3. Brad Underwood made the bench even shorter
Being a man down is never easy, but Brad Underwood and the Illinois basketball team have taken it in stride. In fact, Underwood doesn’t seem to be wavering one bit.
I kind of expected Underwood to start using more of his bench starting the Big Ten season. Illinois needed to fill over 21 points per game on the court. To do that, I figured Underwood would use some of the younger guys for the minutes that were missing.
That doesn’t seem to be the case, though. In fact, I would argue that Underwood has actually retracted the bench even more than he was in the non-conference.
Six Illinois players received more than six minutes on Tuesday night against Northwestern. The usual starting five of Quincy Guerrier, Coleman Hawkins, Marcus Domask, Ty Rodgers, and Luke Goode all played at least 19 minutes. Four out of the five received at least 32 minutes.
The lone rotation player to see more than six minutes was Justin Harmon, who finished the night with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
That is the team for Illinois. Underwood is riding with these six players from here on out. I am a bit surprised that Dain Dainja doesn’t get more playing time. He has been extremely efficient when he does see the court, going 15-of-18, 83.3%, from the floor and only having four turnovers in the last six games.
But Underwood clearly knows what he wants. He wants to roll with the starting five plus Harmon coming off the bench. That is the lineup moving forward.