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How University of Illinois Basketball Improved Because of the Matto Chart

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I'm a die-hard University of Illinois fan and have been for as long as I can remember. I've seen some great teams there though they've never won a national title.

I've witnessed 2 final fours in my lifetime and both teams I'll never forget. One of them was in 1989 with a group that was led by Kendall Gill, Nick Anderson, Kenny Battle and others.

They were nicknamed the 'flyin Illini' because they were so athletic and would dunk on anyone. In 2005, Illinois lost 1 game before falling to North Carolina by 5 points in the title game.

That team was led by Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head. They passed the ball so well and were so unselfish. Both teams won because they didn't care who did what as long as they won the game. They did the little things.

From 1995-1998 Illinois had a player named Matt Heldman. Heldman lettered all 4 years and was one of those players who played hard every minute. He was always tipping passes or diving out-of-bounds. He made big shots and defended every play.

He was the guy that wasn't the most talented but he would out-work anyone. A year after Matt left the University of Illinois he was involved in car accident and with his father was killed. This devastated Illinois fans everywhere because this was a kid that you just wanted to root for.

When Bruce Weber took over at Illinois he came up with the 'Matto' play hard chart that is kept by the team manager during each game. Here is the point breakdown for the chart:

  • Passes deflected +1
  • Blocked Shots +1
  • Steals +1
  • Dives +1 (offense or defense)
  • Loose Balls +1 (someone else might deflect a pass, and if you come up with the ball this is a loose ball)
  • Charges Taken + 2
  • 5 Second Count +2 (This is only for the man guarding the ball. Not the players denying the passes)

MattoCoach Weber started to notice that how many points Illinois scored on the "Matto" really went a long way to determining if they won the game or not.

When Illinois got 41 on the chart they had a great chance at success. Each year for the team banquet the player who gets the most 'Matto' points is rewarded and it is usually the highest award that the Coach gives out.

We cover this in an article because the little things often dictate wins and losses just as much as shooting percentages and rebounding.

Tipping a pass or diving for a ball to save a possession can lead to victory and Coach Bruce Weber proved that through the 'Matto' Chart. What a great tribute to a player who gave everything he had out on the court. Every player should aspire to lead his team in these categories.

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