Illinois Basketball: 5 observations from the Illini win over Michigan State

Illinois v Purdue
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5. Illinois understands where the bread is buttered

Over the past four games, since becoming a man down, I feel like Illinois has had to become a smarter team. It’s not that they were a dumb team by any means before, but I feel like the Illini have had to be smarter with the ball and more efficient.

One of the areas the Illini have been much smarter and more efficient in is three-point shooting. Illinois is starting to know where their bread is buttered, and that is not from beyond the three-point arc.

In the last three games, we have shot 21, 19, and 18 three-point attempts. Those three games rank inside the top five this season in the fewest three-point attempts. The other games were against Oakland and Florida Atlantic, both victories.

When we don’t jack up three-point shots, we become a much more efficient team. Illinois knows that going into the paint and getting to the hoop is where we are going to do the most damage.

That is one of the reasons why I hate when Marcus Domask shoots from three-point range. He is a below-average three-point shooter, but when he gets into the paint or around the hoop, chaos ensues. Domask then makes incredible shots or decisions that lead to points.

Illinois is not a three-point shooting team, and being a man down, we are starting to realize this fact. The players who are out there know that their bread is buttered in the paint and around the hoop. Ty Rodgers just had a career-high, and he didn’t take a shot outside of five feet.

If we continue to play smart basketball, this season is going to be so successful. Let’s keep being aggressive and driving the ball.

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