No rest for the weary Illini

No rest for the weary Illini

CHAMPAIGN — Thursday's loss to Wisconsin was a step back for Illinois after winning its first two Big Ten games and competing on the road against a ranked Ohio State.

Having to call an early morning practice Friday didn't exactly help matters. Illinois coach Brad Underwood didn't share specifics, but said that while the Illini might have been back in the gym just hours after losing to the Badgers, they weren't there for the play or result from the night before.

"This is a process," Underwood said. "It's about growth, and it's about culture. Guys have to do the right things off the court to do them on, and you have to win that way. I've got a pyramid I share all the time — talent, character, preparation and at the top of it is result — and it's got to be in that order."

Trent Frazier said Illinois had "a team issue" to work out early Friday morning.

"We're past that now and we're just going to focus on Penn State," the freshman guard said.

Illinois (12-13, 2-10 Big Ten) returns to action at 6 p.m. today against Penn State (17-9, 7-6) at State Farm Center. Finding some help for Frazier and redshirt junior forward Leron Black will be a priority against the Nittany Lions.

Black continues to lead Illinois in scoring this season, but it's Frazier — averaging 15.1 points in 12 Big Ten games — that has led the Illini offensively in conference play.

The rest of the team was just 5 of 23 (22 percent) from the field in Thursday's loss to the Badgers.

"The object is to score," Underwood said. "I don't care where it comes from. You look at my coaching career. I played with a point guard who couldn't score, and I played with one who's a pro.

"You have to adapt, and you have to adjust. There are nights that things don't work. We're challenged at times scoring the basketball."

A more consistent defense is what Frazier said could help reignite the Illinois offense. That didn't happen Thursday against Wisconsin.

"We've got to get in line, do our principles, play our principles and do what we do," Frazier said. "We didn't stick to that. We let guys catch easily, so we need to get back to that and be aggressive."

Today's game stands as another opportunity for growth for Illinois. While the "process" took a hit against the Badgers, it wasn't a debilitating one. Underwood hasn't lost faith in his team.

"I still believe this team can go beat anybody in this league," Underwood said. "But until the process becomes we're every day guys — and we're going to be that — to me, that's a challenge for character. We have to continue to strive to do that.

"Anything can happen. I'm a believer in that. I'm a believer in our locker room and our guys if they can just believe."

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Moonpie wrote on February 11, 2018 at 3:02 pm

When "team issue" appears in the Gazoo it means you won't find out what happened from the Gazoo.That would go against coddling the pograms.