know what it’s called, but he was doing it. We don’t want that.”

True freshman Richard Semrau played 12 minutes and scored seven points against SIUE, prompting questions as to whether or not the lanky forward will be redshirting this season.

Semrau said he is yet to discuss the situation with Weber, and said right now he doesn’t know.

Weber made no official announcement about Semrau or other freshman Brian Carlwell during Wednesday’s post-game press conference.