Each Friday through the basketball season, former Illini and current BTN analyst Sean Harrington will break down the Big Ten — and provide a scouting report on a critical weekend game
1. Indiana (8-0)
Will Sheehey is averaging 12.4 points and four rebounds. He is shooting 58 percent from the floor as IU’s fifth option.
2. Michigan (8-0)
Trey Burke continues to put up Player of the Year numbers: 20 points, seven assists, no turnovers in a win against Western Michigan.
3. Ohio State (5-1)
Should be 9-1 heading into a Top 10 showdown against Kansas on Dec. 22.
4. Minnesota (9-1)
The most balanced team in the league got two wins this week by 28 and 24 points.
5. Illinois (9-0)
After sneaking by Western Carolina, the Illini have a statement game at Gonzaga on Saturday.
6. Michigan State (7-2)
The Spartans took care of business with two blowout wins this week.
7. Wisconsin (6-3)
The Badgers looked like they are back on track vs. Cal. They have another test on Saturday at Marquette.
8. Iowa (7-2)
The Hawkeyes continue to look good at home. A couple of in-state rivals are up next.
9. Purdue (4-4)
A very young team is trying to figure it out. Only four more chances to get it right before the Big Ten.
10. Northwestern (7-2)
What a week. Are the real Wildcats the ones who lost at home to UIC or the ones who won at Baylor???
11. Nebraska (6-2)
Despite losing to Creighton on Thursday, Cornhuskers are quietly having a nice nonconference.
12. Penn State (4-4)
The Nittany Lions have somehow managed to go 2-2 without Tim Frazier after going 2-2 with him.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ben Brust, Wisconsin
In two games, Brust went for 37 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. He also continues to lead the Big Ten in rebounding with 7.8 a game while measuring in at only 6-foot-1.
Before every game, coaches present players with scouting reports on the opposing team. The reports expose the tendencies of the opposition and highlight effective strategies to win. This is not the real scouting report; it is my own analysis of Illinois’ personnel and strategies for defeating Gonzaga (9 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2, WDWS 1400-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM).
Personnel (top eight players)
#20 Elias Harris
Leading scorer and rebounder. Good in transition and driving to the rim. He will post up hard. Decent shooter. Box him out at all times. Push him off the block on the post. Better driver going right so force him left. Contest his shots.
#13 Kelly Olynyk
Good shooter. Gets good post position. Likes to screen and roll to the rim. Post move is the righty hook. Must make contact with him early in the post. When he gets it in the post sit on his left shoulder. Box him out. Take charges on him.
#4 Kevin Pangos
Very good shooter with deep range. When he drives he uses the floater. Don’t leave him. Make him put the ball on the floor. Make him score over you.
#24 Przemek Karnowski
Big body. Go-to move is a lefty hook. Posts
up deep and goes to offensive glass. Don’t give him an angle to score. Make him score over you. Sit on his right shoulder on the catch. Box him out.
#35 Sam Dower
Good shooter. Good rebounder. He likes to score around the rim with his left hand. Close out on him. Make him dribble, he will turn it over. Make him use his right hand near the rim. Box him out.
#5 Gary Bell
Good three-point shooter. Great in transition. Likes to drive right and use curls to get into the lane. Close out on his shot and force him left on the drive. Find him early in transition.
#10 Guy Landry Edi
Very good athlete. Runs the floor well and crashes the glass. Decent shooter. Don’t fly out at him out of control. Make him make a few threes. Find him in transition and box him out.
#11 David Stockton
Really good passer, especially bounce passes. Good driver and solid shooter. Pressure him. Make him go left. Stay in front of him to eliminate the bounce pass. Contest all his shots.
Keys to the Game
Keys to the game
— Speed up Gonzaga’s defense
— Slow down Gonzaga’s offense
Keys to stopping Gonzaga
Illinois wants to slow Gonzaga down. The Zags are at their best when they run out in transition. Send a “bumper” (Tracy, D.J., or Brandon) to all outlet passes on makes or misses so Pangos or Stockton don’t get a clear path in transition. Post defense needs to make contact with the Zags’ post men at the free throw line so they can’t post up deep in the lane. When Gonzaga goes high/low, pressure the big at the top of the key with the ball and front the post player near the rim. Gonzaga sets a lot of ball screens. Get out early and trap them hard. Make them throw back to the big and recover. Mix up the defense between man and zone to throw off Gonzaga’s rhythm.
Keys to scoring on Gonzaga
Gonzaga’s bigs do not like to guard out of the lane. Put them in lots of ball screens and make them move. Pick-and-pops for Griffey and Henry will be open all night. Gonzaga’s bigs are not good at guarding the ball. Griffey and McLaurin need to drive to the basket. Gonzaga struggles with baseline screens. Run shooters through on the baseline for corner jumpers or curls into the lane. Gonzaga will play a three-quarter-court 1-2-2 press and use a 2-3 halfcourt zone. In the zone it is important to get the ball moving. Players cannot stand stationary. Make the bottom of the zone come out to the wings and corners where Illini players will have threes or can beat them off the dribble for lane shots or penetrate-and-kick threes. When Illinois catches the ball in the post, Gonzaga will trap the post with a guard. Post men must make a quick post move or throw the ball out of the post from where the trap came from for a shot.