The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Notes, player grades from No. 11 Illinoisʼ 33-point victory over Fairleigh Dickinson

Olivia McAfoos
Sophomore Ty Rodgers holds onto the ball intensely trying to get around the Marquette defense on Nov. 14. Rodgers secured 15 rebounds against Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday.

Coming off a strong Braggin’ Rights victory over Missouri, No. 11 Illinois returned home with wind in its sails to dominate Fairleigh Dickinson 104-71. Despite not having Terrence Shannon Jr. to feature against the Knights, the Illini didn’t miss a beat and turned in their first official 100+ point performance of 2023-24.

The Shannon-less Illini have still got it

Make no mistake, Friday night was a statement victory for this team. Sure, a 6-7 Fairleigh Dickinson team was never supposed to walk out of Champaign victorious, but in light of the recent news, this win was important for the Illini. With Shannon being charged with rape and suspended from the program on Thursday, there were a lot of question marks as to how Underwood’s squad would respond without the star guard. While just the first step of the Shannon-less path, Illinois got the road to the postseason going on as high of a note as anyone could’ve asked for.

The key? Everybody on the squad stepped up big time. The defensive prowess, ability to get to the rim and three-point accuracy offered by Shannon were filled in by big performances across the roster. Rebounding was a highlight for the team, with Ty Rodgers and Quincy Guerrier posting double-doubles. Dain Dainja was a force in the paint, shooting 9-10 from close. Justin Harmon and Coleman Hawkins were lethal from the triple, knocking down a combined nine threes on the night. It was nothing short of a wonderful display to watch.

Of course, only time will tell how the rest of the season plays out. But for the time being, it looks like the 2023-24 Illini still have plenty of reasons to hope.

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Illinois’ starting five players are indicated with *.

* Luke Goode (D+)
It just wasn’t Goode’s night. In his first start of the season, the normally accurate distance shooter blanked 0-4 from beyond the arc and only got one bucket to fall in six total attempts. The junior didn’t look super comfortable or composed against the Knights and committed the second-most fouls of the night for Illinois. However, it was never going to be easy to step in and immediately try to fill Shannon’s shoes. While it was a game to forget from an individual standpoint, there’s no reason to press the panic button for the rest of Goode’s season.

* Ty Rodgers (A+)
When Rodgers is playing at his best, he is not only an energetic powerhouse, but he is also efficient on the floor. Both of these were the case against the Knights, as the sophomore played out a balanced yet physical display to prove why he was given the reins to his starting job. Finishing the night with 10 points was a solid statistic, but combine it with his team-high 15 rebounds and you’ve got a double-double performance to highlight the team’s night. Rodgers did well in bringing up the ball for Illinois and also recorded five assists by the end of regulation.

* Marcus Domask (B)
As one of the most chaotic Illini performers of the evening, Domask was all over the place in both good and bad ways. Defensively, the forward looked solid and contributed two blocks along with a steal and four defensive rebounds. However, offensively, Domask was a mixed bag. The graduate student shot a mere 2-7 from the field, including 1-6 from three, but finished with 11 points thanks to his 6-7 shooting from the free throw line. The highlight was Domask’s unselfish play that translated into 11 assists to complete the double-double performance. On the flipside, he committed four turnovers, some of which consisted of a lack of focus with the ball. Overall, Domask did much more positive things for the team than negative, and the Illini were +26 with him on the court.

* Quincy Guerrier (A+)
After setting his career-high in points in Illinois’ last outing, Guerrier followed it up with another very positive performance. The forward recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, showing little issue in stepping up as one of the Illini’s leaders on the floor. Leading by example, the veteran remained a physical presence in the paint throughout the matchup and demonstrated how last week was no fluke.

* Coleman Hawkins (A+)
In need of scorers in Shannon’s absence, Hawkins played a major role in filling that duty for Illinois. The forward was excellent on Friday night and shot lights out from the triple with 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc alone. In addition to 18 points, three rebounds and two assists, Hawkins was sharp on the defensive end of the floor. With two steals and a block, the senior was able to be a thorn in FDU’s side throughout the entirety of his 29 minutes on the court.

Justin Harmon (A+)
Harmon stepped up to the plate massively in his role coming off the bench. The graduate student guard scored a career-high four three-pointers and kept the momentum swinging in Illinois’ favor throughout the evening. Needless to say, Harmon had a strong shooting night with 6-10 accuracy — 2-2 from the free throw line — translating into 18 points.

Dain Dainja (A+)
After playing an extremely limited role against Missouri, Dainja turned in an excellent bounce-back performance on Friday night. Fairleigh Dickinson had no answer to the forward’s sheer dominance in the paint, and Dainja was able to run wild with a team-high 19 points on incredible 9-10 efficiency from the field. Also snagging six rebounds, it was an excellent big man performance from the redshirt junior who could seemingly do no wrong against the Knights.

Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (A)
Gibbs-Lawhorn showed similar positive flashes that were seen during his debut. The freshman played fearlessly and was efficient on the floor, grabbing four rebounds and shooting 4-7 from the field for nine points in 14 minutes. Bringing energy off the bench, Gibbs-Lawhorn was all over the court against FDU, the only downside being the freshman committing a team-high four fouls on the night.

Amani Hansberry (N/A)
Received seven minutes on the floor, knocking down a triple while also recording a block and rebound each.

AJ Redd (N/A)
Played three minutes against the Knights.

Max Williams (N/A)
Played two minutes against the Knights.



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About the Contributor
James Kim
James Kim, Sports Editor
My name is James Kim and I’m a senior studying English with a minor in business. This is my third year with The Daily Illini and it’s been an amazing ride so far. When I joined in fall 2021, I began as a staff writer for the sports section where I covered women’s tennis. In spring 2022, I became an assistant sports editor and started covering soccer and Illinois men’s basketball. From spring 2023 onwards I’ve been working as the sports editor! In addition to being an Illini and Real Madrid fanatic, I also love watching movies and TV shows. If you have any questions about writing for The DI, you can reach me at my email below. I-L-L!
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