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Good Morning, Illini Nation: A shrinking rotation

Jan. 13—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 and college basketball at large:

Illinois' rotation has shrunk in the four games since Terrence Shannon Jr. was suspended. Not that the Illini were going all that deep when they had Shannon, but his suspension coupled with injuries to Nico Moretti and Amani Hansberry and Sencire Harris' redshirt means there aren't all that many players to choose from in the first place.

Underwood essentially used a six-man rotation in Thursday's win against Michigan State. Dain Dainja played a few minutes off the bench, but Justin Harmon was the only non-starter that wound up in a significant role.

Typical for the last few games. Marcus Domask is playing 37 minutes per game. The rest of the tightened up rotation — Coleman Hawkins (34 mpg), Quincy Guerrier (32 mpg), Luke Goode (32 mpg) and Harmon (26 mpg) in a similar spot. Ty Rodgers might start as Illinois' nominal point guard, but he's dealt with illness and some unique opposing defenses the last two games and is only playing 20 minutes per game in his last four.

"You always want your best players on the court who are playing the best as much as possible," Underwood said. "That's how you win at the high major level. You don't win putting bad combinations or guys who aren't your best.

"The one thing I do feel great about is Coleman can go all day. Coleman never gets tired. He's Trent Frazier-like in that area. He's unique in terms of his ability from a conditioning standpoint. Marcus has proven throughout his career he's a 35-minute a game guy.

"Getting down 20-4 (at Purdue) didn't give me many options or make me feel very comfortable. It was kind of the way it went. I love our bench. We've obviously got to find the right opportunities to get Dain on the court because he impacts the game."