Preseason basketball is finally over with, as the Illinois basketball team took down Indiana (PA) on Friday night.
This game was actually kind of tight for the majority of the contest. Did I ever feel like the Illini were in any real danger? No, but Indiana (PA) hung tough and were only down 45-38 at halftime.
Illinois would eventually increase their lead to double-digits and win the game, 94-79.
Here are four observations from the Illinois basketball win over Indiana (PA).
1. Depth is going to be important
With many Illinois teams in the past, depth was always an issue. We would have okay starters but the bench players are where the talent would really take a drop.
That isn’t the case with this version of the Illini, though. Brad Underwood and his coaching staff have built a great rotation of quality reserves. This is important for two main reasons.
The first reason is the talent gap. When you bring in your second rotation of players, you don’t want the talent level to drop too much. With the great transfers Underwood has snagged and the talented class of 2021 that joined the program, Illinois doesn’t have that talent drop.
The other reason having depth is important is for injuries. Last night, we got to see a glimpse of why depth is going to matter throughout the season.
Heading into the game, Da’Monte Williams and Austin Hutcherson were both dealing with some health issues. They both took the night off to heal up, but we had the talent to replace these two monsters. Coleman Hawkins started in place of Williams, and players like Alfonso Plummer got more minutes off the bench to fill in for Hutcherson.
Throughout the game, Illinois also dealt with some injuries. Andre Curbelo is all over the floor, and he had a few injury scares. Trent Frazier went out early with a hurt shoulder but would come back into the game later. Having players like Luke Goode, Bradin Podziemski, and others is important to help fill the voids if these guys need to rest.
Depth matters greatly, and Underwood realizes this fact. He has done a great job building out this roster. The depth started to show against Indiana (PA).