Finke continues development

Finke continues development

Michael Finke knows he has work to do before he arrives at Illinois before the 2014-15 season.

Shooting. Passing. Ball handling. Finishing at the rim. Gaining weight.

Those are just a few of the objectives the Champaign Centennial High School forward wants to improve on heading into his senior year with the Chargers.

And he's putting in the work. He and his dad, Jeff Finke, a former Illinois men's basketball and football player in the late 1980s, go through the paces of an hour of individual skill work up to three times a week during the offseason at the Stephens Family YMCA in southwest Champaign.

The early-morning workouts, which usually start at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., are on top of the practices and upcoming tournaments Finke will play in with the Peoria Irish AAU program during the next four months, along with weight training and conditioning.

Needless to say, Finke is getting his fair share of basketball, even with his high school season complete.

"We actually make him take breaks," Jeff said with a laugh before the start of one early-morning workout last week. "Part of the training program we follow, with the strength and conditioning we do, is it’s one of the big pieces is to try to have at least one to two days of rest, and one day of total rest."

The workouts started a year ago, well before he committed to Illinois and before he was on the radar of many college coaches.

"I know with these workouts and with the AAU seasons during the spring and summer, I’ll improve as much, if not more, than I did this following year," said Finke, who helped carry Centennial to a Class 3A sectional championship game appearance this month for a squad that finished 22-9.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds to go along with making 47 three-pointers, tops on the team.

"Last year for Centennial, I wasn’t shooting it as much or as much as I should have," Finke said. "It could have also been because I was a sophomore and didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but this year I knew I had to take charge. Whenever I had shots, I took them. Sometimes I probably took some shots I shouldn’t have, but in the end, I think I did what I could to help my team out."

The lone commit so far in the Class of 2014 for Illinois coach John Groce is still around 200 pounds he was at towards the end of the Centennial season. It's a question Finke will hear plenty of before he suits for the Illini.

"I know I can’t play like this in the Big Ten," he said of his current body. "The goal is to try to get to 220-230 by freshman year, which I think is doable, but it’s going to take work. It’s going to feel good once I finally get to that."

And Gavin Sullivan, the Peoria Irish director, said it's not a matter of if Finke hits his desired weight and makes the necessary improvements to his game before college. It's only a matter of when.

"He’s always been a real humble kid that understands the more work he puts in, the more success he’ll have," Sullivan said. "The bigest thing is that he’s kind of taken his training to a whole other level and a step up from what it was before he committed. He loves getting after it, whether it’s on the weights or working on his skills. Coach Groce will have no problem getting him to work."


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calvin wrote on March 27, 2013 at 11:03 am

love the early commitment and love that he's a legacy, but please, remember that you are a "big guy" and not being recruited for your three pointers.......we desperately need you underneath

SteveSiggeman wrote on March 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm
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Actually,Finke is being recruited to shoot 3's.Illinois looks at him as a bigger/better version of Tyler G.

IlliniMike05 wrote on March 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Not this sh-t again.... 

He isn't a center. He's a stretch 4. He's absolutely being recruited to shoot threes. Look at the 4's on so many of the remaining contenders: Ryan Kelly, Christian Watford, Erik Murphy, James Southerland, etc. Spacing the floor with outside shooting ability is an essential element of the modern power forward. 

He's not coming here to be an overpowering low-block center. He's coming here to be the floor-spacing forward playing NEXT to that guy (whoever it may be). 

DaisyJ wrote on April 02, 2013 at 1:04 pm

The modern power forward is a poor example of a basetball player. Look at Louisville, Florida, Marquette, these forwards shoot inside the arch not outside. It is a creul joke being played on Finke by having him think success is outside the arch.

As for that floor spacing, it is only useful if you pass the ball

IlliniMike05 wrote on April 02, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Have you ever posted anything besides nonsensical, seemingly drunk ramblings about the evils of the three-point shot? Don't ever change, you delightful idiot.

You posted examples of three teams. One of those three teams had a power forward who made 72 three-pointers. Even though they lost to a very good Michigan team in the Elite 8 (a team that relies heavily on the three-pointer, so never mind, I guess they suck), that Florida team was the best team in the country on a per-possession basis this year.

