Rewind - Anatomy of a Takeover
While I like to believe in the notion that I'm an objective analyst of Illinois basketball, I know I'm kidding myself. I know this because that all goes out the window when we're down six with under three minutes to play to a Nebraska team wearing a 25 game conference losing streak. The fan needs OUT, and as such, analysis has to wait until after. Last Friday night it had to wait until after Ayo Dosunmu put on his cape and dragged his team back even in regulation and then to a win in overtime. There were fan things to do.
When a loss would have ended all number 1 seed talk and sparked embers of doubt in the fragile psyches of Illini fans everywhere, Ayo said not tonight. He scored the final 10 Illinois points in regulation, blocked Nebraska's potential game winning shot as time expired, and was the only Illini player to make a field goal in overtime.
Now, almost a week later (and with yet another chapter written in the Book of Legend last night against Northwestern), we can analyze. In this edition of Rewind, let's deconstruct greatness and take a look back at the anatomy of Ayo's hostile takeover in Lincoln.
Nebraska 58 Illinois 56 - 4:17 left to play in regulation.
Here Trent Frazier starts the action with a "pin down" screen for Kofi Cockburn. This screen frees Kofi to set a ball screen for Ayo without bringing his defender (Derrick Walker) along with him. With Walker unable to help on the ball screen, Ayo's defender (Teddy Allen) is easily taken out of the play by Kofi's screen. Ayo now has plenty of room to maneuver and has Delano Blanton back on his heels. Ayo drives right at him to draw contact and the foul. Ayo actually missed the ensuing free throw here, but he'd only miss one more shot the rest of the way so we'll cut him some slack.
Nebraska 61 Illinois 56 - 3:40 to play in regulation.
In this clip we see Ayo run through through a series screens to get the ball in his hands on the right side of the floor. Trent Frazier then vacates the space after the dribble handoff and Ayo "refuses" the ball screen from Kofi to get his defender's momentum moving left. He crosses over and recognizing that he was going up against length in the 6'9" Lat Mayen, opts for the quick mid range pull up.
Nebraska 64 Illinois 58 - 2:44 left in regulation.
Nothing fancy here - just a simple two man game with Kofi. Kofi rolls after the ball screen to try to pull the help defense away from the rim, but Derrick Walker stays in drop coverage and Ayo ends up drawing a lot of attention on his drive. He might have been fortunate here to get the benefit of the foul call. The play was probably a hook pass back to Frazier at the top of the key, but we're not about to second guess Superman tonight. He knocks down both free throws.
Nebraska 64 Illinois 60 - 2:13 left in regulation.
This time Ayo does find Frazier when the help comes. At the start of the clip watch how the savvy Frazier directs Adam Miller to screen for Ayo to open up that side of the floor. Unfortunately Frazier does not hit the open three.
Nebraska 64 Illinois 60 - 1:44 left in regulation.
Nebraska commits the cardinal sin of failing to keep a safety at the top of the floor which leaves them vulnerable to transition. Adam Miller does a great job of pushing the floor of the defensive rebound and Ayo simply beats the defense to the rim for the layup. A pretty poor effort from both Teddy Allen and Delano Blanton, but regardless, Ayo in the open court is always a thing of beauty.
Nebraska 64 Illinois 62 - 1:04 left in regulation.
This clip highlights a particularly bad defensive switch by Nebraska. After Ayo gets the ball back, they have the opportunity to switch on the ball screen from DMW - which would have put the 6'9" Lat Mayen on Ayo and closed off the right side of the floor. However, Mayen denies the switch and McGowens is a little late getting through. As a result Ayo is able to get downhill with his right hand. I think he had Kofi on a lob as no one is guarding the rim - but we'll never know because Ayo is able draw the foul (maybe a bit of a bailout here) and make both freebies.
Nebraska 66 Illinois 64 - 0:33 left in regulation.
Here we start the action with a couple of slip screens, but this possession is all Ayo as the ball never leaves his hands. Trent slips the first screen so he can act as the safety valve on the pop and Kofi slips to the rim as well. The key to this play, though, is poor positioning from the Nebraska defender. Delano Blanton should have stayed closed on Ayo's right hand to force him left towards the defensive help. Instead he opens his hips, over-commits, and Ayo puts him on skates with a cross over back to his right hand. Kofi seals his man off and the game is tied and headed to OT.
Illinois 66 Nebraska 66 - Start of OT.
This was basically going to be the same play - but Ayo has a good memory. He annihilates Blanton with yet another killer crossover and he's at the rim in a flash.
Illinois 68 Nebraska 66 - 4:14 left in OT.
Same floor alignment again, but on this possession Fred Hoiberg has wisely rethought his defensive matchup - switching Trey McGowens onto Ayo. Ayo probes the floor, but McGowens cuts him off on his initial drive attempt. He resets and coaxes a defensive switch back to his old friend Delano Blanton. Nebraska sends two defenders to jump the screen and get the ball out of Ayo's hands, but it's risky as it leaves McGowens as the lone defender back. When Kofi rolls, McGowens has to decide between Kofi or Trent. He picks Trent, but a poor close out leaves him susceptible to a ball fake. Blanton leaves Ayo to help on Trent and its three for the good guys.
Illinois 73 Nebraska 70 - 0:30 left in OT
Nebraska actually did an admirable job keeping the ball out of Ayo's hands for most of overtime. Ayo did his part by finding Kofi on several occasions, but Kofi only managed a couple of free throws for his efforts. With under a minute left, though, we know where the ball is going. Remember @Michigan last season? Same set up. 1 high - 4 low. Spread the floor and get out of Ayo's way. Kofi doesn't do him any favors here by bringing his defender up the floor, but a quick decoy drive gets that help retreating and then it's closing time. As usual, this will end well for Illinois.