NCAA Tournament Scouting Report: Illinois
To make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, an All-America caliber guard
is almost a necessity. Illinois has three.
Point Guard Deron Williams is the catalyst, averaging 12.2 ppg and 6.5
assists. He’s the most complete of the three—big, strong, and quick
enough to handle the ball, drive into the lane and create contact, or
spot up for threes.
Dee Brown is the most explosive and the Illini’s emotional leader. Brown
averages 13.4 points a game to with 4.5 assists and a team-high 1.8
steals, while shooting a blistering 50.8 % from the field. He’s so quick
he’s been nicknamed “The One-Man Fast Break,” and he’s got NBA
Luther Head is often overlooked, but
he’s the most athletic and also quite versatile. Often the recipient of
a perfect pass from Williams or Brown, especially on the fast break,
Head averages a team-high 15.8 ppg.
The trio has been together for three
years now, and their chemistry is the driving force behind their
success. Illinois is perhaps the best passing team in the nation,
averaging 19 assists to 10.9 turnovers a game.
The inside combo of James Augustine and
Roger Powell is often overlooked, but the duo has been steady all season
long, especially on the defensive end.
Augustine is an athletic, versatile
defender at 6’10, 230 pounds. His footwork and help defense are
excellent, and he’s adept at avoiding foul trouble. He’s not a 3-point
shooter, but is excellent inside the arc (especially facing up),
shooting almost 63%.
Powell is a bit of a ‘tweener at only
6’6, but he uses his sculpted 235-lb. frame and good leaping ability to
play bigger than his size. He’s almost automatic inside the lane,
conjuring up images of ex-Arkansas star Corliss Williamson.
Although the issue has been overblown,
lack of inside depth is one that has hindered Illinois
Jack Ingram is rapidly improving as Augustine’s backup, but his
offensive game is limited to mostly spot-up shooting. Both
Ingram and the rail-thin Smith can be taken advantage of at times on
defense due to lack of quickness. Big, talented frontlines like UConn’s and North Carolina’s can wear out the Illini.
Other weaknesses are less
pronounced, but could crop up at some point.
Brown, Head, and Williams are good
one-on-one players, but they’re much more effective when sharing the
Illinois also has a tendency to rely
too much on the three, but their defense is usually good enough to carry
them through off-nights shooting the ball.
Summary: With the support of
their rabid fans, and a relatively easy bracket, Illinois looks like an
excellent bet to get out of the Chicago region. A possible second-round
match-up with Texas might be their toughest test until a likely Elite
Eight tilt with Oklahoma State.
More Big Ten
NCAA Tournament Scouting Reports
So you think the Big Ten had a
down year? Most conferences would kill for 5 NCAA Tournament
teams, and the #1 seed in the entire field of 65. Maybe the Big
Ten isn't as strong as it has been in recent years, but you'd be foolish
to just ignore the damage that a Michigan State or Wisconsin can do.
Nick Meyer presents scouting reports for each Big Ten team that's
playing in the post-season, including NIT bound Indiana.
Indiana Scouting Report
Return to the
NCAA Tournament Homepage.