If anyone was waiting for this essential part of the post-game, my apologies. Travel problems kept me in Illinois longer than expected. On the bright side, I had plenty of time during the drive to Chicago to hear Big Ten stories from WSU radio color man Bob Hull, a former assistant coach at Illinois.
To the game, a 72-57 Shocker loss.
At halftime, I thought “This is what 2006 felt like. Two teams with good athletes and lots of depth. Great matchup.” Neither team left the floor satisfied, but both showed they could play at a high level. In the second half, Illinois State continued to play like one of those teams. WSU didn’t. The Redbirds played harder and more aggressively, and had the night’s best player enjoying one of his best nights. The Shockers couldn’t score enough to keep pace and couldn’t stop Osiris Eldridge.
Not a a disaster. Many teams will lose in Normal. Illinois State impressed me. It got contributions from Tony Lewis and Alex Rubin that were above normal for this season. Austin Hill turned the ball over too much, but physically he can give ISU a big defender and scorer at guard.The Redbirds are playing much better since a bad loss at Ohio. The Shockers didn’t handle their strength and size. It was a rare time this season when WSU couldn’t physically overwhelm an opponent, and it showed.
WSU can’t afford many more efforts like that on the road if it wants to compete for the MVC title, or even the top three. The Shockers knew the game gets much tougher in conference play, yet they didn’t translate that knowledge onto the court. The Redbirds were the more aggressive team for most of the night.
WSU gets two home games before traveling to Missouri State. A 3-1 start puts the Shockers in a great position. WSU must play better than it did against the Redbirds to get there, especially at JQH Arena.Around the Valley
Creighton joins WSU at 0-1 in the MVC as losers in the first marquee games of the schedule. Jays guard Antoine Young admits his team’s confidence is in the dumps.The Redbirds are having fun again, especially after beating Utah and WSU.A knee injury ends the season for Indiana State’s Jake Kelly. With Kelly injured SIU ran away from the Sycamores at SIU Arena.SIU forced 21 turnovers to beat the Sycamores.Missouri State wins its first road game under coach Cuonzo Martin.