Takeaways from night one of Illinois men’s basketball season

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James Hoeck

Guard/forward Ty Rodgers makes an effort for layup against Eastern Illinois during Monday’s game. Despite the team’s lack of offensive rhythm from the Illini Rodgers managed a team high of five-assists alongside a great performance.

By Carson Gourdie, Sports Video Editor

‘Coleman’s one of the best players in the league’: Underwood praises team after Eastern Illinois win

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Illinois dominated Eastern Illinois 87-57, setting the tone with physical guard play and rebounding. The Illini performed well in transition, which jumpstarted a stagnant half-court offense. 

The Illini appeared to struggle finding their rhythm on offense at times as freshmen Skyy Clark and Jaden Epps didn’t take shots and failed to get the front court involved down low. 

However, freshmen Sencire Harris and Ty Rodgers picked up the production. Harris finished with nine-points and was explosive to the basket while Rodgers was a force on the boards and finished with a team high five-assists. 

While Kofi Cockburn is gone, Underwood inferred that the Illini will be fine on the boards – and the stats from Eastern Illinois back it up. While the seven-foot monster departed, the Illini now have a height advantage at the wing and guard positions – copying the approach the Houston Cougars used last season. 

Shannon didn’t showcase much from creating his own shot, but the Texas Tech transfer used his size to his advantage and get to the free throw line 15 times. Underwood added that Shannon always replicated this style of performance against Kansas in the secret scrimmage, where he finished 16-19 from the line. 

The Illini look much different from last season’s team, which relied heavily on Cockburn’s slams and Plummer deep balls. The Illini will likely use its defensive ability to open up offensive opportunities and score quick in transition. 

However, against discipline squads, the lack of a true point guard may make points very hard to come by.

 

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