The night Illinois and Oakland played with a women’s ball

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More than seven minutes into Wednesday’s game, No. 16 Illinois trailed Oakland (Mich.) 15-6 and missed 10 of 13 shots. Something was amiss.

That something was the ball.

The two teams played the first 7:22 with a women’s basketball, which weighs two ounces less and is an inch smaller than a men’s ball. Yet it wasn’t until Illinois forward Mike Tisdale (or was it Oakland’s Travis Bader?) said something that they finally switched.

“It felt like a NERF ball,” Illini guard Demtri McCamery told the News-Gazette.

Not that it solved their issues. Illinois continued to trail until five minutes into the second half before eventually pulling away for a 74-63 victory. Illini coach Bruce Weber wasn’t one for excuses, though. Oakland hit 7 of its 16 shots with the smaller ball.

“Our kids said something right away, but I’m like, ‘You guys are just missing shots, shut up and play,’ ” Weber told the paper. “There should be no excuses. They scored with the basketball. It should be easier to score, to be honest. It’s smaller. It should go in the hoop better.”

How’d it happen? Officials were mum. Weber figured it was because the most recent Assembly Hall game was a women’s game on Dec. 1 and the ball stayed on the rack. But for a full week? I keep waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out with camera in tow.

Now I’m just waiting for Oakland to sneak in a women’s ball for every game. Certainly helped the Grizzlies’ game.

“I don’t know how you start off the game with a women’s ball,” Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton told Jeff Eisenberg. “At first it was working in our favor. Illinois wasn’t making that many shots. Maybe we should have kept it.”

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.