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Illinois Basketball Succumbing to Brutal Conference Scheduling

Since January started, Illinois Basketball has played 8 games. Each game has about three to four days in between. How can a team adjust to losing their best player with the whole world creating noise around them and then readjusting to that same player returning and needing to shake the rust off with such little time in between games?

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Illinois Basketball Succumbing to Brutal Conference Scheduling
Jan 24, 2024; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood looks on against Northwestern Wildcats during the second half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Basketball Succumbing to Brutal Conference Scheduling

Illinois Basketball is in an interesting position. They are currently in the top quarter of the Big Ten Standings and are continuing to show that they are a consistent force in the top half of the league. They are 5 games away from another 20-win season with 11 games to play in the regular season. Despite this, Illinois basketball’s win over Indiana certainly highlighted some issues. This team is trying to synchronize at a very inopportune time with their star basketball player returning. In addition to physical acclimation, there is almost no chance that Terrence Shannon Jr is mentally locked back in. Given what transpired the past month or so, Shannon Jr is clearly battling to stay 100 percent focused while the pace of the season runs like a full-speed treadmill.

Illinois Basketball is struggling. They are having issues with stagnant offense, defensive breakdowns, and missing layups and free throws.

More to it?

Though the mistakes that pester Illinois Basketball are fixable, I do think that they are succumbing to a brutal schedule. Since January started, Illinois Basketball has played 8 games. Each game has about three to four days in between. How can a team adjust to losing their best player with the whole world creating noise around them and then readjusting to that same player returning and needing to shake the rust off with such little time in between games?

The schedule does not ease up as the next month is outlined below.

Even more to it.

Brad Underwood has also done this to himself. He failed to expand the rotation and when Shannon went down, Illinois practically went to a 6 man rotation. Guys like Dain Dainja and Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn are just not able to come in to give impact minutes after not establishing a rhythm early in the season. As a result, Marcus Domask plays over 35 minutes in almost every single game. Coleman Hawkins and Quincy Guerrier are tasked with the same despite not being 100 percent healthy.

Fatigue is sure to set in and that is likely what is behind the missed layups, free-throws, and defensive switches. Illinois Basketball is in a precarious spot. There is no vacation coming up and they must make it like this to March. Brad Underwood needs to find a way for Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn, Dain Dainja, and Terrence Shannon Jr to carry some of the load. Otherwise, this season may be in grave danger.



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Alex is the Owner of Armchairillini.com, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.

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