CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois men’s basketball have to rely on freshman this year, while several made an impact right away, Ty Rodgers had a slower start.

Now, the Illinois forward says he’s getting comfortable on the court and it’s showing. Rodgers may not excel on the stat sheet, but his defense is having a presence on the court, continuing to fight on the boards for rebounds and it’s paying off with more minutes.

“I just know that’s going to keep me on the court,” Rodgers said. “The more I crash the glass, the more I get those rebounds, the more it’s going to help the team and that’s all I have to do.”

“He’s invaluable to our team and he works so hard every day and it’s nice to see good things happen to guys that work that hard,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. “He’s a terrific player, he can handle the ball, he can rebound it, he’s guarding literally 5 different spots at times. That versatility is a plus.”

Illinois will play at Iowa on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.