A much-needed kick in the butt for the Illinois basketball team

Illinois v Michigan
Illinois v Michigan / Aaron J. Thornton/GettyImages

In life, we all need to get kicked in the butt. The close win against Michigan State and last Sunday's loss to Maryland helped to provide an 88-73 win for the Illinois basketball team against Michigan on Thursday.

Illini fans should not overreact to the loss against Maryland. Although it was a difficult game to watch, it does not mean that everything is lost. Similarly, last Thursday's victory against the Spartans was not an easy win either. However, both games offer some context that we should consider.

Remember, Maryland was picked to finish third by most publications before the season began. However, they haven't played like it this year, and the Terps reverted to who they have been all year when they couldn't close out Northwestern in a 72-69 loss.

Lately, Michigan State has looked like they remembered they were a preseason top-five team in the country. Allegedly, Tom Izzo has threatened to have MSU put on the football pads in practice to help with toughness in games.

In those two close games, Illinois was reminded that they would be given the best shot from every Big Ten team for the remainder of the year. So, a loss at Michigan would have been a new low point for the season. However, that wasn't the case because Illinois played desperate Thursday.

The win at Michigan can get the Illinois basketball team back on track but more importantly, the win helped to reestablish roles

Marcus Domask has been willing to step into the No. 1 scorer role but that won't be sustainable. Domask scored 15 points against Michigan, but it wasn't just him carrying the team. The Illini cannot rely solely on Domask's abilities to win games.

On Thursday night, Illinois successfully applied this winning formula. Coleman Hawkins has never been a lead or go-to scorer, but he went off against the Wolverines with 21 points,10 rebounds, six steals, four assists, and one block.

Ty Rodgers is reluctant to shoot most nights, but not on Thursday night. He had 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field. Quincy Guerrier added 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Justin Harmon contributed 11 points off of the bench.

Regardless of how much Terrence Shannon Jr. plays in the coming weeks and months, the Maryland and Michigan State's kick in the butt was well-needed.

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