Notes: Miller nonetheless has extra to offer offensively | Sports activities
LINCOLN, Neb .– Adam Miller came to Illinois as a welcome addition to support the three-point shooting for the Illinois. The Freshman Guard has also fulfilled this mandate.
Miller had tried almost 21/2 times as many three-pointers as two-pointers this season when he scored the 77-72 overtime win by sixth-placed Illinois in Nebraska on Friday night. That’s 97 threes to only 38 twos.
“The big goal is to get gunshots, put down shots,” Miller said. “I was just trying to help the team win, find my spots and get back into that rhythm. (The coaches) talked to me about where my shots are. Just keep trying to play I think that’s the big thing for me. Try to get back into my rhythm and be me and be who I am. “
Anyone who was Miller before Illinois was a security guard who could score on all three levels. In 70 percent of his first season, however, he was mostly just a shooter.
After knocking down many three-points earlier in the season, Miller said he was comfortable there. He also understands that by attacking the basket he could forego good looks (perhaps a slightly contested three-pointer) in order to get a better shot.
However, doing this isn’t as easy as it is in high school for the former four-star security guard. Illinois coach Brad Underwood understands that.
“He’s very capable right off the bat, but he has to be comfortable,” said Underwood. “This is not an easy league to get the ball to the edge because everyone camps by the blocks and elbows and nails. It’s hard to do. I do not discourage him.
“He made a great trip in the Wisconsin game the other day and was fouled. I liked that. I like it when Adam hits the free throw line. He’s a good shot. I want this part to go up. “
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Underwood feels comfortable where Miller is offensive. That he doesn’t have to be number 1 this season helps. The Illinois have that in Junior Guard Ayo Dosunmu, with the second center Kofi Cockburn a more than capable number 2.
This makes Miller the third option in the mix alongside Trent Frazier.
“I think he fell into a role that is good,” said Underwood. “He’ll be a guy who can do a lot more if necessary. I think he managed to empathize with the overall game.
“Adam is really talented. He’s a guy who can score in many ways. Is there an adjustment? Absolutely. Most of this comes to taking your game off of dribbling and getting to the edge. You don’t do it like you did in high school. “
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Miller has shown a new look in recent games after dying his hair blonde.
“I really wanted to dye everything blonde when I first got the tips,” he said. “I did it this time. I wanted to get the color (Odell Beckham Jr.) when he had it dyed. That’s what I wanted. Some people like it, some don’t, but I like it and that’s all that matters. “
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Former Illinois security guard Stephen Bardo continued to serve as a basketball analyst for BTN and other FOX Sports properties. A regular online video feature is his “Unsung Hero of the Week”.
This week’s unsung hero? Illinois Senior Guard Da’Monte Williams.
“He’s one of the nation’s most improved marksmen,” said Bardo. “He shoots lights out of three, but he doesn’t shoot that much. The Illinois do not really count on his offense. What he does well is that he defends, bounces back, and makes the extra pass without hesitation.
“He’s a bulldog. He loves physical contact, physical confrontation. It offers the Illinois a level of toughness that is a little unexpected in that it is too small but doesn’t twist it. Da’Monte Williams will not compete with anyone. He will guard 1-5. He will switch. He doesn’t hesitate to confuse it with anyone else at the Big Ten conference. “
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Midfielder Cockburn, knocked down in Illinois’ win over Wisconsin last Saturday, was an anomaly.
At least based on where the 7-foot center’s shots came from this season.
On the way to Friday night’s game against Nebraska, Cockburn had attempted 182 shots that season, which were broken down as such – 42 dunks and 80 other close two-pointers and 60 “distant” two-pointers. The way Cockburn converted around the basket (77 percent on all of his close twos) makes sense that his other shot attempts were limited. He knows where he is most dominant.
The midfielder is in his pocket, however. He proved it against Wisconsin and his coaches and teammates see it in practice. Assistant coach Orlando Antigua even spends part of the day working with Cockburn on his jump shot.
Middle class and threesome.
“When you have something that is really, really dominant and that he’s (67) percent off the field when shooting colors, you want to take advantage of that,” said Underwood. “We work with him on (the sweater) every day. He’s got a great grade. He is feeling well. So we were shocked that he missed the one in Indiana. He never misses that shot. He still has plenty of room to grow. “
How might the rest of the Big Ten feel about this growth?
“Very scared,” said Frazier. “He shoots a lot of jump shots with Coach O every day. He’s a hard worker. There’s a lot, a lot of work involved. It’s not even finished yet. He has a lot of improvements that he will make and when he gets to that level he will be scary. “
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Illinois has a top 15 defense in the country using Ken Pomeroy’s customized metric for defensive efficiency. This is a serious improvement in the Underwood era, as his previous three Illinois teams are 35th, 108th, and 129th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The change came last season when Underwood moved away from its denial-intensive system aimed at forcing sales. Now Illinois keeps the teams off the offensive (15th nationwide in the opponent’s offensive rebound percentage) and lets the teams hit hard (27th in the opponent’s two-point field goal percentage).
The victim was sales. The Illinois ranks 319th nationwide in terms of share of sales, that is, sales divided by possessions. Illinois faced Nebraska on Friday, forcing only 11.7 sales per game.
And Underwood is fine with that sum.
“Could we get out and force more sales? Yes, ”said Underwood. “We were forced (fourth) in the country in sales (in 2017-18). We couldn’t get a rebound and all we did was foul. I will make the compromise we now have for it. Do I want to force another one or two? Yes, but not at the expense of rotations and sacrifices in other areas that we’re really good at. “
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