B1G Game 9: Gophers visit Illinois (1-28-24)

Ignatius L Hoops

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WHO’S GOING TO TURN THE BEAT AROUND?


Last season, head coach Shauna Green’s first in Champaign, the Illini burst on the scene finishing 11-7 in the B1G and earning their first NCAA bid since 2003 when Theresa Grentz roamed the sidelines. It was a remarkable turnaround from the previous season’s 1-13 conference record that brought Matt Bollant’s demise.

Minnesota did its part inflating the Orange record by contributing two wins. The Illini defeated the Gophers 70-57 in Williams Arena and 69-62 in Champaign. Minnesota’s best player was the now departed Rose Micheaux with 24 points and 14 rebounds in the first game and 24 points and 11 rebounds in the second. While Braun and Battle had some moments, Micheaux had little help.

On the other hand, the Illini spread the offense around to players whom we will see Sunday afternoon. Makira Cook, who had followed Green from Dayton to Champaign, led the way with 20 points and 4 assists in the first meeting and 21 points and 5 assists in the second. The two games saw Adalia McKenzie total 33 points and 17 rebounds. Cook and McKenzie received help from Kendall Bostic, Genesis Bryant and Bryan Shoup-Hill in sweeping the Gophers.

The return of an effective starting line-up augmented by N C State transfer Camille Hobby pumped up optimism in Illini land. Then, in an exhibition game, Makira Cook suffered a concussion and missed the next three games. That was followed by a career ending ACL injury to 20 minute per game fifth year guard Jada Peeples at Northwestern. Illinois has struggled to gain traction. And following last night’s 59-67 loss to visiting Ohio State, the Illini are 2-6 in the B1G.

Wins: @ Northwestern 93-52 and Rutgers 93-52

Losses: Michigan 48-84, @ Indiana 71-77, Wisconsin 61-67, @ Nebraska 48-56, @ Maryland 82-90 and Ohio State 59-67.

The loss to Ohio State is a good example of Illini frustration. After outscoring the Buckeyes 20-4 in the second quarter and leading OSU 33-20 at the half, Illinois, harassed by the Ohio State press slowly gave the game away. It shouldn’t happen to a team featuring quick, high scoring guards and rugged post play.

Shuana Green’s post-game comments:

"I'd say for 30-some minutes, we played really great basketball, especially the first 20 minutes. That was some of the best basketball we've played. In the second quarter, I thought our defense was elite. We were locked in. We were on it and held them to four points.

"We knew that their pressure would ramp up in the third, just like it did last year, and we had 10 turnovers in the third quarter. They scored easy baskets out of it. Even after that, we were still right in the game and had chances. It just came down to they made some shots, and we missed some. I told the team in the locker room: We were 18-for-40 on shots in the paint. We can't miss those easy shots against a team of this caliber like Ohio State.


Green acknowledged Kendall Bostick’s effort:

"For a five player to be able to play 40 minutes and play that hard, I don't know if there's another five in the country that can do what she does for 40 minutes. It is absolutely remarkable. In the fourth, I'm like, 'KB, you good? You need a quick breather?' There was no way she wanted to come out of that game. I forget that she might need a break because she can go for so long. She was 6-for-8 from the field, 18 rebounds, 13 points. She had a great, great day."



Here are the Illini to watch:

Starters (Big Ten Stats):

Makira Cook
is a 5’6” senior guard averaging 15.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 34.3 minutes per game. Cook makes the Illini go and posted 16 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assist versus Ohio State. She also had 5 of the teams’ 21 turnovers versus the Buckeyes.

Genesis Bryant is a 5’6” senior guard averaging 12.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 32.1 minutes. Bryant is a dangerous scorer who dropped 15, 17, 19 and 14 points in her last four conference games.

Kendall Bostic is a 6’2” senior forward averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds in 33.1 minutes. Bostic had a double-double versus Minnesota last season. She posted 11 and 13 against Northwestern and 13 and 8 versus Maryland. She’ll be a particular problem for the Gophers,

Adalia McKenzie is a 5’10” junior guard from Park Center averaging 9.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in 27.3 minutes. She scored 14 against Rutgers and 12 against Maryland.

