Good Morning, Illini Nation: A finite number minutes

Nov. 6—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:

The closing stretch of Illinois' exhibition win against No. 1 Kansas gave a little insight into how Brad Underwood might work his rotation this season. At least in high-level games like that where a win (even in an exhibition) had meaning.

Today's season opener against Eastern Illinois and Friday's game against Oakland could be different. The potential for a big win is there. So, too, is a chance to go deeper in the rotation. Spread the minutes out.

But with Marquette coming to town in just more than a week, Underwood might lean toward a trimmer rotation. Rely on those older guys again.

What the rotation winds up being will be an interesting subplot for the 2023-24 season. Illinois has 12 scholarship players. All of them could probably make a case to play. But there's a difference between could play and will play. Going eight or nine deep might be enough.

What makes the finite number of minutes available trickier is having at least two players who should get 30-plus minutes in Terrence Shannon Jr. and Coleman Hawkins. There's a case to be made Marcus Domask should be in that minutes neighborhood, too.

So here's a rough, hypothetical rotation with projected minutes played (think Marquette game and not EIU since everybody might play in the latter):

* Terrence Shannon Jr. — 34 minutes

* Coleman Hawkins — 32 minutes

* Marcus Domask — 30 minutes

* Ty Rodgers — 25 minutes

* Quincy Guerrier — 25 minutes

* Justin Harmon — 20 minutes

* Luke Goode — 16 minutes

* Dain Dainja — 12 minutes

* Sencire Harris — 6 minutes

That leaves out the three freshmen. For now. All three have the opportunity to work their way into the rotation. Amani Hansberry could do it with his rebounding. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn might knock down too many shots to keep him off the court. Nico Moretti is the only pure point guard on the roster.

But for now? Don't be surprised if Underwood leans on his veterans. The Illinois coach made it a goal to "get old" this offseason for a reason.