Illinois Basketball: Despite the struggles, Illini numbers similar to 2022-23

Oct 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Illinois Fighting Illini players Makira Cook and Kendall
Oct 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Illinois Fighting Illini players Makira Cook and Kendall / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022-23 campaign was a special one for the women’s Illinois basketball team.

Watching the Illini win ball games was fun. The Illini women hadn’t won in a long time, so the success was refreshing and a lot of the Illinois fanbase was happy for the program. We were also ranked in the AP Top 25 at one time.

But the 2023-24 season hasn’t started with the same bang as last season. The Illini are now 6-5 through 11 games and will have a hard time making the NCAA tournament.

I am here to say, even with losing three out of the last four games, don’t give up on this team. Even if we lose more games throughout the Big Ten season, don't let this women’s program go by the wayside. Shauna Green is building something special, and we need to be there to support it; ticket sales, vocal support, watching the games, etc.

I also want to go on the record to say, I don’t believe the 2023-24 campaign is over. Yes, we are 6-5 right now, but this Illinois basketball team has just caught some bad breaks. We can turn this season around, and the numbers show this rendition of the Illini is very similar to that of last season.

The women’s Illinois basketball team is putting up similar numbers to the 2022-23 season

Most people are going to see the 6-5 start and think this Illinois team is struggling or that we aren’t nearly the caliber we were last season. I mean, a 6-5 start to this season compared to a 9-2 start last season, something has to be way off, right?

That isn’t the case, though. Three out of the five losses for the Illini have come by four or fewer points. The only statistic that is more than a couple of percentage points off from the 2022-23 squad is three-point shooting. This season, Illinois is shooting 31.3% from beyond the three-point arc while last season’s team shot 37.2%. That could easily be the difference in those three games we have lost by four or fewer points.

The rest of the stats are pretty similar year-over-year.

  • 2022-23 numbers – 45.8% FG, 37.2% 3PT, 38.6 RPG, 14.0 APG, 12.9 TPG, 6.2 STP, 3.3 BPG
  • 2023-24 numbers – 46.3% FG, 31.3% 3PT, 36.5 RPG, 13.5 APG, 11.5 TPG, 7.0 STP, 3.5 BPG

So, offensively, Illinois is pretty much the same team minus the three-point shooting. I can attribute some of the three-point woes to Makira Cook being out to start the season too.

But what about on the defensive end of the court? Is there a big difference in how Illinois is playing defensively this season?

  • 2022-23 opponent numbers – 40.3% FG, 27.5% 3PT, 33.7 RPG, 12.1 APG, 13.9 TPG, 6.3 SPG, 2.9 BPG
  • 2023-24 opponent numbers – 41.5% FG, 27.4% 3PT, 31.5 RPG, 12.5 APG, 15.5 TPG, 5.9 SPG, 2.2 BPG

When you look at the opponent numbers, you will see that there isn’t much of a difference either. In fact, I believe Illinois’ opponents are putting up worse numbers than last year, as they average almost two turnovers per game more this season.

I know numbers don’t tell the whole story, but if Illinois starts shooting a little better from three-point range, then this season is easily salvageable. As mentioned earlier, we have lost three games by four points or fewer. If those flip in our favor, Illinois’ record reads 9-2 once again. This team has talent and we can make a run. Don’t give up on us.

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