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
The Wolverines made it look easy against West Virginia, getting 52 points from Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Hoosiers are still really good, but Butler exposed some of their weaknesses in an overtime thriller.
Ohio State (9-1)
We will find out if the Buckeyes are a good team or a great team Saturday when they host Kansas.
The Illini will get a top eight ranking for Christmas if they take care of business in the Braggin’ Rights game.
It is hard not to get excited about the Gophers, but we have seen them start hot before. Can they carry it over to the B1G?
Michigan St. (10-2)
The Spartans are quietly taking care of business. If they beat Texas big, we can get excited about them again.
The Hawkeyes continue to rack up the midmajor wins. True test begins in 10 days against Indiana.
The Badgers have two more tuneups to get the ship heading in the right direction for the Big Ten.
The Wildcats’ slim NCAA tournament hopes might have just gone out the window with the loss of Drew Crawford.
The 11-day break came at the perfect time for a struggling Boilermakers team.
The Cornhuskers play hard, but two 20-point losses show their lack of firepower.
Penn State (6-4)
The Nittany Lions continue to squeak out wins without Tim Frazier in the lineup.
Player of the Week: Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
In two games, Thomas scored 38 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in cupcake wins. Let’s see what he can do when the Jayhawks come to Columbus on Saturday.
Before every game the 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’ strategies for defeating Missouri (5 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2, WDWS 1400-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM).
Personnel (top nine players)
#21 Laurence Bowers
Leading scorer. Scores in a variety of ways. Can shoot the three, runs the floor well, gets to the rim with the dribble. Hits offensive boards. Go-to post move is turnaround righty hook. Must beat him back in transition. Contest all shots. Stay down on shot fakes. Make him score over his right shoulder in post.
#1 Phil Pressey
Really quick. Great in transition. Takes some quick shots. Good three-point shooter. Attacks the rim. Good passer. Pick him up in the backcourt. Slow him down. Keep him in front of you. Make him score over you. Make him go left on the dribble. Contest all shots.
#42 Alex Oriakhi
Hits the boards hard. Ball screen and dives to the rim. Wants to drop step in the post or go to his right hand. Box him out every play. Push him off the block before he catches it. Make him score going over his right shoulder.
#33 Earnest Ross
Great in transition. Really attacks the rim. Strong finisher. Offensive rebounder. Average shooter. Must find him in transition on the wing. Make him make a few threes before you fly out at him. Box him out. Charge prone.
#5 Keion Bell
Good in transition. Slashes to the rim. Active hands on defense. Poor three-point shooter. Stay under control on closeout. He wants to drive. Find him in transition. Protect the ball around him.
#3 Tony Criswell
Scores a lot around the rim. Can shoot out to 18 feet. Good driver. Attacks offensive boards. Box him out every play. Make him score over you in the post. Don’t fly out on his shots. Make him be a shooter.
#14 Negus Webster-Chan
Good in transition. Good three-point shooter. Prefers to drive right. Find him on the perimeter. Don’t let him get hot from three. Make him put the ball on the floor. He can be pressured.
#35 Stefan Jankovic
Shooter with deep range. Can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Contest all his shots. Make him drive left. Pressure him.
#32 Jabari Brown
Talented player. Only his second game of the season. Prefers to shoot the three. Can get to the rim. Turn up the pressure on him. Contest his shots. Make him drive left.
Keys to the Game:
- Play under control
- Slow down Missouri’s offense
Keys to stopping Missouri
Get back in transition. Phil Pressey pushes the ball as good as any point guard in the country. Pick up Pressey in the backcourt to slow him down. Make Pressey score over you. Be physical with Bowers. Have a body on him at all times. Put a quicker defender on him at times (Joe or Brandon). Make Oriakhi catch off the block. Rotate fresh bodies in on him. Be physical with him.
If Missouri scores, it loves to run the same play again on the next possession. They run a lot of 4 out and 1 in. Guards defending Ross or Bell need to dig down or trap Oriakhi when he catches in the post. On the double high screen they like to dribble off the 5 man’s side, and he will dive. Other post will flash to the top of key for a high/low look. Deny the pass to the 4 man and it kills the play. They will run a guard over the top of a pro cut that turns into a wheel action. In the wheel action they will set three double screens for three different guards. Stay on the guard’s tail and bigs be ready for a post-up at the end of the action.
Missouri has struggled attacking a 2-3 zone. This will also slow them down. A triangle and 2 would also throw off their rhythm. Play man-to-man on Bowers and Pressey with no help responsibilities. Try to completely take them out. The other 3 are in a triangle. One man by the free throw line and the other two on each block, which would help neutralize Oriakhi. Make the other players beat you.
Keys to scoring on Missouri
Missouri will do a lot of switching. Most of the time the Tigers will switch everything 1-4 and sometimes 1-5. Lots of movement and screens will confuse them. Slipping the ball screens will lead to open shots and dives to the rim. Screening your own man also will confuse them on screening actions. Both defenders will stay with one guy.
Because of all the switching there will be mismatches. It will be important to exploit these mismatches. Guards need to drive to the rim when being defended by bigs, and guards need to get the ball into the post when they are being defended by guards. Make Oriakhi run the floor. Bigs can beat him in transition.
Watch for Missouri to play some 2-3 zone. The middle is wide open against the 2-3 zone.
Most important is to play under control. Missouri wants to speed teams up. There will be open shots early. Don’t be afraid to take open shots but make sure they are not forced or too quick. These shots will be available any time during the possession.