The Hall was fuller than it
normally is for a scrimmage!
If you thought tickets were
hard to come by in the past, the lines at the ticket windows suggest
that if Illinois wins a few games, Illini hoops might be a tough
You can't believe the diversity
of ages gathered for the Orange-Blue contest, from newborns to those
close to their reward.
We STILL don't "get it" like
Kansas, Memphis, Arkansas, Duke, Kentucky and UCLA do!
IF Deron Williams plays like he
did Saturday, the Illini could be a force. He dominated the action
on both sides of the floor.
Dee Brown wasn't hitting his
shots, but you know he will.
James Augustine was his typical
Luther Head FINALLY looks like
he's healthy, and his quickness put a smile on my face.
Roger Powell is still athletic
as ever and could emerge this season.
We can't help but root wildly
for Nick Smith. He wants to play about every minute and is so hard
on himself. He is his own worst critic.
Jack Ingram showed why he's
been the most talked-about player in camp so far.
Aaron Spears has bulked up, but
his lack of foot quickness concerns us.
Jerrance Howard is a good
senior to provide leadership for this ballclub.
Brian Randle led the freshmen
contingent. His athleticism and his cool, calm demeanor could make
him a huge factor.
Warren Carter also proved that
he belongs on this roster. He can do lots of things that will get
Richard McBride was not
uncomfortable on the floor either -- just didn't get a chance to
show all the things that he can do.
We probably haven't mentioned
everyone, but you get the picture.
Team gleanings would go
something like this:
- Team defense looks good
at this point.
- Lots of good footwork in
not allowing any easy buckets.
- Very active hands in the
passing lanes, forcing lots of ball reversals.
- Relentless wave of
players attacking the glass for rebounds.
- Surprisingly good
chemistry at this point.
You will really like the speed
at which the Illini are now playing. They can pressure all over the
court and bring waves at you. They will be fun to watch.
We realize that this team has
not even played a game yet, but these are some of the concerns
heading into the season:
Defense looks good so far, but
will it be physical enough to do battle in the Big Ten's circle of
And will the rebounding be
there to limit opponents to one shot per possession while at the
same time giving us some offensive boards to give us even more
chances while we're learning the motion offense?
Will our perimeter shooting be
good enough to bring the defense to the arc, enabling us even more
spacing to run the motion? We hope we don't miss Cook and Harrington
more than we think we will!
Free-throw shooting with this
team will be as important a factor as it has ever been for the
Illini. Self liked to use the Tarkanian method and just get up on an
opponent and put them away. Learning the very difficult new offense
could lead to a lot of tighter games, especially early. Knocking
down those charity shots, especially in the last six to eight
minutes of a ballgame, may determine how good this edition of the
Illini can be.
[to top of second column in this
We talked about the good
chemistry so far, but with so many good players out there, will
there be enough basketballs to go around? Think anyone would
volunteer to redshirt?
There are things about the
motion offense that we love. We especially love scoring in early
offense or on primary or secondary breaks. However, the motion
offense is difficult to learn and can be very frustrating at times.
We're hoping that our guys really gel with it and it opens up things
we've only dreamed about.
All in all, this opening
scrimmage was as good as we've felt at this point in the proceedings
in a long time. And with the loss of Self, Cook and Harrington, just
to name three, we're feeling a lot better about things than we ever
On the ISU front, Gregg
Alexander popped in 14 points in the annual Red-White game Thursday
at Redbird Arena. The annual opening screen test saw Alexander
setting the pace for the Red team along with teammates Matt Miller,
Kevin Troc, Najeeb Echols, Greg Dilligard, Dana Ford, Ronnie
Carlwell and Kyle Flowers; while senior Vince Greene led the White
team, comprised of Neil Plank, Marcus Arnold, Trey Guidry, Chris
Burras, Kenneth Hill, Michael Sams and recent walk-on Micah
The scrimmage gave first-year
head coach Porter Moser opportunity to see how his Birds will react
to gamelike conditions.
The Lincoln College hoops units
also got under way this past weekend. The men lost a couple of close
ones and the women got a W.
Lincoln Christian College teams
will get started this coming weekend, with the men traveling to
Cincinnati and the women on the road in Florida. Why didn't we ever
think of that?
CONGRATULATIONS to the Lady
Railer volleyball team on another outstanding season!
Also, congrats to the Hartem
and to the Mount Pulaski ladies who won their regionals and advance
to sectional play on Tuesday!
Speaking of volleyball, don't
forget that the Angels of Lincoln Christian College will be hosting
the national tournament here in beautiful Lincoln, Ill.! That's
right. The National Christian College Athletic Association's
national elite eight (actually 10) come to Lincoln on Wednesday.
Games will run most of the afternoon and evenings on Thursday,
Friday and Saturday.
This is a great family
opportunity and a chance to see some great volleyball to boot! Call
732-3168 and ask for the Laughlin Center to get game tickets or a
full-session pass. How many times does a national tourney come to
"FANdamonium" returns tonight
at 6. We're guessing that Greg Taylor will have a lot to say about
the Bears' win over San Diego. He'll also want to check in on his
early Illini projections. This edition will be packed with the stuff
you like to talk about, so we'll see you tonight!
That's it for us. Enjoy this weather, and have a great week,