Look at the Final Four teams. Three of the four employ three-point shooters at power forward, and if Pitino had a 4 who could shoot threes, he damn well would let him. (I grant that Michigan's a stretch because both Robinson and Stauskas are true wing players in a four-out offense, but they still use Stauskas in the same manner that stretch 4's are used- whereas Robinson plays more like a slashing 2/3, but he made 23 threes also if you want to be picky- so I say it's fair to count him.) 

Cleanthony Early (45 threes), James Southerland (83), Nik Stauskas (76...again, Robinson's 23 if you want to be picky)....these are the guys who play whatever their team's version of the 4 is these days. Chane Behanan? Only reason he doesn't shoot threes is because he can't. He tried last year, Pitino had to make him stop.

The moment you stop letting your every thought about basketball be colored by your dislike of a play that's rightfully been a staple for going on three decades, you might learn a thing or two rather than sitting around like an idiot remembering when the game was something different. That's not a judgment on it being better or worse. I think the college game was a lot better 20-25 years ago. The useage of the three-pointer isn't one of the reasons.

DaisyJ wrote on April 02, 2013 at 8:04 pm

How did you like the Kansas player that went to the hole for the tie, had the man beat, and then threw the ball out to the three point line for a game winner,,,NOT.  Look, Illini Mike, just because you are under age 35 does not mean that you cannot see bad basketball and bad basketball is here because it used to be that kids scored from inside the arch not outside. I saw Finke's last game this year, took one shot ( becasue it was a lob play called) inside the arch. He is 6'9 and does not care to go to the hole. Called stupid, heck, you do not even need a big man on him.

Wake up, the three ball has ruined basketball, and just because you are too young to know it is not my fault.

IlliniMike05 wrote on April 03, 2013 at 10:04 am

Elijiah Johnson making one dumb play isn't an indictment of the three-pointer as a whole. That's so insanely dumb I don't even know where to begin. It's an indictment of Elijiah Johnson being a dumb player who frequently does dumb things. If you like tiny sample sizes used to make absurd non-starters of arguments, how about minutes earlier in the SAME GAME, Trey Burke pulling up and drilling a 30-footer. That was kind of awesome.

(Speaking of tiny sample sizes, I don't know what game you saw in which Finke only shot a single two-pointer, nor do I care. I do know he averaged 16.5 points in 31 games and made 47 threes, a number any reasonable fan likes to hear knowing the role he'll be asked to fill at Illinois. I also know that means he scored 370 points on twos or free throws on the season. In other words, most of his points. The lesson, as always, is that you're dumb.)

You don't know how old I am, nor does that matter. I'm willing to put my knowledge of basketball history up against just about anyone, younger or older. That doesn't matter either.

The three ball hasn't ruined basketball. Look at how efficiently and intelligently NBA teams use it these days. A big chunk of NBA offenses are built  around creating open corner threes, because it's the most efficient shot in the NBA game. Pro teams run great action to get those looks because opposing defenses know it's coming. It's a joy to watch because it's smart basketball and it's entertaining.

The college game is undoubtedly not as good of a product as it was 20-25 years ago, like I said. It has nothing to do with the three-pointer. It has everything to do with the game being slower, more defensive-oriented and more controlled by coaches. The main reason it's become this way is because the best talent is gone after a year or two, so the most talented teams are too young to have developed the cohesiveness to regularly score 80-90 points, and the most experienced teams have limited or no pro talent on their rosters. Louisville is a runaway favorite with only one guaranteed NBA player, Giorgi Dieng, on their roster. 

A funny thing, though. Per-possession offensive efficiency was actually slightly better in 2012 than it was in 1992. The three-pointer is unquestionably a major reason for this.

Nice job totally ignoring me killing your argument that the best teams' forwards shoot inside the arc. And no. Louisville being the one team whose power forward doesn't shoot threes isn't the reason they're the best team. Then again, you never actually respond to anything actually said. You just go into the same lazy, nonsensical diatribe about the three-pointer being responsible for all the bad things in your life, leaving me to wonder why I waste my time responding to idiots.


DaisyJ wrote on April 03, 2013 at 11:04 am

So so glad you responded as you have. Mr. Johnson did make a dumb play, a dumb play becasue we have the 3 point shot stuck into our heads and it was there to take.

