During the Terrence Shannon Jr. suspension, Marcus Domask was the No. 1 for the Illinois basketball offense. The defense was co-lead by Coleman Hawkins and Ty Rodgers.
As much as Illini fans don't want to hear this, this is Domask's team until further notice. Brad Underwood is trying too hard to fit Shannon back into the rotation. He was suspended for six games and is now awaiting his preliminary hearing on the charge of rape.
Underwood trying to fit Shannon back in is affecting the team's cohesion. Illinois should be running their offense through Domask because if not, the 2023 Illini will be back in full force. The my-turn basketball that got Illinois bounced from the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.
Remember when Shannon took his shots to gain NBA exposure? Then Matthew Meyer took his chances to lead Illinois. Then Hawkins got his turn to get shots. Then the Illini would get down by double-digits and play a crazy second half and lose by six or seven points.
Now Illinois spends so much time trying to get Shannon reaclimated that they're beginning to play disconnected. So much so that the Illini almost lost to Nebraska.
The loss against Northwestern showed that Illinois is not connected but, instead, they are a clunky and disjointed team trying too hard to turn the games over to Shannon when it was clear that he was not ready.
The Illinois basketball defense has also struggled when it comes to Terrence Shannon Jr. getting reacclimated
Reink Mast hit Illinois for 22 points because there was a lack of communication between the Illini players on defense. Mast found himself open because of blown pick-and-roll coverages.
Keisei Tominaga should scare anyone trying to guard him because of his shooting ability. Illinois tried to have Shannon guard Tominaga early on, but he struggled against him. The Illinois defense gave up 15 points in the first half before the physical play wore Tominaga down.
Let's not forget that a good player like Tominaga can torch any defense. He finished with 32 points because a great player can beat a good defense.
So, for now, Underwood needs to let Domask remain the No. 1 option and do what he has to do to help lead the Illini and guide the offense. Shannon's time will come.