4. Rebounding intensity is through the roof
Illinois had some issues as a team in 2022-23, but a bright spot for the program was in the rebounding department.
Last season, the Illini would pull down 37.9 rebounds per game, which ranked No. 26 in the country. There are 363 DI basketball teams, and we were No. 26. Let that soak in for a second.
Coleman Hawkins led the way for Illinois, averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. Thankfully, we returned most of our rebounding production this season as well. Four out of our top five players in rebounds per game are back with the program.
Through the first couple of exhibition games this summer, I think Illinois is going to be right back up there in the top 30 in rebounds again this season.
Illinois was able to pull down 64 rebounds against Valencia. Granted, it looked like we were playing a high school team out there, but 64 rebounds is an awful lot.
Hawkins and Amani Hansberry led the way with nine rebounds apiece. Nine different Illinois players had at least four rebounds as well.
While Valencia was clearly outmatched, I still feel like Illinois’ rebounding intensity was exactly where I wanted it to be. We weren’t standing around waiting for the ball to come off the glass. Multiple Illinois players were crashing the boards and going for the ball. This actually caused multiple fouls throughout the game, but I am okay with hustle fouls.
Illinois showed a fire on the glass that I didn’t see often in 2022-23. This team was more intense, and as a fan, I appreciated watching it on Wednesday. While this is just an exhibition, Illinois treated it like a meaningful game. I loved it.