Harrington's Insider: How to beat Minnesota
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 (note: Sean will call Saturday’s Penn State-Nebraska game - 8 p.m., ESPNU. Also, follow him on Twitter: @smharrington24)
Michigan (21-2, 8-2)
The Wolverines bounced back from the loss at Indiana with a thrilling win against Ohio State.
Indiana (20-3, 8-2)
The Hoosiers felt the House of ‘Paign. Better get over it quickly with a road test at Ohio State on Sunday.
Michigan State (19-4, 8-2)
The Spartans can play any style of game: slow vs. Wisconsin, fast vs. Indiana, physical vs. Minnesota.
Ohio State (17-5, 7-3)
The Buckeyes have a huge home game Sunday vs. Indiana.
Wisconsin (16-7, 7-3)
The Badgers survived a double-overtime scare vs Iowa. Wisconsin will now face three straight ranked opponents.
Minnesota (17-6, 5-5)
The Gophers can get back on track with three straight games against unranked opponents.
Iowa (14-9, 3-7)
The Hawkeyes held a lead with under one minute in the last three games — and lost all three.
Illinois (16-8, 3-7)
The Illini shocked the world with a win against the Hoosiers. Beat the four teams below you in the power rankings and the tourney is still looking good.
Northwestern (13-10, 4-6)
The Wildcats played great in a home win against Purdue.
Purdue (12-11, 5-5)
Not really sure how the Boilermakers have continued to play .500 ball in conference.
Nebraska (11-12, 2-8)
The Cornhuskers might be seeing their last winnable game Saturday against Penn State.
Penn State (8-14, 0-10)
Likewise, Nittany Lions have a chance to pick up their first conference win at Nebraska.
Player of the Week
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Scored 41 points in two games, going 8 of 14 from three-point range. Against Ohio State, he made four three-pointers in a five-possession stretch in the second half and sealed the win with a last-second block on Aaron Craft (above).
Before every game, coaches present players with scouting reports on the opposing team. The reports expose 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 Minnesota (5 p.m. Sunday, BTN).
Personnel (top eight players)
#1 Andre Hollins
Good overall player. Can shoot the three on the catch and off the dribble. Good at getting to the rim. Likes to get out in transition. Gets teammates involved. Likes to use ball screens to get shots. Find him early in transition. Slow him down. Contest all his shots. Force him left on the drive. Keep him in front of you. Make him score over you.
#20 Austin Hollins
Good three-point shooter, but very streaky. Likes to shoot three’s in transition. Very good defender. Great in transition. Gets to the offensive glass. Locate him in transition. Don’t let him get hot from three. Box him out every possession. Force him left on the drive. Protect the ball around him.
#33 Rodney Williams
Freak athlete. Not a good shooter from three. Great rebounder. Will try to dunk everything. Likes to score over his left shoulder in the post. Box him out EVERY time. Don’t fly out on his three. Make him make a few. Make him score with his left hand around the rim. Don’t let him dunk on you.
#32 Trevor Mbakwe
Strong and physical. Great rebounder. Likes to score over his left shoulder. Will back you down in the post. Push him off the block on the catch. Box him out EVERY time. If he gets an angle foul him and make him earn it at the line. Give him no easy buckets.
#11 Joe Coleman
Strong and athletic wing. Is always in attack mode. Wants to get to the rim. Not a good three-point shooter. Make him be a shooter. Force him left on the drive. Must match his energy.
#13 Maverick Ahanmisi
Backup point guard. Good three-point shooter with time. Over half his shots are threes. Contest his shot from three. Make him a driver. He can be pressured.
#00 Julian Welch
Big-body guard. Can shoot the three with time. Gets angles on the drive. Contest his shots. Keep him in front of you. Don’t give him an angle on the drive.
#55 Elliott Eliason
Big-body post. Needs an angle to score. Can shoot it out to 17 feet. Box him out. Don’t give him an angle in the post, make him score over you.
Keys to the Game
✓ Must match the physical play ✓ Don’t give up transition points
Keys to stopping Minnesota
Minnesota loves to score in transition. The Gophers will struggle to score the basketball in the half court. They will also go through some scoring droughts. Make sure two or three guys get back in transition to protect the basket first and then build out to shooters. Slow Andre Hollins down so he can’t get a clear path down the floor.
The Gophers love to play four around one. This isolates a big inside. Make sure you push the big off the block. On the catch go double or dig on the post off of a non-shooter. Make the big pass the ball out. Minnesota will set a lot of single or double screens away for scorers. Stay in the hip pocket of both Andre and Austin. Everyone else, make them come off as shooters don’t let them curl off those screens. Boxing out will be a huge key to the game. Sometimes Minnesota’s best offense is getting offensive rebounds. Make sure all five players box out on every possession.
Keys to scoring on Minnesota
Minnesota is mainly a man-to-man team. They are very athletic and physical. The Gophers like to pressure the ball and convert defense into offense. You must be strong with the ball. Because of the pressure defense, back cuts will be available. Minnesota is good when they are set. It is really important to move the ball from side to side. It is just as important to set screens and cut hard. You have to break the Gophers down with movement.
The Gophers will not trap the post. Establish good post position and take your time to make a good post move. Minnesota will hedge ball screens hard. Make sure you protect the ball coming off a ball screen and then turn the corner and attack the lane. When Minnesota goes to a 2-3 zone they really bring the two corner defenders high up on the floor. It will be important to move the ball from side to side and there will be open baseline jumpers. The middle of the zone can also be attacked.