5 massive observations from the Illinois basketball win over Minnesota

It wasn't an easy win by any means, but Illinois basketball played incredibly well offensively to come away with a huge Big Ten win on Wednesday night.
Feb 28, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) drives pas
Feb 28, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) drives pas / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Brad Underwood trying to change his ways

Change is hard, especially as you get older. When you are a kid, you can change with the direction of the wind. But when you get older, it is more difficult to change because you have done things the same way for such a long time.

Brad Underwood has been a successful head coach for years now. He has done things his way for that entire time, and when he gets set in his ways, it is understandably hard to change.

In the win over Iowa just days ago, Illinois looked lethargic in the first half. Underwood put in the bench players, which included some freshmen, in the second half. This created a nice spark and propelled us to a win.

Those players earned more minutes. They helped Illinois get over the hump and come out with a big Big Ten win. In the Minnesota game on Wednesday night, Underwood tried to get out of his rut.

Illinois’ bench saw some playing time early on in the game. It was exciting to see Niccolo Moretti and Amani Hansberry on the court in meaningful minutes once again. They were inserted into the game, but at the end of the day, Underwood had a short leash and only allowed the talented freshmen a couple of minutes on the court.

Those two freshmen bring so much energy. I can’t wait until they are stars on this team next season. That burst of energy is going to be fun to watch, and then you add in Morez Johnson Jr. Wow, that is going to be exciting.

Underwood did play Dain Dainja and Justin Harmon for 19 and 18 minutes, respectively. That shows you he is trying to break out of his rut a bit. Dainja has now had double-digit minutes in back-to-back games for the first time since November 24. That is how long it has been since Underwood has trusted him.

So, it is clear that Underwood is trying to play his bench more. That is a positive sign. It is a long path to getting them more active each game, but at least there is starting to be some effort from the coaching staff.