CHAMPAIGN — Brad Underbrush keeps in mind seeing Lou Henson as well as Bobby Knight challenge in earlier versions of the Illinois-Indiana competition.

His aide, Chester Frazier, has some direct experience as a previous Illini guard. Fresher Ty Rodgers claimed he saw the video games maturing in close-by Michigan also.

Frazier additionally got ready for the competition by sending a tweet after the Illini’s sway Minnesota with a video clip of his well-known handshake as well as bump with Hoosier Eric Gordon in the February 2008 conference in between the groups.

Those trains as well as gamers will certainly all plan for the competition’s most current version at the State Ranch Facility (7:30 p.m. Thursday on Fox Sports 1).

“It was enjoyable to have background like that as well as practice,” Underbrush claimed. “To me, this is what makes university basketball enjoyable.”

Illinois enters into the match on a four-game win touch, as well as renovations from freshers like Rodgers, Jayden Epps as well as Sencire Harris. Those gamers, together with an efficient Brandon Lieb cameo off the bench, offered required deepness when the group entered nasty problem versus Minnesota.

The fresher triad are currently all important parts of Illini’s 8 guy turning that will certainly return Luke Goode right into the layer in the coming weeks.

“I resembled: ‘People, we don’t just need you all to have a good little freshman year,’” Matthew Mayer said. “’We need you all to be centerpieces for our team. Just weather the storm and y’all are going to be huge for us. Just keep that belief.’ Seeing how they’re doing is fun to watch.”

One of the biggest roles Rodgers plays is as a defensive stopper off the bench. He guarded Minnesota’s point guard and its star big man Dawson Garcia during the course of Monday’s game.

Even more versatility was on display when he was seen at practice running routes as a receiver and catching a football thrown from Frazier. That ability to guard multiple players on the court could be used again against the Hoosiers, where he could match up with some of the team’s young guards in Jalen Hood-Schifino or in the team’s star big man Trayce Jackson-Davis.

“I just get excited when I get to guard the best player on the other team,” Rodgers said. “I feel like I’ve always done that.”

Lieb played a career-high 12 minutes and played more in the first half than in any game of his career up to that point. He finished with four points, two rebounds and a block of Dawson Garcia that started a fast break.

After biding his time and waiting his turn for the past couple of seasons, he came in and contributed to help Illinois get a halftime lead before running away with the game down the stretch.

Illinois’ Brandon Lieb (12) vies for a rebound against Alabama A&M on Dec. 17. in Champaign, Ill. Lieb played a career-high 12 minutes against Minnesota on Monday.

“I just love the staff, I love my teammates,” Lieb said. “I do not think I’m ever someone to simply kind of quit and give up, so I just wanted to keep playing for them.”

Those role players stepping up and finding their respective niches has helped the team on its conference run, and will remain important as conference play continues.

“There’s value in playing the preseason we play and going through some of the trials and tribulations,” Underwood claimed. “These guys aren’t scared. They’re not afraid.”

Follow Anderson Kimball on Twitter at: byAndy Kimball

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *