When Brad Underwood starts rolling, the elite, elite barrage can grow somnolescent. Every team that happens to be next on the schedule is the best team they’ll face all year. Or maybe it just feels that way.
But because Iowa came close to upsetting Purdue, at Mackey, without their best player, on Friday; we must regard Sunday’s warning as stark realism. The Frans are good.
Losing Luka Garza, Joe Wieskamp and CJ Fredrick should’ve hurt more. But now that Fran is in year twelve, his teams have managed the Stay Old part of basketball’s favorite success formula.
Specifically, Joe Toussaint got old while you were worrying about other Hawkeyes. Toussaint has always been a pain in the ass, but evidently he’s now learned how to shoot, too. Watching him battle Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams should be one of the most entertaining aspects of tonight’s game.
They’re all scrappy and tough. One assumes some amount of blood will spill, even if it’s only scraped knuckles.
Unfortunately, Andre Curbelo won’t be available to get in Toussaint’s head. Brad said “same status” to a Sunday question seeking an update on Belo’s well-being. Here’s what Belo did to Joe last year.
The breakout star for Iowa is Keegan Murray, whose press began glowing while Luka Garza’s cot was still occupied.
Murray had one other scholarship offer, according to Brad, from Western Illinois. And now he’s in the Lottery discussion.
His twin brother Kris doesn’t get the same press, but Brad suggested he’s purty durn good too. Patrick McCaffery, Connor’s younger brother, also got a mention from Brad.
Finally, there’s Jordan Bohannon. He’s the guy you love to hate, and would hope to have on your team. In a way, Illinois does have him on its roster this year, except that his name is Alfonso Plummer.
Bohannon and Plummer are among the most dangerous marksmen in college basketball. Both are slightly shorter than you are. Both are better at creating their own shots than their reputations suggest.
There are some differences. Bohannon will chuck it from 30 feet, successfully. Plummer hasn’t shown that tendency. As far as we know, Plummer is not hated by his fellow students.
It’s been a while since Illinois won at Iowa. Monday feels like a good time to do it. The Frans aren’t good at defense, historically. But ball-handling has been Illinois’s Achilles Heel this season. We’ll see how well Trent and Da’Monte fare against an aggressive trapping press.
Of note to fans of great basketball players: Illini WBB wing Kendall Bostic grabbed 22 rebounds in Sunday afternoon’s 71-57 win over Eastern Kentucky.
That’s the third-best performance in Illinois WBB history.
- 1. 30 rebounds – Betty Anderson vs. Eastern Illinois (1/23/75)
- 2. 23 rebounds – Martha Hutchinson vs. Indiana St. (1/24/80)
She’s smart, and fun to watch.