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Enjoying the Build: Thoughts on Illinois

Another game to just throw out the window.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers loses 91-60.

The Wheels Have Come Off: Things really started to tumble when Mike Williams went down and it’s only gotten worse since. Williams seems to have kept everything in check, and each game you can see another layer start to peel away. The offensive and defensive rebounding wasn’t there. They gave up a ton of threes, including to Trent Frazier—who went 4 for 4 just in the first half after shooting 29% for the year.

Eugene Omoruyi’s Injury Hurt: The injury was bad. As the play went on and Omoruyi lay on the floor, you could see Rutgers players no longer care about the game only their teammate. Hands on heads, walking away from Eugene, and Corey Sanders screaming toward the bench. It took the wind out of their sails and Illinois took a big lead and extended it even more. Along with Williams, Eugene is the other heart and soul of this team and it appears he is going to be out for a long time.

Not Much Else to Say: Usually I do four thoughts, but tonight I’ll do three. This does not take away from my long term optimism for Steve Pikiell. He has five guys with promise eligible to play next year that didn’t this year. Up until the past week, the team has played ridiculous defense and with more depth and length that can only get better. But since the Wisconsin victory (except for a crazy surge against Iowa) every possible break and call has gone against Rutgers. There are injuries where they avoided injuries last season. There is a lack of a favorable whistles (watch the first five minutes of this game while it was still a game). Every chance Rutgers has during this season to gain momentum came crashing down around them. Unfortunately that happens in builds sometimes, but it is really hard to watch as a fan. Eighteen months ago, fans were talking about a possible 6 year rebuild. I don’t think that tonight accelerates or decelerates that. The key is to keep grinding.