Illini basketball


Promising signs from the Nebraska game? The one where Illinois wasn’t competitive?

Well, yes.

The Cornhuskers blocked only three shots, and it’s not because they’re short.  Ayo Dosunmu and Andres Feliz have begun to think differently about how they attack the basket.

Andres drives toward the bucket
Andres experiences a flashback, an unpleasant memory
Andres changes his mind
Andres decides to start over

Ayo said on Tuesday that he’s jumping too soon. He’s leaving his feet before getting close enough to the rim that he’ll have options once he’s airborne.

Considering how quickly he became a rebounder after Brad Underwood told him to become a rebounder, he might be able to make that change as early as tonight. 

Underwood says Adonis de la Rosa had a good two days of practice. Underwood didn’t specify whether Adonis stopped flinging prayers toward the rim, or whether the big man has added passing to his repertoire.

Adonis is great at moving people. That’s his primary talent. He can do a lot for the Illini offense simply by handing-off from the pinch post and then moving people with his enormous ass.

Until he spends a week of 10-hour days practicing bank shots in the Corzine Gym, with Orlando Antigua and a half-dozen team managers making sure every single one of his shots hits the glass before the rim; he should be forbidden from shooting.

But he can still help.

Adonis is good, maybe even better than Giorgi Bezhanishvili, at taking the hand-off. He’s pretty good at handing it back. 

The hand-off has caused some problems in recent games, and that might get worse as teams get more scouting material on the Illini.  Cleaning up that execution is vital, particularly because the short pass is the best option for penetrating guards confronted by looming Tall People.

Andres, Trent and Ayo have all tried to shovel the ball to their bigs for an easy bucket. Instead of a spectacular assist, they’ve mostly earned turnovers for their efforts. That happened at Nebraska, too.

Andres turns the corner, Roby steps into his path
Andres attempts a wrap-around to Giorgi
Giorgi bobbles

The players all feel they’re a lot closer than the record reflects. Their coach is appalled by the lack of execution, but he says nobody’s discouraged.

After his media session yesterday,  Aaron Jordan jabbed a bon mot at his coach, in reference to Underwood’s hair coloring, which is not —  in case you hadn’t gathered —  his own.  (You might say it showed great dedication to the job that Underwood showed up in Champaign on day one with his hair dyed orange.)

Jiving may not be a new side of Aaron, but it’s not one that he’s displayed publicly in the past. Whatever’s been pent up inside is coming out. You saw that at Nebraska too. It didn’t quite work, but you liked to see him drive for that dunk.

It was a good idea.

The unambiguously good news from Nebraska was the Return of Kipper Nichols. I wish I could report that he didn’t need to get kicked in the nuts to stir things up. But the fact is that he did get kicked in the nuts.

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence.