DI Sports podcast: Coleman Hawkins shines in 9-point win over Buckeyes

Junior+forward+Coleman+Hawkins+defends+against+Ohio+State+on+Tuesday.+Hawkins+had+solid+offense+during+the+game%2C+helping+to+secure+a+win+for+the+Illini

Caden Bargowski

Junior forward Coleman Hawkins defends against Ohio State on Tuesday. Hawkins had solid offense during the game, helping to secure a win for the Illini

By Carson Gourdie, Sports Video Editor

Daily Illini Sports Podcast: Illinois, Hawkins bounce back big, knock off Ohio State 69-60

Carson Gourdie and Drew Friberg discuss Illinois’ 69-60 victory over Ohio State.

Which Coleman Hawkins are the Illini going to get? The answer to the burning question will likely determine if Illinois wins or loses.

 Today, Hawkins looked in control offensively and took advantage of a hasty Ohio State defense inside. Hawkins finished with 13 points on 5-10 shooting, but he didn’t miss a single attempt from inside the arc. 

Hawkins continues to shoot three pointers on a consistent basis — despite only making at least 40% of his attempts in two out of his last 11 games. But after a rough first half, Hawkins focused his attention inside and was able to create opportunities off the dribble. 

It was one of Hawkins’ finer games since Syracuse — when he recorded a triple-double — but Illinois head coach Brad Underwood would chalk that up to surface level thinking.

“Coleman is really talented, there’s going to be nights where he makes five three (pointers),” Underwood said in a press conference. “I’ve said this for two years, I think he’s a lockdown defender. I go back to (when he defended Iowa’s Keegan Murray and Rutgers’ Ron Harper Jr. last season) and those guys had off nights facing him. 

“That’s the consistency. I don’t want to level consistency for him or judge him based on what he does on the offensive side.” 

While Hawkins defensive acumen is usually on display — according to Underwood — the team is more likely to win when Hawkins is locked in offensively. Against Syracuse, he set his sights in the paint and scored 16 points. Tonight, Hawkins got hot in the second half and finished with 13 points. 

It’s well known that Hawkins is capable of being an outside threat, but around 33% of his makes come from two games: Eastern Illinois and Wisconsin. Hawkins needs to cut back shooting it from deep. 

While we can cherry pick Hawkins’ ability all day, he is an X factor for the Illini. The combination of defense, scoring and passing sets him apart from almost any front court player in the conference. Hawkins finished with a team-high six assists tonight. How many teams in America can boast that someone in their front court can do that? 

“He’s one of the best passers I’ve ever played with,” Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. said in the press conference.  

If Hawkins produces more nights like tonight, the Illini can ride high in March. 

 

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