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 Illinois women’s basketball loss against No. 16 Notre Dame

Sofia Klein
Senior Kendall Bostic uses her strength to find a pass at the start of the third quarter against two Morehead State players on Nov. 7. Bostic ended the night with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

No one said going into a matchup against a ranked team would be easy, and unfortunately for the Illini, it truly was not a painless game. While Illinois was off a high after its 70-point win against Saint Peter’s earlier this week, this ultimately shifted when the team met its match against Notre Dame. The Citi Shamrock Classic in Washington D.C. brought a variety of challenges that the Illini were not readily prepared for, but it could potentially be a learning opportunity for the team as they aim to gain momentum for their next five games in Champaign.

Turnovers were the Illini’s biggest enemy

The Illini had a total of 21 turnovers throughout the game. While Notre Dame had 18 turnovers as well, it significantly profited off Illinois’ turnovers, while Shauna Green’s squad did not take advantage of its opportunities. The Fighting Irish scored 31 points off the Illini’s turnovers, which is nearly half the points they scored in total. Sloppy mistakes made the team appear disoriented and disconnected on the court. It’s difficult to win a game against a team so talented when consecutive errors are being made.

Illinois’ starting five players are indicated with *.

* Genesis Bryant (B+)

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Finding a way to put an arbitrary letter grade on a game like this from Genesis Bryant was about as hard as you could imagine. Bryant finished with an efficient 31 points on 68% TS. Most days that would be enough to get you a perfect grade, but Bryant’s issues lie elsewhere. She finished with one assist as the team’s primary facilitator and yet had a team-high eight turnovers.

This version of Genesis Bryant is similar to that of James Harden. Lofty comparison for giving her a B+, but when you watch her play you can see the similarities. Bryant has the capability to completely take over a game, as we’ve already seen, but in the biggest games, potential can only take you so far. Against Marquette, she was continuously finding teammates and controlling the pace, but then single-handedly shot Illinois out of the game late. Today was the exact opposite. Her shots were falling, but she was either unable or unwilling to create for her teammates albeit against a stifling Notre Dame defense. There’s no doubt she was the best player on the court for Illinois, but the turnovers and the defensive issues just got away from her. Bryant has the heart and skill to rally back and pick up her teammates in the future, though, and Illinois will need it.

* Makira Cook (N/A)

The long-awaited return of Makira Cook had Illini fans overjoyed to start the game, but that return quickly hit a speed bump. Cook looked lost for the most part in the first half shooting 20% and coughing the ball up five times, but what exactly do you expect when you throw someone straight off the bench and into one of the best defenses in the country? Cook turned it around a bit in the second half, dropping an efficient 12 points and keeping her assist-to-turnover ratio at a respectable 1:1.

Overall, though, how can you really put a letter on this for Cook? In her first game of the season, she looked poor but got better by the quarter. It’s fair to say that she deserves a little more time before we expect her to be that Naismith-contending play she was dubbed before the injury.

* Adalia McKenzie (B+)

McKenzie scored 17 points and had eight rebounds with one steal. She was the team’s second-leading scorer and played boldly, helping the team get momentum going early in both halves. Unfortunately, she also had three turnovers and made no assists. To be fair, there were minimal assists overall, but for a player as strong as McKenzie, extra passing could have been beneficial.

McKenzie had a decent game altogether. She was very driven and used her elite ball-handling skills to make good layups. Her rebounds were also vital to the team, and hopefully, in upcoming games, she can be even more aggressive.

* Brynn Shoup-Hill (C-)

Shoup-Hill played just about nine minutes this entire game, and she left the game with zero points, two turnovers and four personal fouls. Clearly, this was not a very successful game for her, but her skills on defense were solid for the time she was in the game.

She had two rebounds and guarded her opponents in the paint, but there are perhaps slightly higher expectations for her given her 6-foot-3 height and overall athleticism. Her offensive skills should certainly improve in the future, and it’s clear she’s got the shooting abilities as she’s sunk three-pointers in past games, so this game should not be the biggest reflection of her talents.

