WCIA — Italian point guard Niccolo Moretti has enrolled at Illinois and is joining the team immediately as Illinois men’s basketball makes its second in-season addition of the season.
The 6-foot-1 guard hails from Bologna, but arrives in Champaign from the NBA Global Academy in Australia. Moretti joins the team after fellow international Zacharie Perrin joined in December.
Time will tell how quickly Moretti joins the team, as Illinois is right back on the court Monday in Minnesota. The Golden Gophers find themselves in the cellar of the Big Ten at the moment, but finally picked up their first win at Ohio State last week. This will be the third game in seven days for the Illini, but Brad Underwood says the coaching staff is managing the load.
“The challenge has been we’ve had a lot of the late games,” Brad Underwood said. “It’s a short, abrupt, more mental day yesterday in terms of preparation. We move very quickly from the previous game and move right on to the next. We try every day, after every game, to find one or two things that we have to clean up. And then we work on it or talk about it.”
No matter how fresh their legs are, the Illini should have momentum with three straight wins. After an 0-3 start to Big Ten play, Illinois finally seems to have found their chemistry again. The next three games could be a turning point, as they play all teams in the bottom half of the league standings.
“Just executing what Coach Brad tells us,” Terrence Shannon Jr. said. “Sticking together, no one losing their cool or getting down that we were down in the game. Just playing the game out. Sticking together, trusting Coach Brad and our teammates. I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job of that right now.”
Tipoff in Minneapolis is 5 p.m. on Monday.