Sean Harrington's Insider: How to beat Michigan

Sean Harrington's Insider: How to beat Michigan

Each week 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 weekend game

NOTES: Sean will call Saturday's Brackbuster game between Iona and Indiana State on ESPNU (10 a.m.) and work the BTN studios Sunday and Tuesday; follow him on Twitter @smharrington24


Indiana (24-3, 12-2)
■ The Hoosiers are in the driver’s seat to win the Big Ten after a huge road win in East Lansing.    

Michigan State
(22-5, 11-3)
■ The Spartans have played great but have to visit Ohio State and Michigan

Michigan (22-4, 9-4)
■ Wolverines have not looked great in the last two weeks and will host one of the hottest teams in the league on Sunday, when Illini come to town.

Wisconsin (19-8, 10-4)
■ The Badgers are in great shape to finish in the top four again for Bo Ryan.  

Ohio State (19-7, 9-5)
■ The Buckeyes have been up and down for two weeks. After pounding the Gophers, the Spartans come to town.

Illinois (20-8, 7-7)
■ The Illini are riding a five-game win streak and all kinds of momentum heading into Ann Arbor on Sunday.

Iowa (17-9, 6-7)
■ With three straight wins and two very winnable games this week, the Hawkeyes are back in the tournament talk.  

Minnesota (18-9, 6-8)
■ The Gophers are free-falling. It doesn’t get any easier with the red-hot Hoosiers coming to town Tuesday.  

Purdue (12-14, 5-8)
■ It is the wrong year to play a lot of freshmen. The Boilermakers hope the growing pains will pay off in future seasons.  

(13-14, 4-10)
■ Injuries have taken a toll on the Wildcats, who are struggling to put a competitive team on the floor.

(12-14, 3-10)
■ Tim Miles will have this team moving in the right direction in the future, just not this year.  

Penn State
(8-18, 0-14)
■ Nittany Lions are playing teams tough, but instead of moral victories, they want their first league victory.


Victor Oladipo

After playing only 14 minutes against Purdue because of an ankle injury, Oladipo returned to give Indiana a huge road win against Michigan State. He completely controlled the game with 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals.  

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’ strategies for defeating Michigan (noon, Sunday).  

Personnel (top seven players)
#3 Trey Burke
Team has struggled, but Burke is playing great. Scores every way possible. Best change of pace in the country. Terrific in the open court. Good crossover move. Can shoot the three on the catch or on the move. Loves to use ball screens. Make him shoot contested shots. Keep him in front of you. Slow him down in transition. Make him take a lot of shots to get his points.  Be physical with him.  

#10 Tim Hardaway Jr.
Explosive scorer. Very athletic. Likes to shoot threes in transition. Very good shot fake to dribble jumper move. Can get to the basket. Don’t let him get confident. Find him early in transition. Close out on shot. Be physical with him. Give him no easy looks.

#11 Nik Stauskas
Great shooter with unlimited range. Very quick release on his shot. Can get to the rim off the dribble. He will take contested shots. Find him at all times. Give him no open looks. Make him put the ball on the floor. Crowd him on the perimeter.  

#1 Glenn Robinson III
Has been streaky lately. Really athletic. Fantastic in transition. Hits the offensive boards hard. Good spot-up shooter from three. Find him early in transition. Box him out at all times. Close out on his shot but know he wants to drive. Don’t let him get comfortable.  

#52 Jordan Morgan
Has not been a factor since he got hurt in last Illinois game. Strong, big- body guy. Likes to score around the rim with the righty hook. Very good offensive rebounder. Don’t let him get his confidence back. Contest his shot to 17 feet. Make him score over his right shoulder. Box him out at all times.

#4 Mitch McGary
Has been inconsistent. Great energy. Hits the offensive boards hard. Scores around the rim. Likes to set ball screens and dive to the rim. Must match his energy. Don’t let him be more aggressive. Box him out at all times. Make him score with his right hand at the rim.

#23 Caris LeVert
Getting a lot more minutes. Good defender. Good three-point shooter. Can get to the basket off the dribble. Good in transition. Find him in transition. Contest his shots. Pressure him on the perimeter.  


✓ Win rebounding battle  ✓ Make ‘em score in the half court

Keys to stopping Michigan
Trey Burke has been the show for the Wolverines lately. He is the key to the offense. It is very important to not let him get any easy baskets. He needs to work for everything he gets. The Wolverines can score a bunch of points in a hurry. They are at their best when they can get out and run in transition. Transition baskets get them energized. It is extremely important to get back in transition. Protect the rim and then build out to shooters. Slow Burke down by “cupping” him with the guard and a big in transition. In the half court Michigan loves to make back cuts. They also like to set pin downs and ball screens. The Wolverines’ offense is a rhythm offense. It is extremely important to disrupt their rhythm. To do that you have to be physical with Michigan. Bump all the cutters to make them change their path. Contain Michigan’s penetration so you don’t have help on the drive and don’t have to make defensive rotations. Do not switch ball screens from the 4 or 5. You do not want Burke to have a bigger man guarding him. Michigan likes to swing the ball from side to side. Keep the ball on one side of the floor. Force the ball screens to the baseline. Make Michigan run its offense out on the floor. Don’t let them catch the ball in the scoring area. The Wolverines like to run a lot of their sets through the 5 man at the top of the key. Try to make the big catch the ball farther out on the floor to disrupt rhythm and timing.  

Keys to scoring on Michigan
The Wolverines are mainly a man-to-man team, but they will play some zone from time to time. Michigan will get out and pressure the ball, but it likes to stay packed inside the arc. Look for Michigan to switch 1 through 4 on ball screens. Michigan has struggled on defense lately. They will get lost on switches at times and will have mismatches when Burke switches onto a 4 man. It is very important to have great spacing on the court. Michigan has been beat off the dribble lately, and the rim protectors have not been as active lately. It will also be very important to move the basketball from side to side. Michigan’s defense is very good on the first side of the court, but it will have breakdowns with ball movement. Look to attack McGary and Morgan using ball screens. Morgan has been slower to recover since the injury. Michigan is athletic, but it plays four guards and can be prone to giving up offensive rebounds. Look to hit the glass with the 4 and 5 while the 1-3 get back to stop transition. Because of the small lineup, Michigan can be scored on in the post. Post up deep and make a good post move, especially if it is Robinson III or Horford in the post.  


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FloridaIllini wrote on February 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I really like this segment.  Sean does a nice job of a scouting report.  Might he do one on the Illini?  I think it would be interesting to read.