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Illinois Basketball Player Preview: Michael Finke

The Champaign native will thrive in the new spread offense.

NCAA Basketball: NIT Season Tip-Off-Illinois vs West Virginia Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

What He Did Last Year:

Michael Finke is a redshirt junior who averaged 6.9 points per game in his sophomore campaign on 48 percent shooting and 43 percent from three-point range. He also averaged 4 boards and 0.7 assists per game. Finke only started 8 games, as he often played a supporting frontcourt role to Maverick Morgan and Leron Black.

How Does He Fit into Underwood's System:

Finke may see more success in Underwood's new offensive system than any other player on the roster. It’s well known Underwood likes to play up-tempo, but his halfcourt spread offense is where Finke should thrive.

The 5 in Underwood's offense is a very involved cog. He is typically setting screens, receiving an entry pass, looking for cutters and making shots. Finke has great guard skills ay 6-foot-10, so look for Underwood to get him the ball right at the free-throw line and let Finke make plays for himself and others when the Illini set up in the halfcourt.

There are plenty of videos where you can see how involved the 5 is in Underwood's spread offense, but I think this one shows how valuable Finke's shooting will be.

What to Expect This Year:

Barring injury, Michael Finke should be the Illini's starting center for the entirety of the 2017-18 season. Without a true rim runner, defender and elite athlete ready for heavy minutes at the center position on the current roster, I would expect Finke to see heavy minutes at the 5 this season. Finke should flourish offensively and see a big spike in his offensive statistics and efficiency.

I could see him jumping to 12-14 points per game and possibly flirting with 3 assists as he should be finding cutters for easy baskets. The biggest question mark with Finke will be his defense and rebounding. Leron Black will be the leader on the glass, but Finke is going to need to step up and be a big factor on the boards.

With a projected big man rotation of Finke, Black, Nichols (a wing disguising as a big), and true freshman Greg Eboigboden, post defense will likely be a challenge for the Illini this season. Hopefully, additional experience for Black and Finke along with some longer wings and guards will be enough to hold B1G opponents at bay.