CHAMPAIGN -- Moments after Friday night’s victory over DePaul, Illini coach Brad Underwood swore he hasn’t peeked ahead to tonight’s opponent, Marshall.
But coaches are not oblivious to the buzz and when it comes to Marshall, the buzz is all about guard Jon Elmore and the accelerated pace of coach Dan D’Antoni’s high-scoring offense.
Playing its fourth straight home game, Illinois will get a load of both Sunday at the State Farm Center.
Marshall comes in averaging 89.3 points per game with an offense that is straight from the family tree of the 70-year-old D’Antoni and his younger brother, Houston Rockets’ NBA head coach Mike D’Antoni.
“I really don’t look ahead,” Underwood said when asked to provide a scouting report on Marshall. “But I know they have a great, great guard. They spray it around. They’re an elite passing team and they will press full-court for 40 minutes.
“We’d better guard the 3-point line and you’ll see one of the best guards in the country.”
Elmore is averaging 28.3 points through three games and his offensive skills are not a surprise. He led Conference USA in scoring last season (19.7 ppg) and put his name in the NBA Draft in order to get feedback. That Elmore withdrew his name was a great relief for Marshall, which has launched an average of 28 3-pointers a game thus far.
Underwood said he’s hoping for a continued gradual progression as his young roster adapts to his new system. He got that Friday in the victory over DePaul when freshman Mark Smith led the way with 21 points.