Illinois Basketball: Illini are about to turn a corner under Shauna Green

Oct 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Illinois women’s head coach Shauna Green speaks to the media during the Big Ten media days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Illinois women’s head coach Shauna Green speaks to the media during the Big Ten media days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports /

A new season is just hours away, as a new-look women’s Illinois basketball program is set to take the floor.

I know what you are probably thinking right now. The Illini women have been pretty bad at basketball for most of the past decade. I can’t dispute that fact. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Let’s take a look at the uphill battle Illinois has to deal with. The Illini haven’t had a winning record in any of the past nine seasons. The best record was 15-16 in that span. In Big Ten play, we are averaging just 2.2 wins in the conference per season. That isn’t a typo. Illinois is just 20-146 in Big Ten play the past nine seasons, which comes out to 12%. To say things have been a struggle is an understatement.

Illinois basketball is about to turn a corner under Shauna Green.

While things have hit rock bottom for the Orange and Blue, there is hope on the horizon. A great offseason move of hiring Shauna Green away from Dayton will help the Illini tremendously. She is not only bringing a dazzling resume that features five A-10 regular season championships, but she also brought some solid talent with her.

  • Makira Cook

The biggest get for Green since coming over from Dayton is Makira Cook. The impact of Green coming to Illinois has already been felt with the big addition of this 5-foot-6 guard.

Cook dominated with the Flyers last season. She averaged 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while hitting 38% from three-point range. Cook is a true playmaker who can do everything on the basketball court. She also made the second-team A-10 All-Conference the past two seasons. We haven’t had too many players like her over the past decade.

In the exhibition against Quincy, Cook started at guard and put up four points, five assists, three rebounds, and three steals in 29 minutes of action.

  • Brynn Shoup-Hill

Illinois was able to add multiple players who bring size to the roster. Having Brynn Shoup-Hill as an option at the No. 4 spot is going to give a lot of flexibility to Green this season.

Shoup-Hill transferred in from Dayton after averaging 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds this past season. At 6-foot-3, there is a lot to love about her game. I think Shoup-Hill could do wonders for the Illini.

I believe Shoup-Hill is going to start early in the season. She did start for the Illini against Quincy and put up four points, six rebounds, two blocks, one assist, and one steal in 18 minutes.

  • Genesis Bryant

Green was able to land transfer Genesis Bryant this offseason. The 5-foot-6 guard averaged 2.1 points on 50% shooting last season with North Carolina State.

While the numbers don’t jump off the page, adding a player like Bryant is going to help the Illini. She brings power-five playing experience to an Illinois team that has lacked solid guard depth for a long time. Bryant will fit in nicely and get good playing time from the jump.

The most impressive player in the exhibition against Quincy was probably Bryant. She had a huge night with 25 points, four rebounds, and three assists while going 10-of-14 from the field and 5-of-7 from three-point range. If we can get anything close to this in the regular season, then Illinois should be winning some games. Look for Bryant to quickly move into a starting role early in the year.

  • Aicha Ndour

On the men’s side of things, Illinois had Kofi Cockburn dominate the paint for the past three years. Well, the Illini women now have their own dominating force in the middle with Aicha Ndour.

Ndour is bringing her 6-foot-6 size to an Illinois team that needed more depth in the paint. Last season at the junior college level at Northwest Florida State, Ndour averaged 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. I fully expect her to be a contributor right away for the Illini in 2022-23.

Illinois didn’t play Ndour much in the exhibition against Quincy. She would finish with two points, one rebound, and one steal in seven minutes.

  • The Freshmen

I will be watching to see what impact the incoming class of 2022 has on the Illini this season. Camille Jackson is the most notable name. The four-star guard was the No. 65 player in the class of 2022. She only played four minutes in the exhibition game, though. I’ll be curious to see how her freshman season develops.

There was only one other freshman to receive minutes against Quincy, and that was Samantha Dewey. She actually received eight minutes in the game and put up a solid four points, one rebound, and one block on 2-of-3 shooting.

Much like the men’s team, the freshmen for the women’s team are going to be crucial to the bench play this season. The quicker Jackson and Dewey get up to speed, the better off the Illini will be in 2022-23. I think we are in-store for a pretty good year.

Next. 5 observations from the Illini win over Eastern Illinois. dark