5. Illinois played an incredibly disciplined game
In the last couple of years, it has felt like Illinois played a lot of undisciplined basketball. We wouldn’t work together well, we would hold the ball a lot, and the turnovers were unbearable at times.
Something is different with this rendition of the Illini, though. They are cohesive and playing some great, disciplined, basketball. It has helped us win a lot of games and that continued on Tuesday night.
Against Northwestern, I would argue Illinois played the best game I have seen in years. I can’t remember the last time I was this impressed with an Illini unit from tip to the final horn.
There are multiple levels of discipline that I was proud of against the Wildcats. Illinois didn’t take bad shots. There are times when we get lazy and chuck up three-point attempts, and that didn’t happen on Tuesday. Nearly every shot attempt was in rhythm and balance. There were only a few times, like when Luke Goode came off a screen at the top of the key, when a player was off balance and taking an errant three-point attempt. The fact I can remember certain times means there weren’t many.
Illinois only had 10 turnovers on the night, and there have only been four games this season where we have had fewer turnovers. The Illini had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7 against Northwestern. That is the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio this season, just behind the 1.8 against Valparaiso.
There were only a few times when the ball got stuck too. Illinois was great about moving the ball around the court, and this ball movement enabled players to get open shots. The only times I had any issues with ball movement were a few times when Marcus Domask went into isolation. I would audibly say, “This is bad offense,” when that happened, and of course, Domask would make the shot.
This was one of the best games I have seen Illinois play in a long time. They are a special unit and one of the most cohesive groups in the country.