The Good: Ayo and Giorgi
Giorgi Bezhanishvili scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Ayo Dosunmu scored 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting. These two freshmen have been a bright spot for Illini and give them something to build on for the future.
Granted, there is some talk of Ayo heading to the NBA, but the smart money is on him returning to Champaign to improve his game and draft stock.
The Bad: Iowa’s offense breaks Big Ten Tournament records
No one likes being on the wrong side of a record performance. Unfortunately for the Illini, this is where they found themselves near the end of their second-round loss to Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament.
In their only regular season matchup, Iowa blew out the Illini as the Hawkeyes sunk 15 three-pointers. Then, last night, the Hawkeyes broke Big Ten tournament records by making 31 shots on 25 assists, while also torching the Illini for 12 three-pointers.
Several of us knew Iowa could score, but no one expected the Illini to be on the wrong side of history.
The Ugly: The Illini are staring into the abyss
The dark reality of where the Illini sit as a program set in during the second half against Iowa and continued into the cold and windy Chicago night as fans made their way home from the United Center. Iowa was reeling coming into the Big Ten Tournament, but still looked superior to the Illini.
The Hawkeyes, losers of their last four regular season games, were in their comfort zone the entire night as the Illini looked helpless.
The Illini also looked helpless in last week’s regular season losses to Penn State and Indiana. Now, the Illini have to face the demoralizing truth that they are still regressing. Everyone thought Bruce Weber was the bottom of the pit. Then, everyone assumed John Groce was bottom.
Now it appears Brad Underwood is the bottom.
Truth be told, we have no idea where the bottom is for this program, but let’s hope the bottom is right now and that the program will go up from here.
Like Lou Manheim told Bud Fox in Wall Street, the Illini must stare into the Abyss and figure out how to get better as a program.
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