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Good Morning, Illini Nation: Coleman Hawkins' defensive impact

Jan. 3—Welcome to "Good Morning, Illini Nation," your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He'll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood's team:

Coleman Hawkins put up 13 points in Illinois' Tuesday night win against Northwestern. The 6-foot-10 forward was 2 of 5 from beyond the three-point line and 3 of 4 inside the arc as he showed more assertiveness offensively beyond long-range shooting. That included a pair of second-half dunks.

Still, Illinois coach Brad Underwood referenced Hawkins' defensive performance against the Wildcats before delving into what he did offensively.

"Everything you don't have to coach," Underwood said to describe Hawkins' defensive impact. "He is instinctive. He's smart. He's coming over in timeouts and talking to me constantly. He just understands everything about that side of the floor. Then he's got length and he's got the mobility to guard a lot of guys. We got him on switch there with (Northwestern guard Boo Buie) in the first half, and he was pretty good with that. He does everything we don't coach, and then he knows our stuff really well and knows the scouting report really well."