Keller shoots ‘Jordan three’ in victory

Dominique Keller takes a shot at the basketball game against Georgia that was held in The United Center on Saturday. Erica Magda

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Dominique Keller takes a shot at the basketball game against Georgia that was held in The United Center on Saturday. Erica Magda

By Jeremy Werner

The Illini’s No. 23 did his best impression of the Chicago Bulls’ famous No. 23 midway through the second half in Monday’s 68-58 win against Hawaii. Dominique Keller threw up a prayer as the shot clock expired with 11:23 left in the second half that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. As Keller jogged back on defense, he turned to the Orange Krush and gave a Jordan-esque shrug to the crowd.

“(The fans) were like ‘How did you make it?'” Keller said. “I said, ‘I don’t know.'”

When asked if it was a Jordan-like shot, Keller responded: “If you want to call it that, then yeah, it was a Jordan move. Yeah, that’s what we can call it, ‘the Jordan three.'”

Keller finished with 14 points in 15 minutes on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.

Keller has been a model of efficiency on the offensive end for the Illini, leading the team with 26.1 points per 40 minutes. But Illinois coach Bruce Weber said the transfer from Lee College in Texas will have to improve defensively and on the boards to earn more playing time.

“He’s starting to make some progress,” Weber said. “He still, defensively, has got to realize that every position means something and that you got to guard almost every time. I told him the other night, ‘If you want five extra minutes, guard in the post.'”

Outrebounded

Hawaii dominated Illinois on the boards, hauling in 43 rebounds compared to Illinois’ 14 boards.

The Rainbow Warriors collected more offensive rebounds – 18 – than the Illini’s total.

After outrebounding opponents 258 to 219 through their first seven games, the Illini have been crushed on the glass by a 77-40 margin in their last two.

Weber said Illinois’ lack of practice time during its stretch of six games in 13 days has contributed to the Illini’s underproduction on the glass.

Weber also said Frazier – Illinois’ highest returning rebounder – and the rest of the guards also need to help on the boards.

“Early, we outrebounded a lot of teams. Now, we’ve kind of been punked on the boards,” Weber said.

“That’s an understatement. I mean, that’s got to be some kind of record to win the game and lose by 29 on the boards.”

Weber said practice will include plenty of box-out drills during the team’s 10-day break between Wednesday’s matchup with Chicago State and its Dec. 20 game against Detroit.

Top 25 votes insignificant for Illini

Illinois received 11 votes in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Illini rank 36th in the nation according to the AP votes, but the recognition is trivial as far as the players are concerned.

“Not until we get in there I wouldn’t say it means anything right now,” Chester Frazier said.

“We didn’t play as well as I think we could play yet. I don’t think we belong in the top 25 yet. No disrespect to any of the teams we beat, but we haven’t beat anybody to deserve to be in the top 25.”