CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Four games into the Big Ten schedule and Illini head coach Brad Underwood’s team is starting to figure out its roles. A big piece of that is the bench production, with Alan Griffin’s development, along with positive contributions from Andres Feliz and Kipper Nichols. All three are playing meaningful minutes, with Griffin leading the team the last three games scoring 51 points.
“We searched for that early,” Underwood said about guys feeling confident in their role. “I think everybody was trying to be a scorer or everybody was trying to be this or that and we had an emphasis trying to get the ball inside a little bit and establish our interior play and now guys on the bench, guys starting. And as you guys know I don’t give two rips about who starts, it’s about having productivity throughout a 40 minute game and to do that you’ve got to have really good guys coming off your bench.”
The Illinois bench has outscored conference opponents 82-30. That depth is something the Illini have struggled to find the first two years of Underwood’s tenure. The ability to play so many impact guys is something the Illini will need at Wisconsin on Wednesday. The Illini haven’t beat the Badgers in nine years, 15 straight losses to their neighbors to the north. It’s been to 10 years since Wisconsin has lost at home to Illinois. Overall, the Illini are 4-22 against the Badgers since 2007.