Three-point shooting a strength in Orange and Blue Scrimmage

Each year, the Orange Krush raises money based on how many 3-pointers the Illini make that season. If the Orange and Blue Scrimmage was any indication, the donations will be fairly large this year.

The Illini were 44 percent from the beyond the arc on 16-of-36 shooting at the Assembly Hall on Sunday. The scrimmage was Illinois’ last practice open to the fans before its first preseason game, which is Nov. 1 against Wayne State.

Though the team did shoot well — 50 percent from the floor in the scrimmages — senior Sam Maniscalco is cautious to say the team will have the same consistency throughout the year.

“We’ve been working on it every day in practice, you see guys getting in there and getting up shots,” Maniscalco said. “But I don’t know how many of those shots were actually guarded today so it’s tough to tell, especially when we’re playing each other.”

Both teams opened on fire with junior guard D.J. Richardson leading the way with nine points in the opening quarter. Sophomore center Meyers Leonard added eight points aided by three dunks.

With the score resetting each quarter and players shuffling between both teams, Maniscalco began to make his presence felt by starting 3-for-3 on 3-pointers to start the night.

Down by one, the point guard hit another three at the buzzer to win the second scrimmage for his team.

In the next two quarters, the shooting started to cool down as the game became more defensive.

Weber said it was probably a result of fatigue throughout the course of the scrimmage and was not worried about it.

“The first quarter was mid-20s almost for both teams and the scoring kind of dropped,” Weber said. “They got tired, but that’s part of it, that’s why we do it, to get that game conditioning.”

Maniscalco also added that conditioning is still something the team needs to work on before the season starts.

“It’s hard to simulate that in practice, we do the best we can, we want to keep it up-tempo,” Maniscalco said. “We simulate that in practice but being out here with the crowd, the refs, the time, things like that it’s a whole different atmosphere with adrenaline.”

One of the larger areas of concern, though, was the team’s aggressiveness passing the ball. Through the night the teams combined for 19 assists and 18 turnovers, with junior guard Brandon Paul having a game-high five turnovers.

“It’s been our biggest troublesome thing so far is taking care of the basketball and trying to make the home-run pass,” Weber said.

Leonard led the way in scoring for the night with 18 points. Leonard added seven rebounds to his stat line while Maniscalco recorded 17 points and four rebounds, three assists and one turnover.

Looking to secure more minutes for the coming season were junior forward Tyler Griffey and sophomore guard Joseph Bertrand. Both players found their rhythms as Griffey also had 17 points on 5-for-10 shooting and four rebounds, while Bertrand added 13 points and nine boards.

“I knew my time would come sometime, and I’m gonna try to take advantage of it, get in the game and play good,” Bertrand said.

While the deep ball may have accounted for much of the scoring, Griffey said finding Leonard and freshman center Nnanna Egwu in the post was a big focus for the team. Griffey added that by having a better presence down low helps open up looks from the outside.

“I had a couple passes where Nnanna (Egwu) kicked it out a couple times and got the look,” Griffey said. “It’s all chemistry. You get used to playing with each other and we’re coming along.”