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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Illinois State Loses to Creighton; Down 0-2 in Conference

After tonight's loss to Creighton, Illinois State is now 9-5 overall and has suffered two straight losses to begin Missouri Valley play. They were very much in their last two games and also came up just short in losses to Northwestern and Louisville. With only a win over Dayton to be proud of, this solid Illinois State team now has their back against the wall and will need to go on a conference tournament run in order to appear in the NCAAs. This a tournament quality team that has the makeup of a Cinderella, but their backs are now against the wall.

In the Missouri Valley, it is all about the team, but this game was attended by a lot of NBA scouts to see Doug McDermott against Jackie Carmichael inside. Neither covered each other as Echenique was in charge of handling Carmichael and Illinois State refused to play McDermott straight up. Carmichael finished with 10 points while McDermott had a quiet 15.

Neither brought their "A" games tonight, but were big parts of keeping their teams in it despite of it. Illinois State opened up the game by consciously leaving facilitator Grant Gibbs open. It turned out to be a mistake as Gibbs was able to hit open jumpers and make smart decisions. After abandoning that look, Illinois State decided to throw a 2-3 zone at Creighton for the rest of the game - another thing Grant Gibbs exploited. Grant Gibbs proved he is no slouch tonight. He is a coach on the floor type, but if you allow him to make decisions, you can bet he will make the right ones. Going up against the zone, Gibbs was the guy who was able to get into the holes of the defense and find teammates cutting to the rim. Illinois State lacked the length on the wings to contest these shots and left Carmichael in hopeless situations. Man to man defense would have been Illinois State's best bet tonight, not a zone that got torched from both inside and outside the arc.

The defensive schemes Illinois State played asked a lot of Carmichael as a rim protector and put him in some bad situations. He picked up 3 fouls - all while Illinois State was in the zone. The fouls weren't the reason Carmichael only played 29 minutes though. I don't quite understand that one. He was taken out of the game 5 times and wasn't given a chance to establish a rhythm. Illinois State's guards jacked up a lot of quick 3s and they didn't slow down to get set plays for Carmichael. It took until the final minute for them to realize that they could have done some damage with their senior power forward in the pick and roll situation. Carmichael is at his best when setting screens or quickly slipping away.

This down game for Carmichael does allow me to talk about some of his negatives though. I've been busy hyping him up and trying to get people to recognize him to criticize parts of his game that need work.

Just by looking at the numbers, his bad assist to turnover ratio jumps out. For a guy who is under control in the post, has good skills, doesn't get pushed around, and plays smart this is a bit surprising. He does a nice job passing too. But Carmichael will occasionally try to force a drive from outside of 15 feet which rarely ends well. He also struggles to get separation in the post which results in getting the ball stripped more than he should. Overall. turnovers happen when you are such a focal point inside.

The lack of separation gets to me though. Its not that he can't create separation - he has good footwork and skills in the post, is quick, and has the body to carve out space. It is just how he chooses to take his shots. On fadeaway type shots, Carmichael doesn't actually fadeaway, instead he turns around and goes straight up. And then on plays where he should be aggressive and not fadeaway, he leans his upperbody in, but keeps his arms out in front of him - rendering his strong frame useless. If Carmichael learned the mechanics of the fadeaway jumper as well as learned the way to properly use his strength when shooting, his offensive game would be more consistent. The way he goes about it now, it looks like he is too conscious of trying to draw contact than to create open looks for himself.

Carmichael is now 9-27 from the field in conference play. Their next game is against Northern Iowa who did a great job being physical with Anthony Bennett earlier this season.

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