Illinois back on Track
Coach Underwood adjusts and the Illini Win
On January 4th the Illini were 0-3 in the BIG 10 and looking for some answers. Nine days later and three BIG 10 wins later, this Illinois team is back on track. Friday night, the Illini defeated a gritty Michigan State team in Champaign 75-66 in a tough back and forth game. Illinois dominated the final 10 minutes with outstanding defense and some hot shooting.
Matthew Mayer takes over
- Mayer scored 19 points on 3-6 shooting from 3 point territory. He added 6 blocks on the defensive end
- Mayer “I just got a nice bucket, then coach started running plays for us. Coach Underwood is the best coach at running plays for players who are hot”
- Mayer, “Coach is an aggressive dominant leader, but he is very humble. He made some adjustments and they are working”
- Michigan St went 0-7 from 3, Illinois 6-18.
- Michigan St coach Tom Izzo, “Sometime you will give up a two instead of a 3- 3’s are energizers- we came off the ball and cheated a couple of times when we shouldn’t”
- Underwood, “15 years holding a team without a 3- it was a big stat for us tonight.Staying home on their shooters was something we talked about a lot.We were good with them shooting midrange twos all night”
Michigan State and Illinois are both well coached. Someone had to win and someone had to lose. It is obvious both of these leaders have the ability to help their teams overcome adversity and change when needed. On Friday, it was Coach Underwood who saw his team come out on top. Coach was asked how he got this team back on track and why did he make the changes he did in the past nine days
- “Its called relationship building. Why would I want to force something that they are not comfortable doing. We have a lot of conversations. They have earned that right. I trust their judgement.”
- “No one will out stubborn me—- but if it doesn’t work, then how quick can I change”
- “I have to get them all shots…”
The BIG 10 is a grind. There are no guarantees that teams will continue winning. Illinois and Michigan State are both poised to win more than they lose. These teams are tough minded and talented and led by outstanding coaches. Look for both Illinois and Michigan State to make the NCAA tournament and win a game or two.