* Kendall Bostic (B)

When you look at the base box score, you probably don’t think Bostic did much. Today may have been disappointing for Bostic, no doubt, but her impact was still felt as she was still the only competent Illini defender — along with the limited minutes from Shoup-Hill — and one of the only Illini who could track down a board.

KB’s lack of scoring today wasn’t necessarily because she was playing poor offense though. Bostic is an efficient and effective scorer — among the best in the conference — but she isn’t always the most aggressive or dynamic. This often requires her to rely on pick and rolls and getting set-ups from her guards that just weren’t there today. Bryant and Cook committed three times as many turnovers as they did shots assisted, so when the game gets out of hand the game plan tends to shy away from the post. It’ll be interesting to see if KB can or will start to create for herself more often down the stretch because she might have to if Illinois wants to be competitive in the Big Ten.

Jada Peebles (C+)

Peebles was the only nonstarter who, to put it lightly, provided absolutely nothing. She finished with a posting number in the plus-minus, the only non-Bostic Illini to do so. In the box score, she finished with a singular three-pointer and nothing else. Obviously, it’s too early in the season to overreact, but Peebles will need to be more than a one-dimensional player if she wants to continue to contribute on a contending Illini team. Green said Peebles was her biggest improver from last season, and we’ve seen flashes so far. How the fifth year responds to the situation will be one to watch going forward.

Shay Bollin (F)

After her stellar game this Wednesday against Saint Peter’s, there was greater anticipation that Bollin would perform at that same level this time around, but of course, this game was a completely different experience. In her 12 minutes of playing time, the only statistics Bollin came out with were two personal fouls and one foul drawn.

She lacked aggressiveness on defense and did not put herself out there enough on offense. She was much more confident and calm this previous game, and to see her leave the game with no points was rather dissatisfying.

Camille Hobby (F)

Hobby was one of four Illini to play over nine minutes in this game and record an offensive rating of zero. You might be more okay with that from a young player, but when you’re a fifth-year who was a starter in the ACC and saw Notre Dame once or twice a year, it might be fair to expect a bit more. Hobby recorded only one missed shot and three personal fouls in the box score.

You can’t necessarily fault her for not getting involved on offense, as that’s more on the guards (see KB’s paragraph), but the drop-off on defense is unacceptable if she is to be interchangeable with Bostic in big games. A center who is inefficient doesn’t protect the rim and is an inconsistent rebounder is not a center that can get minutes on a tournament-caliber team. Hobby is a professional and she is a veteran, so Green better hope she can figure it out.

Aicha Ndour (D)

With Ndour standing at 6-foot-6 and having the ability to draw so many fouls in the short time she plays, it’s essential that she scores her free-throw attempts. She drew three fouls and missed both free throws, but her form looks solid at the line. She struggled the last game with free throws as well, but this time around, her four rebounds made up for it.

A lot of the problems with Hobby are the same things Ndour faces, but she doesn’t have as much experience or upside as someone like Hobby. However, Ndour has been passable on defense which gives her that slight boost from the floor of the rest of the bench in this game.

Cori Allen (N/A)

Despite her little breakthrough on Wednesday, we didn’t see much of the freshman Allen today, as perhaps Green wanted to lean more on her veterans.

Kam’Ren Rhodes (N/A)

It’s tough to put a smaller guard like Rhodes into a tough one against a top team like this one. It is curious why she only saw a minute after Green said she’d safely secured a rotation spot after the return of Cook.


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Tess Eken, Assistant Sports Editor
Hi everyone! My name is Tess and I’m currently a junior studying communications with a minor in Spanish. I joined The Daily Illini because I wanted to combine my love for sports with my love for writing, so I get the best of both worlds here! Outside of journalism, I love baking and spending time with my friends and family. If you have any questions or just want to talk sports with me, feel free to email me using the button below. I-L-L!
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