Sturdy's Soliloquy on the Illini's Spanish Invasion - Part I: 4 Takeaways

Brad Sturdy, Co-Host of Big Sports Radio and the IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular

August 13, 2023

Dravyn Gibbs-Lawhorn vs Catalonia courtesy Illinois Athletics

The Illini finished their Spain trip 3-0 after a 103-69 win over the Catalina All Stars on Sunday morning.

Now they return home to Champaign on Monday and the question is what did we learn? In Part 1, we will give our quick takeaways and a player-by-player rundown is coming in Part 2. 

These 3 Things (and an Extra Thing)

  1. Shooting Remains a Concern - The Illini shot 3-25, 6-28 and 7-26 from 3-point range for a cumulative total of 16-79. That’s 21%. They need to make 30% this season, and the addition of Marcus Domask will certainly help, but this team needs to be more selective with their 3-point shooting and their 3-point shooters. Free throw shooting is also a concern, especially at the PG and Center positions. The Illini were 46-77 from the line over the 3 games, just 60% from the line. They need to improve in that area as well. 
  2. This Team is Deep - The Illini wore down each opponent with fresh legs and a ton of energy off the bench. With 12 scholarship players all capable of contributing in different areas their depth will be a massive piece as they move forward into the season. Injuries, while concerning, won’t be a season ender because they have multiple talented players at each position. However, keeping players happy can be a concern, especially once Domask returns. 
  3. Rebounding and Defense - Rebounding and defense will be the calling cards for this team. They have length, they have some physical and older players that have been through it and they have a ‘nose for the ball’. Some guys just have a knack. Illinois may miss a lot of shots, but that is also a lot of offensive rebounding opportunities where they can make up for the poor shooting. 
  4. Faster Paced - The Illini played with a 24 second shot clock in Spain, and they would like to play like they have a 15 second shot clock during the season. Defend, rebound and run is the mantra Brad Underwood has been championing this summer. They will need to push the pace and get transition opportunities to make up for a team that won’t be a great shooting team. 

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