No. 23 Illinois men’s basketball prepares to host 2022 Big Ten Champion Banner Ceremony ahead of Kansas City clash

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Sydney Laput

Redshirt sophomore forward Dain Dainja goes to dunk the ball during the exhibition game against Quincy on Oct. 28.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

There will be some big names in the building on Friday night to support No. 23 Illinois as it takes on Kansas City in Champaign. Fans will get to celebrate the return of four key players in the Illini’s 2022 Big Ten title triumph last season, including Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, Alfonso Plummer and Da’Monte Williams.

“It’s a little bit of a different night,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “There’s a lot of emotions when you raise a banner, saying you’re a Big Ten champion. Those stay up there for as long as the building’s up and maybe forever. Then you get a ring. In the sport of basketball, we play for those.”

The 2022 Big Ten banner raising and ring ceremony will take place before tipoff, at around 7:15 to 7:30 p.m. The celebrations will see a Big Ten banner lifted into the rafters for the second straight year, commemorating a team that achieved an impressive 15-5 conference record.

“It’s really exciting to me to know that Trent Frazier got on a plane and flew 13 hours so he could be here for this,” Underwood said. “Da’Monte Williams will be here for this. Kofi stayed so he could be here for this. We’ve got reports that Alfonso Plummer is coming back, he’s been in Mexico with a G League team and every indication is he’ll be here. When guys interrupt everything they’re doing to become part of something that’s really special, it speaks volume to their level of investment in Illinois basketball.”

It will be a special evening all around and the cherry on top for Illini fans would be a sound victory over the Roos following the celebrations. Illinois is the overwhelming favorite in what will be its first-ever matchup against Kansas City.

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    Illinois claimed a 30-point victory over Eastern Illinois in the season opener on Monday and will look to carry that momentum into Friday’s game. While there were some quiet nights from certain players the last time out, the Illini were led by 20+ performances by senior guard Terrence Shannon Jr. and junior forward Coleman Hawkins.

    Based on the two games Illinois has played so far, counting the exhibition against Quincy, it is clear that the team still has a ways to go in terms of meshing on the court and maximizing the chemistry as a whole. However, all signs point to the Illini trouncing the Roos on Friday night.

    Kansas City is 2-0 to start the season. The Roos dropped the season opener in a 59-56 defeat to Lincoln MO and lost 74-63 by LSU two days later. However, the Illini will have to watch out for the size of the Roos’ roster and the experience they hold against a relatively young Illini team.

    “UMKC is extremely big,” Underwood said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a team that big. They’ve got two excellent guards that are upperclassmen, they throw the kitchen sink at you defensively in terms of pressing, 2-3 zone, man-to-man, they showed a little 1-3-1, so we’ll see a lot of different things which will be good. I think they’re extremely good on the offensive glass so that’ll challenge us in terms of blocking out.”

    Illinois will tip off against Kansas City at 8 p.m., with the game being available to watch on the Big Ten Network.

     

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