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Northwestern: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Some positives, but late-game mismanagement ruins Illini upset bid

Ohio State v Illinois Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I had it all in my head.

Finally! An Illini victory in Big Ten play! Excellent performance from key players keys Illinois to victory. So on and so forth.

Alas, we are Illinois basketball in 2019.

In 2019, we have found new ways to lose at the game of basketball. It defies all logic.

But first, the positives.

The Good:

Ayo Dosunmu

Talk about making it look easy. He's the best player on the team right now offensively. He's been no slouch on the defensive end either.

His shot is still a work in progress, but all the ways Illini faithful envisioned the freshman ingratiating himself to this team and their rabid fanbase are coming to fruition before our eyes.

He's the lone guard who can attack the basket and finish at the rim right now. Feliz can do it from time to time, but Ayo has been much more consistent with it. His body control is unreal. He can scoop the ball under, over and around defenders to swoop the ball in. He can take defenders off the dribble and blow right by them. It's fun to watch.

Adonis De La Rosa

This was the surprise of the game. Nice bounce back performance from a guy who needed it. Twelve points in 14 minutes. He bullied a few times down low. He doesn't have the ups for a dynamic big man, but his old man game fits in with the youth of this team.

He hasn't always been perfect this year, but this was exactly the type of performance that Illinois was looking for when he transferred.

Da’Monte Williams

Hey, look who had a nice offensive game. The last time I wrote this article, Williams was hopelessly lost trying to score the ball. Well, against Northwestern he played a tough, hard-nosed game and looked, at times, like the best rebounder and defender for the Illini. Very active hands, which led to turnovers and sloppiness for the Wildcats.

He had, arguably, his best game scoring the ball, too. Mostly from the free throw line, but anything from Williams is a big win with the way he has played recently.

The Bad:

Trent Frazier

I'm convinced the Monstars stole Frazier's game the last month or so. What is going on? He can't hit shots. From three. From mid-range. He hasn't driven to the hoop with any type of consistency. He has simply disappeared. What is it about Trent and Ayo where they can't both score points together? It's absolutely maddening.

He made some nice plays today, but it was far too little for your leading scorer.

Kipper Nichols

Take what I said about Frazier, and apply it to the whole season so far for Nichols. A player that talented has no business becoming invisible for large stretches of games. No consistency on either side of the ball. Frustrating fouls.

It's the complete package of ineptitude for one of your supposed team leaders. Unacceptable.

The Ugly:

End of game mismanagement

It's been covered by everyone, but how?? How can you call two timeouts, have 10 seconds left with the game on the line, and have it result in that? Why is Ayo inbounding? I want the defense to decide which of its two great guards it has to stop. That's completely baffling playcalling to me.

This was hopefully another stepping stone back to relevance (baby steps), but it doesn't feel much better with some perspective. Luckily, we got a big commitment from a player we desperately needed (welcome Kofi!).

Maybe next year, a game like this will go in Illinois' favor.

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