Illini Basketball

Player of the Game: Da’Monte Williams

I mean, duh.

“He one a dem guys who sacrifice, and get it done, because that’s what we need to win.”

Da’Monte Williams

On the stat sheet you’ll find that Da’Monte led all rebounders with 11. He tossed a pair of dimes. Two steals. One turnover. 31 minutes off the bench.

Trent found ‘Monte. It seemed easy.

But if you had the opportunity to focus solely on ‘Monte during Monday night’s slog, you saw a clinic. He moved like molasses on defense when it didn’t matter. He saved his outbursts for moments when catlike reflexes slapped a lulled opponent in its proverbial face, and stole its milk money, and the ball.

On a night when Illinois’s “best” players couldn’t keep their temperatures under a thousand, ‘Monte was cold-blooded.

After the first few times, you hoped he’d figure it out.

Putting quote marks around “best” doesn’t mean that Andre Curbelo and Coleman Hawkins don’t have the best stardom potential among this group. It means that they played recklessly, and allowed a fervent Marquette student section to get right up in their heads.

Coleman didn’t get a T this time, but Brad Underwood ran down the sidelines to stop Coleman from trying. Coleman’s emotions are part of the joy, but like Belo’s turnovers, they’ve been on display every single gotdamn game, and the entertainment value is wearing off.

C’mon. The guy is literally a foot taller than you.

It’s such a great opportunity for Brad. If he can refine these two rough diamonds, legitimate sports columnists will notice (because they’ll have read all us local columnists writing about it).

Belo’s repeated failures at attacking the Marquette defense is possibly the craziest thing I’ve seen on a basketball court. But that’s exactly why Belo is so great: He’s crazy.

Live by the sword, etc.

But there’s also the question of Belo’s post-concussion functioning. He hurt his head again Monday, and you’ve got to wonder how a shaken brain affected his depth perception, reasoning, impulse control.

A pair of G-League Two-Ways were there to catch him when he fell, but he didn’t get up for a while.

Andre Curbelo hurt his head again.

Coleman was amazing again, by the way. And Trent needed the ball in his hot hand in those final minutes, something Brad assured his press conference that Illinois tried to accomplish.

They were great, and they weren’t great enough. Trent admitted it immediately. He got picked and his team lost.

Coleman said yeah, of course he and Belo are still adjusting. It’s literally their first road game.

So with all that drama, it’s basically expected that a solid, selfless performance by Da’Monte Williams will probably go unnoticed. Except by his coaches, and the student managers who crunch the efficiency numbers.

What a game.