Gophers coach Pitino will rely on Coffey's leadership vs. Illinois

January 15, 2019 02:30 PM

Richard Pitino said his team's best overall game came when the Gophers beat Rutgers 88-70 on Saturday at the Barn. On Wednesday night, his team will face Illinois on the road, where he believes it'll be a tough place to play despite the Illini's 4-12 record.

"They deny every pass and pressure the ball aggressively. They make you play off the bounce and they rotate in the lane, and they'll send two or three guys at you trying to draw charges and it's really challenging to run any kind of offense," said Pitino.

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***CLICK PLAY ABOVE to watch the press conference from Tuesday with Richard Pitino and select players***

Gophers wing Amir Coffey is coming off his best game of the season, where he scored 29 points and shot 10-14 from the floor. Pitino will be relying on him heavily and wants to see Coffey take a more "take charge" approach with his teammates.

"He's averaging 24 a game in the league, which is terrific and he's playing a multitude of positions and he's playing the one, two and the three throughout the course of a game which is hard to do. He's guarding the team's best player a lot of the time and he's playing a lot of minutes. So, throwing all those things on one guys plate he's handling that terrifically and when we've needed a big basket he's been able to provide that," said Pitino.

The Gophers are 3-2 in Big Ten play, while Illinois has lost its last five games and is winless in the conference. The game is set for 8 p.m. at Illinois on Wednesday.

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