Illinois State 2010 NIT Tournament Preview
Illinois State Redbirds - Missouri Valley Conference (22-10, 11-7)
Seed: #6 - Illinois Bracket
Big Wins: 12/29 Wichita State (72-57), 2/17 Missouri State (76-72), 3/5 vs Indiana State (69-65)
Bad Losses: 12/13 Niagara (68-76), 1/17 at Drake (59-69), 1/23 at Southern Illinois (80-81)
Coach: Tim Jankovich
Probable Illinois State Starters:
Lloyd Phillips, Senior, Guard, 10.3 ppg, 4.1 apg
Alex Rubin, Junior, Guard, 5.0 ppg, 2.1 apg
Osiris Eldridge, Senior, Guard, 15.7 ppg, 2.5 apg, 4.0 rpg
Jackie Carmichael, Freshman, Forward, 6.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Dinma Odiakosa, Senior, Forward, 12.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg
Key Illinois State Roleplayers:
Austin Hill, Junior, Guard, 6.7 ppg, 1.3 apg
Tony Lewis, Junior, Forward, 6.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Kellen Thornton, Sophomore, Forward, 3.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Why The Redbirds Can Surprise:
Once Osiris Eldridge announced he was returning to Illinois State for one more season, the expectations for the Redbirds have been quite high. However, it is not the backcourt that has turned ISU into a dangerous team; it is the emergence of the frontcourt. Most notable is Dinma Odiakosa. The 6-8 senior has always been a solid rebounder and a great defender, but he is now turning into a consistent scorer under the basket as well. And when Odiakosa is a threat to score in the paint, it opens up a lot of space for Eldridge and the rest of the backcourt.
But Odiakosa is not the sole reason for the team’s success on the glass. Tony Lewis and Jackie Carmichael have split starts at the power forward position. Carmichael is just a freshman, but he has had some great games. He will use his 6-9, 240 pound frame to make room for himself in the paint and has become a pretty good scorer, albeit inconsistent. More importantly, Carmichael is a decent rebounder and the team’s most effective shot blocker. Lewis is more efficient on the glass, but lacks the size of Carmichael. Kellen Thornton will not play too many minutes, but he has been an effective scorer and rebounder when given the opportunity.
Why The Redbirds Can Disappoint:
While the backcourt does a great job of sharing the ball and keeping the turnovers down, there can be some shooting problems. Eldridge is the most prolific outside shooter of the bunch, but he has been streaky. Fellow starter Lloyd Phillips can get a little long ball happy at times. Phillips does a great job attacking the basket for a 5-10 point guard and averages double-digit scoring, but he has a tendency to force some shots. It is nice that the point guard can keep the defense honest with some outside shooting, but Phillips has already proven that he at least needs to be guarded on the perimeter. The other option is Alex Rubin. Rubin is the most consistent shooter of the bunch, but takes fewer shots than Eldridge and Phillips and only averages 5.0 points per game.
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Who To Watch for Illinois State:
Eldridge is the unquestioned leader of this team. His shooting may be inconsistent at times, but he can always use his 6-3 frame and attack the basket…which he does extremely well. Eldridge has had some bad games during his senior campaign and, not surprisingly, Illinois State has lost a lot of those games. This group will go as far as Eldridge can take them and he could take them a long way.
Illinois State By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.0 (147th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.1 (69, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.0 (91, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.2 (118, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.9 (200, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.0 (207, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.6 (116, 9)
Rebound Margin: 4.7 (39, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.1 (161, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 0.4 (161, 6)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Dayton