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Man, *so* close... [Mar. 12th, 2005|02:38 pm]
But we couldn't make those key baskets down the stretch, and lost by the score of 64-56.

We were within 3 with around 4 minutes left in the game, but we couldn't get the job done. I know that we really had no chance and that Illinois was basically just biding their time, but still... you get involved in these games hoping for a miracle. Ultimately, it just wasn't meant to be.

I thought that once Vincent Grier botched that easy two to cut the lead to 6 by going for the spectacular dunk, the game was over with. And after Illinois extended the lead to 14, I KNEW it was over. But of course, I was wrong. You've got to hand it to Grier... I felt kinda bad after he botched the dunk because I knew he was trying to swing a little momentum our way, cause despite only trailing by 8, we really had none. But you've got to make sure you get the two.

But credit to him, after that mistake (and others... he didn't have his greatest game today), he played with an absolute vengeance... getting even the craziest shots to go down. He had something like 13 points in the 2nd half, and really kept us in the game.

And you know what the scary thing is? Even though we lost by 8 to the top team in the country, we could have played a lot better. I mean, yeah we played pretty good defense. When you hold one of the most potent offenses in the country to just 64 points, you must be doing something right. But we gave up WAYYY too many offensive boards. Became ridiculous at some points. And on the offensive side, a complete role reversal from yesterday. We were pressured all day, and that resulted in numerous turnovers, too many to count. That and the fact that a few players played no factors at all (Coleman was a liability... Stamper wasn't very effective), you'd be amazed looking at the score if I told you we could have played better.

But with that said (and I realize I shouldn't be complaining too much since we're already in the tourney and played a team that murdered us earlier in the year), what a great effort by this team. It's really amazing that one, we made a comeback against the best team in the country, and two, we competed despite all the turnovers we committed. I'm sure Monson preached the same thing after the game, and I'm sure this will do wonders for our confidence heading into the big dance.

And judging by our performance against the NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE COUNTRY (I must stress that), if we cut down on the turnovers and control the boards on defense, who knows what this team will do. All I know is that I'm feeling pretty good about their chances..