4. Free throw shooting is embarrassing
You know, there was a lot of time between the end of last season and the beginning of the 2023-24 campaign. In that span of time, you would think that the Illinois basketball team would have practiced some dang free throw shooting.
While they likely did practice from the charity stripe, something is just not translating to real game action. Illinois is, once again, terrible from the free throw line and it is embarrassing.
Last season, getting to the free throw line was not a problem for the Orange and Blue. We averaged 20.2 free throws per game, which ranked No. 70 out of 363 DI programs. That is a lot of free points to be had for the Illini. The problem was, we only made 67.9% of the free throws in 2022-23, which ranked No. 309 in the country.
That bad of free throw shooting and points left off the board should have made this program want to work on this massive flaw. I fully expected to see an improvement from the charity stripe in game one, but what I saw was something worse. We couldn’t convert even at a 67.9% clip. I would have loved that number on Monday night.
Illinois was able to get to the charity stripe to shoot 23 free throws, which is above last season’s average. But the team as a whole only made 12 of those 23 shots, which comes out to an abysmal 52.2% from the free throw line.
What is even more frustrating is the fact that fifth-year senior Terrence Shannon Jr. was the main culprit of the bad shooting. He was 3-of-8 from the free throw line. He shot better from the field, 50%, and three-point arc, 42.9%, than he did from the free throw line, 37.5%.
I am tired of not being able to convert from the charity stripe. This was a problem last season and continues to be a problem in 2023-24.