July 12, 2024

Terrence Shannon Jr. returned this week after being suspended from the Illinois males’s basketball staff following a rape cost in Kansas, however the highlight on the Illini star solely figures to develop brighter within the days and weeks main as much as the NCAA Event.

That was obvious Wednesday evening at Welsh-Ryan Enviornment, the place Shannon and the No. 10 Illini took on Northwestern of their first highway sport since Shannon’s return. And Wildcats followers let Shannon hear it, shouting “No means no” within the first half, “Lock him up” within the second half, and chanting “Responsible” in extra time.

Northwestern took the upset extra time win Wednesday, beating Illinois 96-91.

Illinois coach Brad Underwood downplayed the unfavorable chants, calling it “insignificant” and “life on the highway” within the Massive Ten.

“We get all types of chants,” Underwood mentioned. “We’re taking part in basketball. We’ve been in plenty of environments on this league. I had rooster wings thrown at me final yr at Maryland.”

There’s all the time been some animosity when the state rivals meet, however the revival of Northwestern’s program the final two seasons and one other likelihood at a Massive Ten title for Illinois solely added gas to the hearth.

Boo Buie led the Wildcats with 29 factors, and Brooks Barnhizer added 23 in one other big win over a ranked staff. Northwestern beat then-top-ranked Purdue at dwelling in December. With the victory, Northwestern improved to 14-5 and 5-3 within the Massive Ten. The Illini fell to 14-5 and are additionally 5-3.

Shannon’s long-range 3 with 3:35 left tied the sport at 72, organising the wild ending. Justin Harmon’s jumper within the lane gave the Illini the lead with 36 seconds remaining, however Buie answered with a layup on the following journey down the court docket. Illinois had the ball and one final shot in regulation, however Marcus Domask’s jumper missed to ship the sport into extra time.

The sport featured 15 ties and 18 lead adjustments, and neither staff led by greater than 5 factors earlier than Barnhizer’s 3 with 2:53 left in extra time. Barnhinzer was fouled and transformed the free throw for a four-point play to present the Wildcats an 83-76 lead. The Wildcats pulled away, outscoring the Illini 20-15 within the OT session.

Northwestern coach Chris Collins mentioned nearly as good as Illinois was “we knew we needed to win tonight,” referring to the back-and-forth motion as a heavyweight combat.

“What a sport,” he mentioned. “The environment was electrical … It doesn’t turn out to be a real rivalry till we begin profitable our fair proportion.”

Hours earlier than Illinois stepped on the court docket, the college launched an announcement on Shannon’s standing and Underwood’s resolution to play him. Shannon returned to the staff Sunday in a win in opposition to Rutgers after a United States federal court docket granted a brief restraining order, ending the suspension after six video games.

Affiliate Chancellor Robin Kaler mentioned Underwood wasn’t concerned within the college’s resolution to droop Shannon or to reinstate him, including that the coach “was instructed to deal with Mr. Shannon as he would another member of the staff in good standing and never restrict participation based mostly on the concerned allegations.”

In different phrases, the college mainly was saying Shannon could be allowed to proceed taking part in till a decision of the felony case, which isn’t anticipated till after the 2023-24 season, and, oh, by the way in which, please don’t blame the coach for placing him within the lineup as an alternative of choosing any disciplinary measures.

Nobody needs to be stunned. Underwood wants Shannon to win, and Shannon must carry out to enhance his probabilities of moving into the NBA. They’re each motivated. The Illini’s probabilities of competing for a Massive Ten title and nationwide championship clearly had been boosted by the court docket’s resolution to reinstate the staff’s greatest participant, and the coach wants that participant on the ground.

Why Kaler felt the necessity to launch her assertion is unknown, however it’s simply one other twist within the story that grew to become public when Illinois suspended Shannon from “all staff actions” Dec. 28 after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Shannon was charged Dec. 5 with rape or another depend of sexual battery however continued taking part in for the Illini, scoring a career-high 33 factors that evening in a 98-89 win in opposition to Florida Atlantic. Shannon performed three extra video games, however after a warrant was issued for his arrest, Illinois suspended him on Dec. 28 from “all staff actions, efficient instantly.”

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman mentioned on the time that he didn’t see the charging paperwork till they had been on social media, hours after he was knowledgeable of the cost. Information apparently travels slowly in Champaign.

It regarded as if the Illini’s season was all however over and they might be relegated to the second division of the Massive Ten standings and taking a look at one other early exit from the NCAA Event, not {that a} first- or second-round loss was something uncommon for an Underwood-coached staff.

Shannon led the Illini in scoring and was thought-about a nationwide participant of the yr candidate earlier than the suspension. One voter fully dropped them out of the High 25 earlier than the Illini had even performed a sport with out Shannon. That’s how vital he’s to the lineup.

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However Domask, a Southern Illinois switch, and others stepped up and helped maintain Illinois within the rankings and within the convention race. Illinois went 4-2 throughout Shannon’s suspension and even hung with then-top-ranked Purdue on Jan. 5 in West Lafayette, Ind., earlier than dropping 83-78.

Perhaps they might survive with out their prime canine? It could’ve been fascinating to see.

However on Jan. 9, Shannon’s attorneys sought a brief restraining order, claiming the college didn’t observe protocols in suspending the student-athlete. And on Friday, U.S. District Choose Colleen Lawless granted the injunction, saying Shannon would “endure irreparable hurt” by not taking part in for the Illini. The suspension “can and can influence his profession alternatives, present revenue from his NIL (identify, picture, likeness) contract, and anticipated future revenue,” she wrote.

Shannon, who denied the sufferer’s allegations, was welcomed again with open arms in Champaign, the place he was well-liked with college students and alumni. Illini followers cheered him on when he got here out for warmups Sunday earlier than the win in opposition to Rutgers, and he obtained a standing ovation when he got here off the bench a bit of greater than two minutes into the sport.

Shannon’s future stays unsure as he faces severe allegations. The rape cost carries a sentence of 12-54 years in jail. However till he will get his day in court docket, Shannon will be capable to showcase his abilities for NBA scouts. The Illini, who moved up from No. 14 to No. 10 within the newest AP ballot, might be on their solution to massive issues if he performs to his potential and his supporting forged continues to indicate up.

After so many match disappointments after sturdy seasons, the Illini will attempt to shut out the criticism and trip on Shannon’s again right into a Remaining 4.

And if that occurs, don’t search for any apologies.