5. Terrence Shannon Jr. is going to thrive in this offense
I was impressed by quite a few things on Friday night. The Illini took the game to Ottawa with the incredible talent and depth on the roster.
One of the main things I ended up noticing is how electric Terrence Shannon Jr. was on the court. Illinois got spurts of this in 2022-23 but there was something different about the Ottawa game. I think Shannon looked freer.
Here is my theory. Last season, Shannon was the main focal point for defenders. If you can shut down Shannon, then you can shut down the Illinois offense. This made him make bad decisions, take bad shots, and at times, shut down completely.
Illinois’ starting lineup on Friday night was different compared to the 2022-23 season. We actually had some shooters on the court. Luke Goode and Marcus Domask were out there lighting up the scoreboard.
With shooters on the court, the defense can’t just sit back and lock down Shannon. They actually have to go out and guard Goode and Domask on the perimeter. With those two great shooters on the court, the spacing for the Illinois offense is instantly better.
Shannon takes advantage of the spacing. He is able to slash in the lane and get to the bucket because there aren’t defenders attacking. That is when Shannon is at his best. I believe Shannon is going to thrive in this Illinois offense. I loved the starting lineup.