Game 18: vs. Northern Illinois (6-11, 2-3)
This will be a shortened version because when I went to post the scouting report yesterday, I lost it and forgot to save it, so my apologies!
NIU is coming off a 13 point loss at Central Michigan. Their 2 league wins were at home, by 20+ over Toledo and Eastern, where they scored over 70 in each win. Meanwhile, their 3 league losses were all away from DeKalb and in each loss they failed to break 55 points, so this is a team that struggles to score the ball in tough situations. The Huskies only have 1 true road win, and that was at Alaska-Anchorage (D-II) in the consolation bracket of the Great Alaska Shootout. Coach Ricardo Patton's program is making progress, but they still have a ways to go.
Mike Dinunno, 5'11" 177 Fr. 13 pts, 3 ass. 36% FG, 34% 3PFG, 73% FT.
Darion Anderson, 6'2" 201 So. 17 pts, 5 reb. 41% FG, 36% 3PFG, 64% FT.
Sean Smith, 6'7" 190 Sr. 8 pts 3 reb. 50% FG, 50% 3PFG, 63% FT
Najul Ervin, 6'5" 214 Jr. 4 pts, 5 reb. 53% FG, 29% FT.
Sean Kowal, 6'11" 240 So. 11 pts, 5 reb. 58% FG, 54% FT.
Off the Bench
Ante Dzepina, 6'8" 235 Jr. 4 pts, 3 reb. 53% FG, 50% FT.
Tyler Storm, 6'7" 206 Fr. 3 pts. 40% FG, 39% 3PFG, 83% FT.
Lee Fisher, 6'5" 206 Fr. 2 pts, 2 reb. 31% FG, 55% FT.
Jeremy Landers, 6'2" 185 So. 3 pts. 32% FG, 27% 3PFG, 52% FT.
Offensively, Dinunno and Anderson combine to form a very nice backcourt. Dinunno won't burn you with quickness, but for a freshman he's good with the ball and makes good decisions. He has a very quick trigger, so he can't be left alone. Anderson has built upon his freshman year and is a true triple threat. He can take you off the dribble, pull up for a mid-range shot, or hit the deep ball. Smith likes to work at the top of the key, either shooting the 3 or going to the basket. Ervin and Dzepina are garbage type players, crashing the offensive boards. Kowal has good numbers, but they're the product of being tall. His back to the basket game is below average. Storm is a catch and shoot guy off the bench.
Most of NIU's offense initiaties out of box sets. One set involves Dinunno dribbling right with Kowal rolling down the lane. While that's going on, Smith is coming off of an Ervin screen for the 3 up top or a chance to drive the lane. If he can't score, then the ball is reversed to Anderson, who then has the entire left side to operate. Another set involves Anderson again with the ball on the wing, looking for Smith coming off the bigs' screens on a shuffle cut. If the shuffle isn't open, Anderson works off a pick and roll. In transition, which ever wing catches the ball up top is going to come off a double screen and fade to the opposite corner.
Defensively, NIU will play a lot of man defense and extend it 94 feet on a lot of possessions. They pressure the ball heavily, and Anderson and Smith like to hang out in the passing lanes. Also, look out for a weak side defender to come double the post. As aggressive as they are on the perimeter, they are that lax on the back side. If you can beat their pressure out top, you can score in the lane because Ervin and Kowal are slow to help. NIU will play a lot of 3-2 zone as well, which means the short corner and skip pass will be available, the skip pass more so because NIU's wings really come out to challenge on the perimeter. The Huskies don't rebound well out of the zone, so there will be 2nd chance opportunities. In addition, NIU doesn't communicate well in defensive transition, rotating slowly to shooters.
NIU is in the bottom quartile of Division 1 in offensive efficiency, off. turnover percentage, defensive efficiency, and fouling. And those poor numbers are against weak competition. We'll be by far the best team they've played, so we can't keep them in the game and allow them to feel confident that they can hang with us. Their starting 5 is solid, but their bench doesn't contribute much. And they're the 4th worst D-1 team at the foul line (59%). If we can contain their guards, make them work for their points, we should be in good shape defensively. Offensively, ball movement will be key. We have to make them play defense for 25-30 seconds. They'll give us open shots, but we have to keep working for the proper shot to take, not just the first open one.
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