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Scouting Notes: Illinois



Indiana basketball vs Illinois basketball
A deep dive into Illinois and some of the challenges it could give the Indiana basketball program in Saturday's matchup. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana basketball gets back on the floor after a week off when it travels to Illinois on Saturday afternoon.

The Illini come into Saturday at 14-5 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play in Brad Underwood’s seventh season. Offensively, Illinois is ranked 7th nationally with a rating of 122.1. Defensively, the Illini are ranked 87th nationally with a 102.7 rating. Overall, they rank 10th in the KenPom ratings.

Here is a deep dive into some of the challenges Illinois could give the Indiana basketball program.

Key Players

Terrence Shannon is back on the court and brings an entirely different dimension to this team when he’s available. Shannon has terrific quickness, strength and toughness and has a great mix of athleticism as well. Shannon plays most possessions with the ball in his hands and can create for himself or teammates off of the dribble. Shannon is best when he’s getting downhill and attacking the basket and can finish easily through contact. Shannon draws nearly seven fouls per game and attempts 7.6 free throws a game — converting on 77.8 percent. The lefty makes 2.3 3s per game at 37 percent and is a very good catch and shoot perimeter player in addition to his ability to pull up. He is just 1-of-10 from 3 in his two games back from suspension. Shannon is a blur in transition and will try to get out and run whenever he has the opportunity. He is a bit risky when he has the ball, however, and has a higher turnover rate than assist rate. The Indiana basketball guards need to do everything they can to limit his transition opportunities and make him go right as much as possible. He’s going to get his shots, it’s just a matter of how difficult Indiana can make it on him. In the three losses that Illinois has with Shannon in the lineup, he’s shot below 37 percent in all three games.

Someone who has stepped up in a big way is transfer Marcus Domask. The 6-foot-6 wing is a crafty player and while he has struggled from three this year — just 23.1 percent — he is still a very capable three level scorer. Domask does a good job creating for himself but also utilizes a lot of ball screens. He’s not super quick so he typically isn’t blowing by opponents. But, he has good footwork and body control to create good looks from 17 feet and in. He’ll take long 2s and a lot of mid-range pull ups. Domask isn’t going to be a flashy playmaker but he ranks first on the team in assists and assist rate. He also ranks 12th in the league in assists. Indiana needs to find a way to be physical and speed him up.

In the front court is a versatile forward in Coleman Hawkins. Hawkins does just about everything for this team on both ends of the floor. At 6-foot-10, he plays much more like a point forward and is very perimeter oriented. Hawkins is a major threat from three, shooting 36.4 percent on 4.8 attempts per game. Over 50 percent of his shot attempts per game are 3s. He’ll be used in a lot of high pick and rolls and with his versatility as a shooter and passer, it puts a lot of pressure on defenses and especially opposing big men. Defensively is where Hawkins is best, however. He can guard nearly every position on the floor with his length, footwork and athleticism. Hawkins ranks first in the Big ten in defensive plus/minus and third in defensive rating. He’s had nine games with multiple steals and five games with multiple blocks.

Quincy Guerrier is another transfer who has had a positive impact this season for the Illlini. Guerrier is a hybrid forward who is able to score on the perimeter but also be used as a slasher. He has a great frame and toughness that allows him to get to the foul line nearly four times per game. Guerrier will see most of his made field goals come from inside the paint as he uses his body to back down smaller defenders. Guerrier is also a tremendous rebounder. He ranks in the top 10 in the Big Ten in total rebounds, defensive rebound percentage and overall rebound percentage. This will likely be an x-factor in Saturday’s game. He’s averaging 15.8 points and shooting 42.6 percent from three in the last 15 games, including seven double-doubles in the last nine games.

Rounding out the starters is a hybrid guard Ty Rodgers. Rodgers is a bulky and physical guard who has an old mans game. He lives in the paint and welcomes any sort of physical play. He is often times used as a primary ball handler to get the offense in sets, but rarely has plays run for him. He is no threat from three, just 0-of-1 in 52 career games. Rodgers is a terrific rebounder for his position and loves to crash the glass. Indiana’s guards needs to force Rodgers to be a playmaker off of the dribble as he’s not a great distributor and not a shot-creator.

Off the bench are two perimeter players in Luke Goode and Justin Harmon. Both players are shooting above 40 percent from three and are instant offense when they come off of the bench — averaging 7+ points each. Goode is strictly a shooter with 82.8 percent of his attempts coming from three. Harmon is shifty with the ball in his hands and is a good slasher. Both players are in to score and score only. Dain Dainja is the third member of the bench but played sparingly this year. He is a big body at 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds and is a powerful force in the paint.

Coach Q&A: Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson discusses upcoming matchup with Illinois

Key Tendencies

Illinois is a high-powered offense with a lot of versatility and shooting on the floor at all times. Four of the top six scorers shoot above 37 percent from three. The biggest hurdle for Indiana basketball is the amount of one-on-one play that Illinois brings to the floor. The Illini rank just 298th in assists per made field goal, so IU needs to be able to have some of its better on ball defense this year. Illinois is a fantastic rebounding team and rebounds 37 percent of its missed shots on the offensive end — 16th best rate in the country. It coverts 13.4 offensive rebounds per game into 15.8 points per game — leading the Big Ten in second-chance points. It also ranks third in the conference in percentage of points off of free throws, something Indiana basketball ranks last in during conference games.

Defensively, Illinois is an average team but a lot of its strengths are areas that Indiana needs to win. A major focal point is the free throw line. Illinois’ defense ranks ninth nationally in free throw rate and opponents also getting just 14.8 percent of their points from the free throw line — 348th in the country. Like past years, Illinois typically will not double the post which can create a lot of one-on-one opportunities for Malik Reneau. If a double does come, Indiana’s wings need to be ready to shoot. Illinois is not a team that will face a lot of turnovers or create a lot of live ball opportunities from steals, ranking just 344th in steal percentage.

Overall, Indiana is going to face a team with a great deal of versatility on both ends of the floor. Defensive rotations need to be a huge priority for Indiana in this one while really staying strong on the ball. There will likely be opportunities to run with Illinois’ heavy offensive rebound attack. It needs to convert. But, at the end of the day it’s going to be rebounding as a whole that will determine this one. If Indiana struggles on the glass, Illinois could run away with this.

Projected Starters

G – Ty Rodgers (Sophomore; 6-6, 200)

Stats: 6.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.4 apg

G – Terrence Shannon (Senior; 6-6, 210)

Stats: 20.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 37% 3pt

G – Marcus Domask (Senior; 6-6, 215)

Stats: 15.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.4 apg

F – Quincy Guerrier (Senior; 6-7, 220)

Stats: 11.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 32.8% 3pf

F – Coleman Hawkins (Senior; 6-10, 225)

Stats: 12.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.9 spg, 1.3 bpg, 36.4% 3pt

Key Notes

  • Illinois’ 82.7 ppg ranks as the team’s highest since 1993-94
  • The Illini ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in rebounding margin (+9.6)
  • Illinois leads the Big Ten in second-chance points at 15.8 points per game
  • Indiana leads the all-time series 96-91, including wins in the last three matchups

SEE ALSO: Indiana basketball looking to ‘soul search’ amid recent skid as week-long break could come at a good time

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.