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. 25 Illinois men’s basketball’s hard-fought win over Oakland

James Hoeck
Former Illini Quincy Guerrier attempts a dunk against the Oakland defense during the first half on Friday. Guerrier has signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Toronto Raptors.

Following a 28-point season-opening victory, No. 25 Illinois men’s basketball took the court for a meeting with Oakland. The Golden Grizzlies had already more than proven they were no pushover, leading for much of their season-opening loss to Ohio State (79-73). That rang true for the Illini, as it was not until the end that they confidently pulled away and claimed a 64-53 win.

Second slow start made worse by continued struggles from the free-throw line

Oakland jumped on top of Illinois immediately after tipoff. Two threes and even a jumper from the midrange culminated in a very early 8-0 deficit for the Illini. They were able to rally and seemingly get to the free throw line at will, but many of those trips came up empty or half-full. A 4-10 showing in the first half was aided by a 4-6 mark in the second half, but 8-16 is far from where the Illini need to be in that category.

The overall mark from three wasn’t pretty either (4-16), but 4-10 in the second half was a very encouraging sign from a team that has a lot of players who know how to shoot. 

Illinois’ starting five players are indicated with *.

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* Terrence Shannon Jr. (B)

Despite finishing as the Illini’s top scorer with 15 points, it was an off night for Shannon by his standards. The fifth-year guard struggled to get anything to fall early on and shot 0-3 from beyond the arc heading into halftime. 

However, coming out of the break Shannon was able to turn things around, contributing a much more efficient 2-3 shooting from the triple and looking much sharper on each possession. Shannon also helped bring the energy back into the building with a few two-handed highlight dunks.

* Marcus Domask (C)

Domask had a mixed night against the Golden Grizzlies. While the graduate student forward shot the ball slightly more efficiently than in the season opener (3-7 versus 2-8 shooting from the field), Domask wasn’t able to offer much in any other category. In addition to zero rebounds and a single assist, the glaring stat from the forward’s night was his team-high three turnovers. On the bright side, Domask played a role in the Illini’s late scoring run, putting up a big triple that ignited the crowd in Champaign.

* Quincy Guerrier (A)

Guerrier had an argument for the Illini’s most impactful player. He had the second most points (13) while also pulling in a team-high 10 rebounds. In such a close game, each of those were absolutely essential. He made five of his nine shots and managed to make two of his three free throws, which was another area that the Illini really struggled with. Overall, Guerrier offered an extremely comforting boost in just about every single area of need.

* Coleman Hawkins (B+)

After playing just 14 minutes in the season opener, Hawkins’ performance against Oakland was a very welcome bounce back. His eight points were key, but it was the all-around performance that contributed the most. The most frustrating aspect of his first outing was the poor rebounding, a stark contrast to his eight rebounds against Oakland. Most impressive was that three were on the offensive end. Hawkins also shined as a playmaker, assisting five total baskets with a couple being especially awe-inspiring.

* Ty Rodgers (B+)

Rodgers had the least amount of playtime of the starters but was a rare offensive plus on a night where the Illini struggled to get the ball to drop. Anyone who can get to 10 points while missing just three shots is an absolute plus, on top of the hounding defense that was noticed by Oakland head coach Greg Kampe.

Dain Dainja (A)

If there was any substitution that changed the game for the Illini, it was the introduction of Dainja. As the Golden Grizzlies continued to climb ahead on the scoreboard, it was the redshirt junior who halted their momentum. In a night of inconsistent shooting across the team, Dainja’s 5-8 efficiency from the field helped pull the Illini out of their slump.

Dainja also grabbed seven rebounds off the bench and provided a much-needed physical presence in the paint. The only area where the forward struggled was, like most of the team, from the free throw line where he blanked 0-3. Otherwise, it was a very strong performance from Illinois’ big man as he continues to battle for a spot in Underwood’s starting lineup. 

Luke Goode (C-)

Goode was the primary target of Oakland’s leading scorer, Trey Townsend. He repeatedly called for screens to get Goode switched onto him and often scored once he got that matchup. Illinois as a whole was not doing a good job of containing Townsend or helping Goode avoid being the one to guard him. The real disappointment was the shooting, which is usually Goode’s specialty. In 18 minutes he got up just two shots and missed both. Goode ended the night with two rebounds, a foul and a turnover as his only counting stats.

Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (C+)

Only played 12 minutes and missed all three of his shots. Considering the size and lack of minutes he was fairly active on the boards, racking up a rebound on both ends of the floor. 

Justin Harmon (N/A)

Harmon was only given six minutes on the floor, shooting 0-1 from the field and 1-2 from the free throw line.

Amani Hansberry (DNP)

Hansberry did not see action on Friday night.


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About the Contributors
Conor Blount
Conor Blount, Senior Sports Reporter
My name is Conor Blount. I’m a junior in aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. I joined The Daily Illini in the summer of 2022 as a beat writer for the sports section and am now one of three assistant sports editors. My first beat was women’s tennis before I moved to women’s basketball in the spring. I also had the pleasure of covering several former Illini at the 2023 NFL draft and NBA summer league. If you have any questions, I can be reached at the email below.
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!
James Hoeck
James Hoeck, Photo Editor
Heyo! I am James Hoeck, a third-year undergraduate student in photography with a minor in media. I have been a part of Illini Media for two years, starting back in fall 2021. I hold the position of Photo Editor here at The Daily Illini. I also work as Photo Editor for Illini Media’s Illio Yearbook. There is a good chance you will see me out and about on campus taking photos for my personal work or for The DI and/or Illio! If you want to check out more of my work, visit my socials linked below.
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