The 2017-18 season of Illinois Basketball has been anything but what most fans were expecting. As new life took over the program — new life that oozed winning — fans expected to see Brad Underwood come in and help the team compete immediately.
Sadly, that has been far from the case.
Underwood inherited a team that, by all accounts, simply was not built to run the kind of system Brad Underwood wants to run. The stifling defense has been there; the full court pressure has been surprisingly well executed for the most part; and some of the players are buying in to the vision that Underwood and this staff have for this program.
It has been clear in the areas that this team lacks.
The lack of an inside presence, reliable scorer and clear voice out on the court who wants to be a leader are all missing, and Underwood’s claim in a preseason practice that this team has a culture of losing was correct.
Come late game situation and close games, this team crumbles.
As we approach the end of the season and we look at the remaining four Big Ten regular season games, let’s look at what we would like to see from this team and coaching staff that would build excitement for the 2018-2019 season.
Groom Spicy G
Leron Black will be a senior in 2018 and still will be heavily relied upon.
Greg Eboigbodin will be a sophomore.
In limited action Spicy G has shown his ability as a playmaker and in the post. His biggest weakness has been on defense, where he tends to foul far too frequently and limits his time on the court.
I would love to see Greg get more playing time to close out the season, give Leron a little break, and see Underwood get some potentially key pieces some court time to build for next year.
NOTE: Eboigbodin will definitely continue to get more time as Michael Finke is still in concussion protocol entering Sunday’s game versus Nebraska.
Can Trent Frazier Continue To Be One Of The Best Freshmen In The Big Ten?
Trent Frazier likely won’t get Big Ten Freshman of the Year, although he should. With over 12 points and just under 3 assists per game, Frazier has shown he may be a force in the Big Ten the next few years. Frazier has been able to show leadership and poise.
Underwood was blessed when Frazier honored his prior commitment. Now this staff may have one of the top players in the Big Ten for the next few years. A solid piece you can build around, I would love to see Trent rally these guys and break down the apathy that permeates the locker room.
Play With Fire And Urgency
As mentioned above, seeing some of these games with these lackluster efforts — these ‘la de daa’ moments where it appears nobody cares — is exhausting as a fan.
I want to see someone play with urgency, with passion. The NCAA Tournament may be out of reach, but you can’t tank in college basketball. Win games, break hearts, play with passion.
Tell us in the comments what you want to see as the Illini close out the season.