During the month of August, Illini Inquirer basketball analyst Sean Harrington is giving a scouting report on each Illinois basketball returner. Check out his earlier reports:
- Malcolm Hill, junior wing
- Kendrick Nunn, junior guard
- Jaylon Tate., junior point guard
- Leron Black, sophomore forward
Michael Finke scouting report
Last Season in Review
There is no game footage of Michael Finke from last season to break down, but it still was a very important year for him. A redshirt season is very significant for a player's development and improving his strength and skills. Wisconsin does a fantastic job developing players during redshirt seasons. Coincidentally, Badgers coach Bo Ryan heavily recruited Finke. Kelly Olynyk of Gonzaga had one of the best improvements after a redshirt year -- maybe ever. Finke won the most improved player award from his coaches and teammates, so it clearly shows that the sit-out season was a successful one. Finke has the ability to step out and shoot, catch off the block and face up. His ability to pass the ball also is very impressive.
Outside of Jaylon Tate (replacing Tracy Abrams), the European trip might have been most important for Finke. After not playing for a year, the trip gave him some confidence, game action and an opportunity to play with his teammates in meaningful situations. Finke needs to continue to put on weight (he's up to 235 pounds) and strength. This will help him score around the rim and battle on the boards. Finke has a very effective outside shot. Getting up plenty of shots to continue to improve his shooting will help him pull the big defender away from the basket and make him a tough matchup for an opposing big. Finke is a great passer. To make that skill even more useful, Finke needs to work on his scoring ability near the block. This will create double teams, opening up teammates for scoring opportunities.
Finke will be an exciting player to watch in the early going. His offensive game should fit in well with the system and team. He will give the Illini a good scoring option from the four (his natural position) and the five (where he practiced last season). He is effective at scoring away from the rim and should give him some success early. Scoring in traffic around the rim and on the defensive end are the two areas where he may struggle, especially during Big Ten play. If he can adjust to those two areas he will be a very valuable player for the Illini.
Sean Harrington is the IlliniInquirer.com basketball analyst and also serves as a ESPN college basketball color analyst. Harrington played on four straight NCAA Tournament teams at Illinois (1999-2002) and two Big Ten championship teams (2001, 2002). He also worked on staffs for coaches Rick Majerus, Bill Self, Rob Judsonand Bruce Weber. Follow him on Twitter: @smharrington24.