Burke was not in the same place as Johnson, you and I both know it.

Game for Finke was Sectional final this year. You agree I guess that 6'9 in high school and he thinks he is a guard. Big mistake.

I can guess your age, as you have never seen a game that the three line was not there. It has changed the game for the worse. Kids will stay at the three line when they have a drive or no one in front of them  with in ten feet. It has turned into a game of horse (no defense in a game of horse). 


And just why is the game not as good as it was 25 yrs ago. Twenty five years ago the game was better than the game 25 years before. Now you are understanding my age.


How about that Louisville, with forwards that shoot where the percentage is better and how abou the coincidence that they are in the final 4 ,,duh

IlliniMike05 wrote on April 03, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I know what the game was like 25 years ago, and the 25 years before that. I also have a better grasp on you do as to why the game has changed. Your continued belief that the three-point line is one of the reasons it isn't as good....saying it over and over again won't make it true.

It's not a coincidence that Louisville is in the Final 4 with forwards that don't shoot threes. But they aren't there because of that, either. As important as it is to have forwards who space the floor for the modern offense, it's far from the only aspect of basketball. Not every team can create the huge number of turnovers that Louisville can and quickly turn them into points and still be solid defensively and beat teams up on the glass on possessions where they don't get takeaways. Louisville is playing historically good defense this year. That's why they're where they are.

It also isn't a coincidence that the other three teams employ high-volume three-point shooters at forward. You don't get to keep pointing out Louisville and ignore how many other really good teams use the 4 spot as a three-point shooter these days. I'm not saying you have to like it, or prefer it to 1988 basketball. I don't, either. The difference in today's game is talent. Imagine this year if Anthony Davis, MKG and Teague were still at Kentucky; if Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers were still at Duke; Jared Sullinger still at Ohio State; hell, if Meyers Leonard were still at Illinois. You can start and stop right there if you're looking for reasons why the game has changed for the worse. I don't know how the game would have evolved differently without the three-point line, nor do I care. Living 30 years in the past like that is a loser's proposition. You can keep bragging about being old all you want. I don't care about that, either, and it's kind of creepy that you keep bringing it up. I know damn well what basketball used to look like. I just don't feel the need to color my every last thought about the game with thoughts of what it was like decades ago. Nobody cares.

DaisyJ wrote on April 04, 2013 at 10:04 am



Like I said, you are too young to have watched enough ball before the three.


Myers Leonard had no signature inside moves.


Look, when you see kids that do not care about scoring inside the arch then you

get the bad shots and non extra passing or cutting and end up with  the non skilled offenive players 

like you do. To think that Finke could care less about scoring  inside the arch

at 6'9 says it all.   He is misguided. .

IlliniMike05 wrote on April 04, 2013 at 1:04 pm

You've completely given up on responding to anything actually said. Your go-to move is trying to talk down to people based on your age. You have nothing to say, so I'm done with you. I don't know why I wasted this much time with you in the first place, but that's my fault.

DaisyJ wrote on April 04, 2013 at 1:04 pm

you cannot possible understand if you did not watch for yourself 15 years of basetball without the three point shot. However, just watch the game today, kids hugging the three line that used to go into post up or rebound or cut for a pass. The game today looks like pass around keep away. It is not popular to not like the three, I understand that, but scoring according to Jay Bilas, the NCAA is down and this is becasue we shoot to many three balls. Heck , it is down even with the shot clock.

Go look at Skip Thoreen of the Illini, he average 25 per game and 12 rebounds. I remember Indiana vs. Illinois and Dave Downey scored 53 and they lost 103 to 101. Today, we gt 59 to 54

and lots of bad three ball shooters. .The three came in to allow teams to have a chance to comeback, even though they were not nearly as skilled as the team that has the lead on them.

Big whoop.

Moonpie wrote on March 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Steve above is right --another Tyler Griffy, who took years to become mediocre. But the Sleepy Gazoo cheerleads anyway.

CecilColeman wrote on March 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Where was there cheerleadning? Whatta nitwit.............

IlliniMike05 wrote on March 27, 2013 at 10:03 pm

If you haven't had kids already, sterilize yourself. And if you have, deport them. One of you is too many.