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No change in Shannon's status

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CHAMPAIGN — Terrence Shannon Jr. was ruled out for Tuesday night's game against Northwestern as expected after he was suspended last week following his arrest on a charge of rape in Lawrence, Kan.

Shannon's suspension was automatic, per Illinois' student-athlete misconduct policy, and triggered by his arrest.

That policy also dictates the three-person student-athlete conduct panel convene within 48 hours to determine whether the available information "justifies withholding the student-athlete from some or all athletic activities pending resolution of the charges or allegations."

The details of that process, including whether the review has happened or Shannon has requested a delay as is his rights in the student-athlete code, is unknown. Associate chancellor for strategic communications and marketing and campus spokesperson Robin Kaler said that discipline process is confidential.

"As the athletic department has indicated, if Mr. Shannon's status changes, we will share that information," Kaler told The News-Gazette.

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The News-Gazette received a copy of the incident report concerning Shannon on Monday from the Lawrence Police Department.

Details about the criminal investigation were denied following the request of records pursuant to Kansas statute.

The Kansas standard offense report indicated the alleged incident took place shortly before 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, at what was only referred to as a tavern, night club or bar.

The charge of rape, sexual intercourse without consent and use of force, indicated Shannon was not suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The second charge of sexual battery indicated Shannon was suspected of using alcohol and used what was referred to as a personal weapon.

That is defined, per the Kansas incident based reporting system handbook, as fists, feet, teeth and the like.

Shannon is currently scheduled for a Jan. 18 court date at the Douglas County 7th Judicial District court in Kansas.

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Tuesday night's 96-66 win against Northwestern was Illinois' second without Shannon, as Big Ten play resumed.

Replacing the All-Big Ten caliber guard, who was well on his way to earning All-American honors, wasn't straightforward. A veteran roster with more 22-, 23- and 24-year-olds than freshmen, though, makes a difference.

"Us being connected is part of us being old," said Illinois forward Quincy Guerrier, who at 24 is the oldest player on the team and in his fifth and final season of eligibility. "We've been in a lot of big games in our careers. I came here to win a Big Ten title. We're going to do everything we can to keep winning games.

"We all hold ourselves accountable. We have a banner out there where we set our standards. We're communicating. It just feels like a family. That's really important for team chemistry to feel connected."

Illinois coach Brad Underwood has said repeatedly this season — and multiple times last week in the wake of Shannon's suspension — that this is as connected of a team as he's had.

"It's a group I'm excited to coach every single day because they're very matter of fact," Underwood said. "They've got the 'next-game-up' mentality. We've kept it that simple all year long. We haven't varied from what our standards are, and this team's standards are to be the best they can be every day. That's been very much appreciated on my end from day one."

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The restart of Big Ten play puts familiar teams on the schedule the rest of the season. The players might be different year to year — basically a given in the transfer portal era — but coaching turnover has been few and far between in the conference with Penn State's Mike Rhoads the only first-year coach in the Big Ten.

Northwestern's Chris Collins, on the other hand, is in his 11th season with the Wildcats.

"Coaches don't change a lot," Underwood said about preparing for Big Ten opponents. "We know what teams like to do. We pretty much have the play cards. There's different things that happen in the course of the game you've got to make adjustments, but there's still a few guys that are always keys."

Underwood believes his team could cause some game prep problems for opponents this season. Even if the opposing Big Ten coaches know what he likes.

"I think one of the things I like about our group is that I think some teams do have to try to figure out how to guard us," Underwood said. "I think Coleman (Hawkins) is the best pick-and-pop 5 in college basketball. How do you want to guard him? What do you want to do with a point guard (Ty Rodgers) who gets 15 rebounds? There's things we can cause other teams to have to adjust to."

It's a direct result of Illinois going to an offense that relies on exploiting matchups where they can be found. Like Hawkins against slower bigs or post-ups from Marcus Domask. An offense Underwood still believes can work even without Shannon.

"The ball is in Marcus and Ty's hands a lot anyway," the Illinois coach said. "Everything we're doing is matchup based — more so than it is trying to run set A or set B. We've got a lot of very talented players, and we'll keep looking for those opportunities."

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Shannon's absence, for however long it lasts, means 33 minutes per game has to be replaced. That likely means a larger role for fifth-year guard Justin Harmon and freshman guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn.

The change for Harmon could mean a reversion to a more familiar role he filled at Utah Valley. The 6-foot-4 guard was the Wolverines' scoring leader in the 2022-23 season and basically split ball-handling duties with Trey Woodbury.

"I don't want to say it's been easy for him," Underwood said about Harmon's role with the Illini. "It hasn't. It's really hard being a transfer when you only have one year. To jump into this thing and know you could be in a different role and you don't know what your role will be."

Harmon again had a solid performance on Tuesday night, finishing with 20 points in 29 minutes off the bench. He went 4 of 5 from three-point range.

"All he's done is try to do what we've asked. You go from a prominent scorer to a guy we're asking to be an impact off the bench and not know what your minutes are. Learn different terminology, a different system, a different way of playing."

Gibbs-Lawhorn's playing time has vacillated because he's a freshman guard on a veteran roster. The 14 minutes he played against Fairleigh Dickinson were his most in more than a month.

"Dravyn works as hard as anybody in this program," Underwood said. "He overthinks things sometimes, which is a really good thing and typical for a freshman. He wants to be perfect. It's challenging him to do what he does every single day in practice because we can't guard him. I mean, we have a hard time guarding him. He hit a fadeaway off a post-up that most people not named Kobe Bryant can't make. He's just that guy. He's a gifted hard shot maker."

Scott Richey