Illinois Basketball: 5 observations from the Illini win over Michigan State

Illinois v Purdue
Illinois v Purdue / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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3. Illinois should have one objective for Justin Harmon

I don’t know if I have ever seen this with the Illinois basketball team. We essentially don’t have a bench right now.

Brad Underwood is bringing one player off the bench for the Illini. Justin Harmon is the lone man who is playing more than a handful of minutes each night. Harmon has been great for the Orange and Blue too.

Against Michigan State, Harmon played 31 minutes and had 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists. I like what he brings to the table off the bench, as Harmon can put up points in a hurry. But I believe Underwood should have one objective for the talented guard.

On offense, Harmon should just camp out in the corner and wait for his moment. He has his spots, and when he gets in those spots, he is nearly unstoppable.

Harmon shot 2-of-7 from the field against the Spartans, but 2-of-4 was from three-point range. He isn’t much of a scorer inside the three-point arc, and Harmon doesn’t create many of his own shots. But when he steps into a three-point attempt, he is electric.

Illinois’ offense is conducive to Harmon just standing in the corner and waiting for his shot to come too. The Illini players like to slash and drive to the hoop. The help defense then comes, and that leaves an open man on the perimeter. This is essentially how LeBron James’ teams are built. He drives to the hoop and if there is a strong double-team or triple-team, then he dishes out to a spot-up shooter.

Harmon can consistently average double-digit points off the bench. He has now hit double-digit points in three out of the last four contests. His play is extremely valuable, and I think Illinois should let him camp out in the corner and wait for his shots.