Notes | Goode establishing important role for Illinois

Jan. 12—CHAMPAIGN — Luke Goode scuffled through the same shooting struggles as his teammates during the Illinois men's basketball program's summer trip to Spain.

The Illini shot 20 percent from three-point range in three games during their foreign tour, and the 6-foot-7 junior guard wasn't immune from shots not falling with just three makes in 14 attempts from deep. Goode's remedy to those struggles — his plan to leave them seven time zones behind — involved creating an everyday shooting routine.

Goode gets together with assistant coach Tyler Underwood and some willing managers as rebounders and puts up shots before every Illinois practice and game.

"I wanted to develop something that I could get into a flow before practice and feel good about myself before games and have confidence," Goode said. "After Spain, we kind of had a two-to-three week break and I came back and started developing that routine. I've stuck with it since then."

Goode stuck with that routine when he made just 2 of 12 three-pointers against Missouri, Fairleigh Dickinson and Northwestern. Goode said the message he got from the Illinois coaches was to keep shooting, and the result was a 4 of 8 showing from beyond the arc at Purdue that netted the Fort Wayne, Ind., native a career-high 16 points.

"It's more just confidence and having a rhythm," Goode said about being a shooter. "Any person that shoots the ball at a high level will tell you they have one thing that they do or a couple things that they do that get them in a rhythm. When you feel good in your shot before you start playing in live action it just makes it a lot easier."

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Goode has been playing major minutes in the wake of Terrence Shannon Jr.'s suspension following a rape charge from an alleged incident in September in Lawrence, Kan. It's an expansion of an already larger — and new — role for Goode after he played sparingly as a freshman and missed most of his sophomore season after preseason foot surgery.

"I was talking to my parents the other day on the phone," Goode said. "I went from a freshman being scared to make a mistake to now I can go in there and miss a shot or make a turnover and know that I'm going to stay in the game and be able to make up for it. That's what you work had throughout the whole process."

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Illinois coach Brad Underwood called Goode a "sneaky, really good defender" and spent most of the last six days harping on Goode as a rebounder because of his ability to do better than his zero rebounds in last week's loss at Purdue. But it's Goode's skill as a shooter that makes him invaluable to this Illini team.

"Luke makes us better from the standpoint he creates opportunities drawing defenders away from the paint, drawing defenders to him," Underwood said. "You can't lose him. He's a guy, because of his prowess, he's toward the top of everybody's scouting report. Top of the scouting report guys are really important. He's got a niche being able to shoot that basketball. Every time he lets it go I think he's going to make it."

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Michigan State coach Tom Izzo went viral early in the week for his comments after the Spartans dropped an 88-74 game Sunday at Northwestern. The target of Izzo's anger? It was his team, but he got there through analytics.

"The stats — all you analytical guys, I hate analytics, because they're phony," Izzo told reporters after the game. "Sooner or later you look at a guy's heart, you look at a guy's eye, and then you find out about a guy. Everybody in the NBA and college now they want analytics. Analytics? What does analytics mean here? Huh? Does it mean we won the game?

"Analytics are crap. You know what? Sooner or later, guys gotta just muscle up. We just came off one of our best games we could play, and I had a guy (Malik Hall) that played his best and doesn't get a rebound. I don't even think he scored a point. I mean, it's ridiculous."

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Underwood regularly mentions analytics throughout the season — particularly when discussing his team's offensive and defensive efficiency.

It's a metric that's entered everyday college basketball conversation through websites run by guys like Ken Pomeroy, Bart Torvik and Evan Miyakawa.

Underwood said he uses analytics to "help teach and coach and motivate." Still, he has a kindred spirit in the coaching world in Izzo.

"I think there's value in (analytics), but I also think he and I think alike in one area — you realize what it takes to win," Underwood said. "Winning is competing. Winning is fighting. It's usually the team that plays the hardest. It's the team that is the most connected. It's the grit. Who's going to find the loose possession? Who's going to get an extra rebound?

"Ultimately, that wins. If you can't get them connected and playing together and playing hard and fighting and playing harder than the opponent, more often than not those nights you're not going to win. He and I believe in that, and there's no analytics to that. ... Winning is really, really hard. Finding that little edge to find out how to win at this level is the difference between great and good, and nobody's done great better than Tom Izzo over his career."

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Future Illinois forward Morez Johnson Jr. was selected Thursday to represent Team USA at the 2024 Nike Hoop Summit on April 13 in Portland, Ore.

Johnson was one of 12 players picked for the U.S. team, which will face a World team at the Moda Center in Portland.

Johnson is currently starring for 14-2 Thornton. The Wildcats have won three straight after losing in the championship game of the Big Dipper to Homewood-Flossmoor. That streak includes a victory against Richmond Heights (Ohio) in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 and against reigning IHSA Class 3A state champions Metamora in the Highland Shootout. Johnson is averaging 17.8 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.3 blocks and 2.4 steals. The 6-foot-9 forward is shooting 53 percent from the field overall, 40 percent from three-point range and 70 percent at the free throw line.

The U.S. roster for the Nike Hoop Summit includes two other future Big Ten players in soon-to-be Rutgers teammates Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper. The rest of the team includes three future Duke teammates in Cooper Flagg, Isaiah Evans and Patrick Ngongba II, Kentucky signees Boogie Fland and Jayden Quaintance and David Castillo (Kansas State), Ian Jackson (North Carolina), Tre Johnson (Texas) and Asa Newell (Georgia).

A total of 287 Nike Hoop Summit alumni have been drafted into the NBA, including 15 No. 1 picks and 92 in the top 10. That group also includes 37 NBA All-Stars and the last two NBA MVPs, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, who both played for the World team.

Scott Richey