In one season they all called their ‘last dance’, Go Dosunmu and his senior Illinois teammates ended their careers with a run-of-the-mill performance.
In an incredibly gruesome performance Sunday in their 71-58 loss to 8th Loyola Chicago in the second round of the NCAA tournament, the final game of some of these seniors and the program’s best player will not be remembered.
Dosunmu, the first player in the program to win the National Player of the Year award (USA Today) since Dee Brown was selected by The Sporting News in 2005, couldn’t find an attacking pace as his back-to-back double-digit streak stopped at 42 against Loyola’s hunting defense. Dosunmu, who has announced plans to leave Illinois for the next NBA Draft, ended his last college game just 4 of 10 with just two rebounds and just two assists in 37 minutes.
Dosunmu, who was the only Division I college basketball player in the past 11 seasons to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and five assists, set a record six turnovers in the defeat in the second round and was beaten several times on the defensive. fine for layups cut in the back.
“At the end of the day, I’m disappointed with myself. I’m disappointed with the way I played, ”Dosunmu said. “I don’t think I played by my standards. I don’t think I played far from the way I wanted to play to help my team win. I understand that.”
Dosunmu, who is one of the few players in school history to go through a Senior Day celebration at State Farm Center without being a four-year-old, was an All-America first team selection by USA Today, the United States Basketball Writers Association. and Associated Press. However, on Sunday it was his native Chicago rival and his friend on the opposing sideline who outshone him in almost every way imaginable. Loyola chief goaltender Lucas Williamson finished the contest with 14 points and the Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year held Dosunmu 4 of 10 shots. Williamson and Dosunmu played on the same Little Fry League basketball team in Chicago years ago as elementary school players. The two then faced off in high school as rivals in the Chicago Public League with Dosunmu attending Morgan Park and Williams playing Whitney Young.
The last time Dosunmu was in double digits and Illinois (24-7) lost the basketball game was the Big Ten Conference opener last season when the Illini was dropped from 59-58 in Maryland on December 7, 2019.
In his video announcing his return to Illinois for his junior season, Dosunmu set the bar of expectations for himself and this season of Illini basketball by saying, “I need this national championship” and Sunday was the realization of the 21-year-old that the dream will not come true.
“I hope I remember myself as the guy who really helped transform this program. That’s what it is, ”Dosunmu said. “When I came here to Illinois, I came here, of course, to try to win a national championship, but my main focus was to help put this program back on the map, to make this program the one of the national powers. We didn’t do it today, but at the end of the day, this bunch of guys, there’s no one on the team that I want to go to war with. Throughout the season, COVID protocols, capable of playing all games, without positive tests. I just think we sacrificed so much to get into this position, and I’m extremely proud of the guys.
In the current era of sports culture what have you been up to, Dosunmu admitted after that crushing loss that his NCAA tournament performance would be scrutinized.
“I really felt like I let my team down today, but I can take it. I can take the criticism, ”Dosunmu said. “I can take whatever comes, I can take it. I went through it all. It’s another bump in the road.
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood tried to sum up Dosunmu’s career perspective in the history of the program. Dosunmu led the Illini in scoring and assisting each of their three seasons at Champaign and led the program out of its longest NCAA tournament drought since 1981.
“My hats to Ayo. He does a great job of leadership and has been instrumental in this area, ”said Underwood. “His jersey will one day be hung on our rafters.”
Trent Frazier, The main goalkeeper from Illinois who coined the phrase “the last dance” for this 2020-2021 season as a tribute to the documentary Chicago Bulls / Michael Jordan, ended his career as Illini with one of his worst performances career shooting. Frazier finished 1 in 10 on the court and was 0 for 5 on a three-point range. Frazier’s two points on Sunday were his lowest total since going unscored in the home loss earlier this season to Maryland on Jan.10.
“We’re not going to win a lot of games when Trent is 1-10 and Ayo has had a rough night,” Underwood said. “That’s one of the great things about March Madness is you have a day off and you lose.”
From Monte Williams will leave Illinois with only one NCAA tournament victory in his college career after his father, Frank, led the Illini to six tournament wins in three consecutive appearances between 2000-2002. Da’Monte Williams, a senior co-captain of that Illini squad, came into that game against Loyola leading the country in the 3-point shootout at 55.6%, but the Peoria native never had a look. net beyond the arc and came from two runs and three rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
“Our guys were locked in, and I thought they did a really good job in transition defense and ball screen defense,” Loyola head coach Porter Moser mentionned.
Under NCAA rules, Williams and Frazier are eligible to return for a sixth season next fall, but senior duo Illini and Dosunmu are likely to have ended their college careers by bringing Illinois back to the tournament. the NCAA for the first time in eight years. in a post-season race, they probably thought it would last longer.
“You know I’m really tender-hearted, and man, when you walk in and you see kids crying I’m very emotional anyway, and I always go before I think about the positives and the positives,” said Underwood. “You know, the game is over. We will have ample time to consider it. But I’m with these guys in the locker room, and it hurts for them. I am really sad that today was not our day. “
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