4. 3-point defense suffering for Illinois
Marcus Domask’s dominance in the past couple of games has been fun to watch. The kid has been amazing. Illinois has played some good basketball overall too. But one thing is suffering now that we are shorthanded.
Illinois used to be a dangerous team because of stellar defense. No matter how bad we were playing offensively, the defense was going to come through in the clutch. That hasn’t happened recently, though.
Before the Fairleigh Dickinson game, the Illini were holding opponents to 28.3% from three-point range. This was good enough to rank No. 23 in the country. Since becoming shorthanded, that number has dropped.
Illinois has allowed opponents to shoot 45.3% in the past three games. All three opponents have shot over 41%, and Northwestern was able to hit the 50% mark.
A big reason for the bad three-point shooting defense is that we are shorthanded. Illinois is bringing Justin Harmon off the bench, and he is playing quite a few more minutes than usual. His defensive prowess isn’t near what we had in the starting lineup pre-Fairleigh Dickinson.
My guess is that Illinois will continue to suffer when it comes to three-point shooting defense. We aren’t nearly as long as we used to be. Hopefully, despite the drop in defense, Illinois can make up for it with more points on the board. That is what I believe will have to happen for us to continue to get victories.