Camille Hobby is a 6’3” graduate center averaging 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18.8 minutes. Hobby had been on a run including an 18 point 7 rebound game against Maryland before Ohio State held her to 4 points and 6 rebounds.

Off the bench:

Bryan Shoup-Hill
is a 6’3” graduate forward averaging 3.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 17.6 minutes. She had 14 points and 6 rebounds versus Nebraska.

Gretchen Dolan is a 5’11” freshman guard averaging 4 points and 1.3 rebounds in 16.9 minutes.

We get to watch two frustrated teams trying for that turnaround win. Hopefully it’s the Illini who need to break out the “wait ‘til next year” refrain.
 

gopherdudepart2

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I would be willing to bet Illinois will run a press and sideline trap against Gophers, like OSU employed against them.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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COOK IS COOKING

After being sidelined with an injury for the first three games of her senior season and working through a slow start when she returned, Makira Cook has found her groove again. The returning All-American scored 12 or more points in eight of the last nine games for the Illini, with six of the games on the road. Across the nine-game span, Cook averaged 15.9 points/game, 5.0 assists/game, and 2.9 rebounds/game.

DATEOPPONENTPOINTSREBOUNDSASSISTS
12/20/23vs. Arkansas (West Palm Beach)17115
12/21/23vs. UTEP (West Palm Beach)1729
12/31/23at #16/15 Indiana2415
1/7/24Wisconsin1831
1/11/24at Nebraska803
1/14/24at Northwestern1817
1/17Rutgers1207
1/20at [NR/RV] Maryland1313
1/25#12/12 Ohio State1675


KENDALL BOSTIC: YEAR 3 AS AN ILLINI

Since her arrival as a sophomore ahead of the 2021-22 season, Kendall Bostic has continued to find ways to impact the Illinois program. She's started every game since her arrival from Michigan State and has been a double-double machine. Bostic is approaching 100 career games played and has broken into numerous top-10 lists as an Illini. The post has recorded 24 double-doubles, which ties for 8th on the UI all-time list. (^ indicates Illinois single-season record)

SEASONGAMES PLAYEDPOINTS/GAMEFIELD GOAL %REBOUNDS/GAME
2021-22276.749.4%11.4^
2022-233210.262.9%^9.8
2023-241812.364.4%9.4
AT ILLINOIS779.559.3%10.3
 


Gophers112233

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the first 5 minutes will be telling I believe.. hopefully we come out with a bit more sense of urgency and energy
 



SHGopher

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The streaming radio broadcast is very good before and after the game -- and during the game too.

Interviews and other information you can find nowhere else.



Update: Rights now talking about how Illinois struggled in the 3rd quarter this season. Was a surprise big success story last season.
 


Katogopher

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This team simply cannot shoot. Lot of close looks again but can’t connect. Hope it improves. At least it’s a better start than against the Badgers.
 



FanofGoldy

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BTN+ broadcast quality is making me question my eyesight. is it just me?
 

gwbbfan82

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Just turned the game on. That must've been the fastest 1 qtr ever.

Broadcast is a little fuzzy.
 












DietCokeFan

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Another disappointing 3rd quarter. Help side defense on the dribble penetration is horrendous. Hopefully they can lock in down heading to the 4th. Need this win.
 

Katogopher

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Team just collapsed after Braun went out. Hope Braun injury isn’t serious
 


NateDawgUM

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Team just collapsed after Braun went out. Hope Braun injury isn’t serious
Certainly looks relatively serious. Not season ending but she'll be out several games.

WNIT probably the new goal
 





Katogopher

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Good god, are we heading to weakling Wednesday again? How will the keep up with fast paced Penn St?
 

Gophers112233

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sorry but I don't like
Was only watching on live stats, what is Mara’s injury? 🥲
made a 3 and came down on either her foot wrong or an Illinois player ankle.. but after the made 3 she left.. and didn't return.. all of our monument went POOF after that
 




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