NCAA Talk

Illini struggles defined by, but not limited to, three-pointers

984457.png

Illini struggles defined by, but not limited to, three-pointers

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Live and die by the three-pointer was a clich before it was ever applied to this installment of the Illinois mens basketball team. But clichs dont become clichs on accident.

The Illini lost their third straight game on Thursday night, their second consecutive loss to an unranked opponent (68-54 to Northwestern), while shooting just 3-20 on threes. The string of poor play is certain to send the team crashing out of the top 25 polls, a precipitous fall from their number 11 ranking at the turn of the year.

Related: Northwestern's road success continues in win over Illinois

In the Illinis last three losses, the team has made a total of eight shots from behind the arc out of 67 attempts. Thats just 11.9 percent on three-pointers since beating Ohio State on Jan. 5 25 percentage points off the teams average from the first 16 games of the season.

In other words, Illinois has died by the three-pointer.

But three point shooting is just one piece to the puzzle, according to first-year coach John Groce.

To me the whole things start with the defense. We have to get stops, he said. Were not getting as many threes in transition because our defense has so many holes in it.

Threes are cool, but you have to get stops to get those shots in transition, Groce added.

The Illini defense has been woeful of late, getting outscored 226-172 in the last three games. The reasons for the collapse are a mystery to Groce and his players, however.

Not knowing the source of their problems has not stopped the players from taking responsibility for their errors, however. After the Northwestern loss guards Brandon Paul and Tracy Abrams each shouldered the burden for the poor play.

Were spotting teams points and we cant do thatthats not how you play in the Big Ten, Paul said. We as players have to figure out what we have to do to move forward.

Abrams echoed the senior, adding that the problems lie within the group as a collective.

Its about the team, the team is one we are one. We have to do a better job of defining our role and playing our game, Abrams said.

In the last two games, Groce explained, the team has played hero ball, in which they try to make the spectacular play in an attempt to narrow a deficit. If the team played more like the style he has tried to instill, the style they played during their 12-0 start to the season, he believes this slump could be behind the Illini.

Theyre trying to find the balance here in year one, he said. We have to keep doing what we dowere doing a lot of what we were doing when we were 12-0.

One thing Paul feels he and Abrams can do, as point guards, to pull the team from the slump, is take ownership.

Tracy and I have to do a better job of facilitating our offense, the senior said. Tracy and I as captains, point guards, have to do better to get us on our game.

In Groces words, losing doesnt feel very good, but he knows things cant continue the way they are. Until we get our defense addressed the results dont change, he said.

By all accounts the Illini are trying not to make a habit of losing. With their latest loss, however, the Illini are just 1-4 in conference play. With big games against Michigan (twice), Indiana and Ohio State left on the schedule, though, time might be running out for Illinois.

Loyola basketball coach Porter Moser to be next featured guest on Inside Look

slideshow_inside_look_logo_v3.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Loyola basketball coach Porter Moser to be next featured guest on Inside Look

“Inside Look presented by Cadillac,” hosted by NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan & featuring Porter Moser to debut Saturday, September 15 at 6:30 PM CT

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app
 
NBCSportsChicago.com to provide additional web-exclusive coverage of ‘Inside Look,’ including extended video clips


Chicago, IL (September 11, 2018) – NBC Sports Chicago - THE home of the #AuthenticFan - continues to delve into the lives of some of the biggest names in Chicago sports with its candid, monthly, one-on-one interview series Inside Look presented by Cadillac.  

Debuting Saturday, September 15 at 6:30 PM CT (immediately following Cubs Postgame Live), NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan hosts an exclusive one-on-one interview with the man who led Loyola University Chicago’s men’s basketball team to the pinnacle of NCAA greatness this past spring, Ramblers head coach PORTER MOSER.  NOTE: Live stream of this program will also be available at CSNChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers.

Moser, who recently signed a contract extension with the Ramblers through the 2025-26 season, was born in Naperville, IL and was a standout preps star at Benet Academy in nearby Lisle, which was followed by a successful collegiate career at Creighton University, where he helped the Bluejays to an MVC Tourney Championship and an NCAA Tourney appearance in 1989.  Following a number of post-playing career assistant coaching stints, along with head coaching positions at Arkansas-Little Rock and Illinois State, Moser was named head coach at Loyola in the spring of 2011, which ushered in a new level of success not seen in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood since 1963.

