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Illini Basketball Update: Wednesday Practice

Footwork and floor-position are the big priorities right now. It’s not nearly so exciting as the John Calipari free-for-all shooting and dunking cavalcade. But both are vital for running an effective motion offense, as well as a quick-shifting man-to-man defense. That last part is especially true for Sunday’s opponent: Four guys for Florida Southern shoot over 40% from three.

You can see the habits Bruce Weber seeks to instill. While working on the offense, Weber scored one point for every pass, five for each lay-up, and regulation scoring for everything else. Mike Tisdale even passed to Calvin Brock over the rim, an alley-oop in miniature, scoring the incredibly rare six-point-play.

They practiced a play called “342 Missouri,” and later something called “342 Blue.” To the expert observer, this moniker seemed to direct player positions to particular areas of the floor — e.g. the high post for the five.

But I think they refer to the year Jesus Christ returned to Earth, and chose the Land of the Ozarks as His Final Kingdom. With the December addition of Alex Legion to the team, this “342 Missouri” may very well wow the ScotTrade Center crowd in St. Louis. But it will completely flummox Brigham Young, if Illinois meets them in the tournament.

The “342 Blue,” I think, provides a variation for shifting defenses against the Tigers, once Obama has plucked their state from the Red Column.

I could be just imagining this last part. Or making it up from whole cloth. But I’m not allowed to discuss the “minutiae” of practice. Besides, my version is more interesting.

Here’s a sound clip of Coach Weber’s post-practice thoughts on…

Playing small against smaller, quicker teams… Mike Davis takes a lead for the 4 spot?… Keller trying to blend theory & practice… Lute Olson retirement… Priorities: school first, basketball second, everything else third… Calvin Brock version 4.0… Coaches Against Cancer to Eat Beef in Covington, Monday (for $75, you can eat, cure cancer, and speculate, up close, about the vinyl-content in Gene Keady’s wig — tickets: 217-356-9076) . . . 1984 Illini-Boilermaker Co-Champion Reunion & Hot-Buttered Roll Eating Contest . .

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