5 crucial observations from the Illinois basketball win over Rutgers

Jan 18, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33)
Jan 18, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
4 of 5

4. I was disappointed to only see a few minutes of Niccolo Moretti

It was exciting to see Niccolo Moretti return against Michigan. He had missed the entire month of December and most of the months of November and January with an injury. But this past Thursday, Moretti was back on the court.

In a bit of a surprising move, Brad Underwood inserted Moretti back into the lineup early on. He entered the game in the first half in what was a close game at the time against the Wolverines.

Moretti ended up playing six minutes in his first game back. He had two points on 1-of-2 shooting from the floor. The fact he played six minutes was great for his development, and I was hoping to see him continue to get minutes off the bench.

Well, that hope was shot down quickly against Rutgers. Moretti didn’t get an early sub into the game. He didn’t even get a chance to play until the final few minutes of the game when the score was out of reach.

I know that Terrence Shannon Jr. is back, and he has to have minutes. But I think you can find five or six meaningful minutes for Moretti. He is a valuable piece of this team and can be a great point guard when given the chance.

In the limited time against Rutgers, I was happy with what I saw too. Moretti finished with two rebounds, one assist, and one steal in his three minutes of action.

I understand that there are a lot of players who need minutes. I also understand that Underwood will give minutes to those who are experienced. But I want the young guys to develop, and it is kind of disappointing to not see Moretti back on the court.