Moser’s nationally-recognized level of leadership with Loyola was officially established this past season as he led the mid-major program to a 32-6 record (15-3 in the MVC), which included winning the MVC Tournament title and automatically qualifying them for the “Big Dance.” As a #11-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Loyola’s incredible run began with upset victories over Miami-FL (#6), Tennessee (#3), Nevada (#7), along with their unforgettable win against #9 Kansas State, which sent the Ramblers to their first Final Four appearance in 55 years.  Over the past four seasons, Moser’s teams have recorded an 89-50 (.597) record and their 50 win total over the past two seasons are its most over a two-year period since posting 51 total victories during the 1962-63 & 1963-64 campaigns.

In this edition of “Inside Look,” Moser discusses everything from growing up from his early playing days in high school and college, his transition from player to coach, what the amazing run to the Final Four has meant for the university and mid-major programs in general, along with his vision for Loyola’s future, and much more.   

NBC Sports Chicago will also re-air Inside Look with Porter Moser on the following dates/times: Wed, Sept. 19 at 7:30 PM - Thu, Sept. 20 at 11:30 PM - Sat, Sept. 22 at 9:30 PM - Mon, Sept. 24 at 11:30 PM - Fri, Sept. 28 at 3:00 PM (on NBC Sports Chicago+) & Sat, Sept. 30 at 5:30 PM (Schedule subject to change). In addition, viewers are urged to check out NBCSportsChicago.com for additional interview footage of the Moser interview, along with an archive of past Inside Look guests over the years.  
 
Note the following quotes from Inside Look with Porter Moser presented by Cadillac premiering Saturday, September 15 at 6:30 PM:
 
Moser on the conversation he had with his father when he decided to become a coach:
“I said ‘Dad, I think...I know I want to coach college basketball.’ He goes, ‘How much you gonna make?’ I go, ‘Well, I’m going to volunteer my first year and bartend at night to make some extra money.’ And he said, ‘Do you love it?...is that what you’re passionate about?’ And I said ‘yes.’ And he says, ‘You gotta do it…you gotta do it.”

Moser on his team approach last season: 
"I never said during the season, ‘Hey you guys, we’re going to the Final Four.’ It was about the process. You ask any one of our guys, it was about getting better, what’s in front of us. We very rarely, pretty much hardly at all, talked about the end goal.”

Moser on the importance of making the NCAA Tournament: 
“There’s been some Loyola Rambler fans that have been sitting here 35 years...they’ve been waiting. And to share this arena with them (Loyola fans), with our families and kids, and to have your name come up on the screen. Miami, then Loyola. And to watch us all jump up, that’s an accumulation of a lot of work. And just to share it with the stage we had and the people we had, that’s what makes things special…the journey you went through and the people that went through it with you.”

Moser on accomplishing a Final Four run in his hometown: 
“I was that kid. Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears. I even rooted the White Sox on...and to have a little part of this and to see how Chicago embraced it (Loyola’s run), that meant a lot to me.”

Moser on perseverance: 
“I’ve always said, if I had a tattoo, and I don’t, it would be an old proverb that would be: ‘Fall Seven, Rise Eight.’ And I’ve just been blessed to have people in my life that have always talked about perseverance. I keep a picture of the ‘63 national (championship) team right to my left. Every morning when I walk in to my desk, I see them holding the trophy…and I have another picture of Sheridan Road packed with fans. When things get hard, it’s such a much more rewarding path fighting through it.”

Moser on not being complacent going forward: 
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to win. I want to advance. I want to get better. I’m obsessed this offseason about getting better. I don’t want to talk about repeating. I don’t want to talk about going back to the Final Four. I want to talk about capturing our culture again.”
 

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

doug_bruno.jpg
USA TODAY

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

One of the icons of DePaul athletics is sticking around.

Monday, DePaul extended the contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through the 2023-24 season. Bruno just wrapped up his 32nd season as head coach of his alma mater, leading DePaul to its 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament.

While the Blue Demons were eliminated in the Round of 32 this March, Bruno has led the program to the Sweet 16 three of the last eight seasons.

“I am so thankful to be working at a great institution like DePaul,” Bruno said in a press release. “I never would have been here without coach Ray Meyer who gave me a basketball scholarship, Frank McGrath and Gene Sullivan who hired me in the 1970s."

Behind Bruno, DePaul went 27-8 in 2017-18, winning its fifth-straight Big East regular-season title. The Blue Demons also won their third Big East Tournament title in five years, defeating rival Marquette 98-63. Bruno also picked up his 700th career victory in February, defeating conference-foe Butler 86-68.

“I’ve been fortunate to have great assistant coaches through all the years,” he said. “My current staff is absolutely one of the best in the country.

"Most important, the reason you succeed is the players. I’ve been blessed to have tremendous student-athletes help build the DePaul women’s basketball legacy.

“I am excited about this contract extension because we still have work to do. As proud as we are of everything we have achieved, our expectation through the length of this extension is to take the Blue Demons to even higher places.”