Illinois Basketball: 5 big changes for the shorthanded Illini

Jan 2, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Quincy Guerrier (13) and
Jan 2, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Quincy Guerrier (13) and / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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Illinois basketball is going through some changes right now, as we adjust to being shorthanded.

The Illini have managed to navigate through the past three contests without a key player on the roster. The Fairleigh Dickinson contest was the first game being shorthanded, and Illinois has done a great job not missing a beat.

There have been some changes to the Illinois basketball program, though. Some of these changes have been pretty big as well.

Here are five big changes for the shorthanded Illinois basketball team

1. Illinois 3-point shooting improving

Illinois has played some good basketball over the past two weeks. While the program has to adjust, some things on the team have turned for the positive. One of those is three-point shooting.

Last season, Illinois wasn’t a good three-point shooting team. We hit 30.8% from distance, which ranked No. 335 in the nation. So, hitting 32.6% from three-point range through the first 11 games of the 2023-24 campaign looks pretty good compared to last year.

Since Illinois became shorthanded right before the turn of the calendar, this program has actually improved when it comes to three-point shooting. It isn’t just a slight improvement either.

In the last three games, the Illini have knocked down 31-of-69 from three-point range, which comes out to 44.9%. That is an astronomical improvement from beyond the three-point arc.

Quite a few players have stepped up to hit this great three-point shooting mark. In the Purdue game, Luke Goode was 4-of-8, against Northwestern, Justin Harmon came off the bench and was 4-of-5, and against Fairleigh Dickinson, Coleman Hawkins hit 5-of-8.

Why the better three-point shooting from Illinois? Well, I believe it has to do with ball movement. The only time the ball stops is when Marcus Domask goes iso. Beyond that, the ball is swinging around and finding the open man.