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 upcoming game
Michigan (17-1, 4-1)
■ The Wolverines dominated Minnesota at the Barn after a tough loss at Ohio State.
Indiana (15-2, 3-1)
■ The Hoosiers should get back on track with games against Northwestern and Penn State after a shocking loss at home to Wisconsin.
Minnesota (15-3, 3-2)
■ The Gophers found out how tough the Big Ten is with losses at Indiana and home against the Wolverines.
Ohio State (13-3, 3-1)
■ The Buckeyes are back in title contention with a big home win against Michigan.
Wisconsin (13-4, 4-0)
■ The Badgers impressed everyone with a blowout win against Illinois and a statement win at Indiana.
Michigan State (15-3, 4-1)
■ The Spartans are quietly taking care of business. We will find out how good they are with five straight games against ranked opponents.
Iowa (12-5, 1-3)
■ After getting their first conference win at Northwestern, the Hawkeyes might upset Wisconsin on Saturday.
Illinois (14-5, 1-4)
■ The Illini are free-falling. After a home loss to Northwestern, the road trip to Lincoln is an absolute must win.
Purdue (9-8, 3-2)
■ The Boilermakers have looked good in conference, but they still have a lot to make up for after a very poor nonconference.
Northwestern (11-7, 2-3)
■ The Wildcats controlled the Illini from start to finish for a big win at the Assembly Hall.
Nebraska (9-9, 0-5)
■ The Cornhuskers continue to struggle putting the ball in the basket. That’s a problem.
Penn State (8-9, 0-5)
■ Effort and energy is there for the Nittany Lions, but the talent is not.
Player of the Week
AJ Hammons, Purdue
The freshman is starting to figure it out. This week, Hammons scored 26 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and blocked 11 shots in two wins.
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 Nebraska (7:30 p.m. Tuesday, BTN).
(top seven players)
#24 Dylan Talley
Very good scorer. Strong body. Not a great shooter but can get hot. Can get to the rim going right and left. Good pull-up jumper. Contest all shots. No free looks. Find him early in transition. Box him out. Make him drive left. Trap him on all ball screens.
#15 Ray Gallegos
Shooter who can get hot. Sixty-five percent of his shots are threes. Loves to score going to his left. More than 75 percent of his scores are going left. Crowd him on the perimeter. Make him put the ball on the floor and force him right. Find him early in transition.
#13 Brandon Ubel
Scores a lot around the rim. Likes to use the righty hook. Scores over his left shoulder. Good shooter to 17 feet. Can make an open three. Great rebounder. Box him out. Make him score over his right shoulder in the post. Push him off the block. Contest his shots but don’t fly at him out of control.
#32 Andre Almeida
Very big body. Needs an angle to score in the post. Good rebounder. Force him off the block. Don’t give him an angle in the post. Make him score over you.
#2 David Rivers
Very good athlete. Gets to the rim to score. Can shoot out to 17 feet. Good rebounder. Contest his shot to 17 feet but be under control for the drive. Box him out. Make him drive left.
#31 Shavon Shields
Good athlete. Scores around the rim. Likes to ball screen and dive to the hoop. Box him out. Make him score over you. Make him go over his right shoulder in the post.
#3 Benny Parker
Quick point guard who is looking to pass and set up teammates. Not a very good shooter. Wants to drive right. Don’t leave your man to double him. Make him shoot from the outside. Force him left on the drive.
Keys to the Game
✓ Don’t give them transition or second-chance points
✓ Be on the attack on offense
Keys to stopping Nebraska
The Cornhuskers are struggling to score the ball. Don’t give them any transition points or second-chance points. Make them earn all their baskets. Nebraska is not shooting the ball well, so take away penetration and make them score from the outside. A triangle-and-2 defense can be very effective. This would mean you put your two best defenders on Talley and Gallegos. These two defenders never leave these two guys. They have no help responsibilities. The other three defenders are in a triangle around the lane. Completely take out Talley and Gallegos and make the rest of the team, which averages 31 points combined, beat you.
Nebraska runs a lot of actions out of the 1-4 high set. If the point hits the wing it will be a back screen for the PG and then a ball screen for the wing with the ball. If the wing with the ball is Talley or Gallegos, trap him hard. If the point hits one of the bigs at the elbows, the other big will set a pin down for the wing, and the big with the ball will run a dribble handoff at that wing.
If Gallegos is in one of the elbow positions, they will pass to the wing opposite of him. The big will set a ball screen, but the guard will drive baseline, and the big will set a screen for Gallegos, who will come around behind the dribbler for a three.
Nebraska will get into a high/low set out of two actions. One way is to be in a 1-4 low set. The bigs will cross screen for each other, and one will flash high and the other will post up low. The other way to get into the high/low is to be in a double-high set. The point will dribble off one of the bigs, who will dive to the rim. The opposite big will stay high to make the high-low pass. Deny the opposite post the ball at the top, and the play is blown up.
The Cornhuskers also like to run a baseline runner. They will have two guards up top and two bigs on the blocks. They will run Talley or Gallegos on the baseline over and over using the bigs as screeners. Make sure you stay on the runner’s tail. Don’t get separated and make them curl where the bigs can help out on the drive.
Keys to scoring on Nebraska
Nebraska is mainly a man-to-man defensive team. The Cornhuskers like to pack in their defense in the lane. They will play ball screens a variety of different ways. However, they usually will give a flat hedge with the big and have the guard go over the screen. Illinois bigs need to set solid screens. If the guard comes off this screen tight, he will be able to turn the corner on the big defender.
On almost all screens, the Cornhusker defenders go under the screens, which means the shooters coming off screens will be able to “bump and fade.” There will not be many curls open.
Because Nebraska plays screens these two ways, Illinois will want to set screens inside the arc to give the shooter a shot that is not far from the basket. Nebraska will play behind in the post and will not post trap. Post passes should be available. Post players need to post up deep and take their time to make good post moves.
Illinois will have to make sure it takes good shots. Illinois will feel open often because of the pack defense. The Illini should try to get out in transition to score before Nebraska can get back to set its defense.