The Illinois basketball team beat Minnesota the first time around by 27 points, so I expected a closer game on Saturday.
Here are four observations from the Illini victory over Minnesota.
1. Kofi has been working
As a basketball player, Kofi Cockburn doesn’t have too many flaws. The 7-foot big man is one of the most dominant players you will find nationally when it comes to the paint.
But there has been one glaring issue for Kofi this season. The free throw line seems to be the biggest bugaboo for Illinois’ biggest player.
Over the past three games, Kofi has failed to hit 60-percent of his free throws. He was 3-of-6 against Wisconsin, 7-of-12 against Nebraska and 3-of-6 against Northwestern. That is a combined 13-of-24 from the charity stripe, which comes out to 54-percent.
Since that game against the Wildcats on Tuesday, there has clearly been work on Kofi’s free throw shooting. He started hot in the Minnesota game on Saturday. Most of the hot start consisted of him making his free throw attempts.
What has changed with Kofi’s free throw attempts? He is way more balanced at the free throw line. In the previous games, he would try one foot forward and would try to guide the ball into the basket. Against the Gophers, he was balanced and just shot the ball. The correction worked perfectly.
Kofi finished the Minnesota game shooting 4-of-4 from the free throw line. If he can continue shooting like this from the charity stripe, then he becomes an even bigger weapon. Keep an eye out for the next couple of games to see if Kofi can continue his great free throw shooting.