2. The Illini are playing more team-oriented basketball
At the end of the last slide, I touched on Illinois moving the ball more and that is why we are hitting three-pointers at a high clip. A big part of the ball moving is the fact the Illini have been playing a more team-oriented style of basketball.
Being shorthanded means the team needs to adjust. Illinois has adjusted well. In fact, being shorthanded has brought the team together to play some of the best basketball I have seen this program play in quite some time.
In the 11 games leading up to the Fairleigh Dickinson contest, Illinois was averaging just 12.5 assists per contest. That was below average, as we ranked No. 196 in the nation. But, in the past three contests, the Illini have upped the assists to 17.7 assists per game. If we averaged that many assists for the season, we would rank No. 19 in the nation.
A reason for the increase in assists is due to the ball moving around a lot more. We are swinging it around the three-point arc for open shots, and the ball is being thrown into the paint for easier buckets around the rim.
I also believe the ball is in the hands of better ball distributors more often too. Someone like Marcus Domask has taken a lead role. In the last three games, Domask has averaged 7.3 assists per game. Ty Rodgers has done a great job distributing as well, as he has averaged 3.0 assists per game.
Illinois has been more cohesive over the last three contests. This group is more team-oriented, and I think we are going to surprise some people coming down the stretch.