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Illinois head coach Brad Underwood disagrees with a call in the second half in a NCAA basketball game at the State Farm Center in Champaign on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.

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CHAMPAIGN — Brad Underwood didn't cancel Illinois' Saturday practice. The team still went through a walkthrough the day after beating UT Rio Grande Valley, but that's about all the Illini could manage.

Tacked on to injuries to guards Trent Frazier (knee) and Andre Curbelo (neck) has been a flu bug that's been making its way through the team. Jacob Grandison missed the UTRGV game, and Brandin Podziemski played just 2 minutes against the Vaqueros after not practicing or going through shootaround with the same illness.

Now Illinois is down another player heading into Monday's Big Ten/ACC Challenge game with Notre Dame. Underwood said Sunday redshirt sophomore forward Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk, who had six assists off the bench Friday against UTRGV, was out with the flu. He had no update on Frazier, Curbelo or Grandison.

"I am doing my biggest Mel Tucker, my best impersonation of him (Sunday) and (Monday)," Underwood said, referencing the Michigan State football coach. "What did they have 23 guys out with the flu and different variations of stuff? ... We've definitely got the flu bug going around. We did not practice (Saturday) because of everything we have going on and going around. I have never in my 35 years not practiced because of that. We're all in a tough spot."

Underwood had to take a couple factors into consideration when he changed Saturday's practice plan to a simple walkthrough. It was part the hit to his team's depth with several players out. The other part was the fact Da'Monte Williams, Kofi Cockburn and Alfonso Plummer all played at least 30 minutes against UTRGV with Coleman Hawkins and Austin Hutcherson close behind at 26 minutes.

"You've got to figure out what is your risk/reward," Underwood said. "If everybody's healthy, (Saturday) was a great day to just grind their (butts) and get after it because we didn't play very well the other night. It's November, and it's a day to get better and a day to really grind mentally and charge them up and get going. There was no reward in doing that (Saturday) if we didn't have enough bodies and there's guys logging a lot of minutes that, if healthy, will need to do the same thing (Monday)."

Underwood did say that the Illinois players out with illness had the flu. It wasn't a COVID-19 problem.

"Everybody else around us has COVID, but our players have not," Underwood said. "Within our staff we've got COVID amongst families, but that's neither here nor there right now. ... I know this. We're going to show up (Monday) night, and we'll fight our (butts) off. We're going to compete.

"If we've got six guys in uniform, we've got six. I relish those opportunities. I don't look at them as a pity party. I look at them as an opportunity to do something nobody in the world thinks we can do. Everybody that wants to wallow in pity, that sure as hell is not me."

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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