After starting 12-0 the Illinois Fighting Illini are 2-3 in their last 5. And one of those wins was rather ugly. A big reason for their recent struggles is the ramped up level of competition as Big Ten play has begun. But it’s also they fact the team lives and dies by the three, and no one was more so than senior guard D.J. Richardson. Of all his field goal attempts on the season, only 46 have been of the 2-point variety. The three is D.J.’s game so when it’s off, so is he, as are the Illini?
Richardson has always been streaky, he’s had major struggles with his shot at various times during his college basketball career, but this slump could be his worst. Or it seems that way since the Illini are ranked so high and playing in so many high profile games?
Maybe it’s time for Coach John Groce to sub Joseph Bertrand in the lineup for Richardson?
Both players were off in the 84-67 loss to the #8 Minnesota Golden Gophers. Richardson was 5-15 from the floor, 2-9 from behind the arc. Bertrand was 2-9, 0-3. Bertrand is more athletic and perhaps more versatile than Richardson, even though he’s less experienced. Maybe a change is due to shake things up?
In the last seven games Richardson is 10-46 from three point range (22%) and 25-88 (28%) from the floor during the last night games. Of course, that doesn’t mean Richardson will stay in this drought forever. He did shoot 12-26 from behind the arc for a four game stretch in the preconference. Still both his season FG% and 3-pt% are lower than any numbers of his Illinois career, so perhaps it’s time for him to come off the bench?
It’s not his fault the Illini got blown out at home versus the Gophers. Minnesota gave them plenty of problems on both ends of the court. But if the Illini are going to do anything this conference season, they’ll need him to shoot his way out of this funk.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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