Finke's cleaning up on the glass

Finke's cleaning up on the glass

CHAMPAIGN — Michael Finke's zero rebounds in Illinois' charity exhibition loss to Eastern Illinois set the bar for what the redshirt junior can't do if the Illini are going to be successful.

Wednesday night's 96-62 victory against Division III Augustana set another bar for Finke. A more aggressive tact on the boards in the second half gave Finke 10 rebounds for the game and was only the second career double-double for the 6-foot-10 forward.

"Now that he's had a double-double and had 10 rebounds, I can expect it from him every night," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said with a sense that's exactly what he'll expect from the Centennial grad moving forward this season.

The next opportunity comes at 6:30 p.m. today at State Farm Center against North Carolina Central (2-4).

"Now that he's got 10 rebounds and went after it aggressively, hopefully those will be great feel good moments for him and he'll continue to do that because we need it," Underwood continued later.

The Eastern Illinois game was a bit of an eye opener for Finke. Namely in the fact he doesn't want to play like that.

"Zero rebounds in that game, that can't happen," Finke said. "The coaches got on me for it. Rightfully so. I've been hard on myself with that. The second half (Wednesday) I started rebounding more, and I think that's what got me more in the flow of the game."

The other half of Finke's double-double against Augustana came with his game-high 20 points — a mix of three-pointers (three in the first half) and dunks (three in the second).

"Shooters shoot," Finke said, echoing a statement he's made throughout his Illinois career. "I just need to stay with that having confidence. I know the coaches have confidence in me with that."

Underwood wants Finke to shoot the ball at every good opportunity. His combination of range and size makes him a threat on the perimeter.

"You have to account for him," Underwood said. "When Michael gets in trouble is when he tries to do things he can't do like dribble drive it and act like Curly Neal. I think he's about 0 for the year when he puts the ball on the floor and does things he can't do. ... He's an elite shooter. He's one of the best shooters not just in the Big Ten but in the country."

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