It's not going to be any easier tomorrow.
Illinois will get a nice boost with the Orange Krush back from break, but the Golden Gophers bring talent and toughness to the State Farm Center.
This team might provide as big of a challenge as Michigan last week. They are beatable, of course, but Illinois will need to press all the right buttons to pull off the upset.
Get Ayo the Ball.
Right now, Ayo Dosunmu is your best player. So, what was Paul Petrino's offensive motto, "feed the studs?” Yeah, that needs to happen a lot on Wednesday. Ayo needs to have at least one touch on every single possession. Let him shoot from three when the opportunity presents itself. Get him out in transition. Use the high pick with Giorgi to space the defense out, and allow Ayo to slash to the basket.
Get him involved with the high/low game with Giorgi. Those two are your best scorers. They need as many touches as the coaching staff can provide.
Ayo is a rare scoring talent. He needs to be utilized as such.
Take away Amir Coffey.
Easier said than done of course. Coffey is one of the better pure scorers in the Big Ten. A 6-foot-8 guard with a similar skillset to Jordan Poole, Coffey can make all the shots. He makes up half of a talented wing duo with Jordan Murphy. Murphy adds the muscle down low, and Coffey gives you the elite scoring ability.
My game plan would be to use Da’Monte Williams/Ayo on Coffey as much as possible. Those are the Illini's best two guard defenders, and their active hands and ability to stay with just about anyone could lead to a lot of breakouts for Illinois. Lock Coffey up, and Minnesota becomes less dynamic.
That's not to say Murphy is a slouch in the scoring department. After all, he is averaging a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds a game. Illinois only has so many quality defenders, however, and I would focus my energy on stopping Coffey, which will of course mean Murphy will have a 30-point, 15-rebound game.
Free Tevian Jones.
You cannot convince me that the minutes you're giving Kipper Nichols/Aaron Jordan are better than what you could get from Jones right now.
Aaron Jordan once again has been a no-show in conference play, and Kipper is maddeningly inconsistent. I wouldn't take Kipper's minutes away completely, but mixing Tevian Jones in more would do wonders for this team’s athleticism and shot-making ability. Sure, he's struggled, but what have you really gotten out of Jordan or Nichols to justify their extensive playing time? Jones, flawed as he is, represents a better option than both right now.
I understand he's done some things wrong. He paid for them. Now it's time to see what you really have. Free Tevian Jones.
This applies to Samba Kane as well. Youth should be served for a team going nowhere.
For vintage inspired, high quality, and well-designed University of Illinois apparel, check out Fourth and Kirby, and look for the TCR Collection while you’re at it!