But give Wisconsin credit, they earned
it. They shot better than Illinois did, hit their free throws and
played smothering, stifling defense.
Illinois on the other hand, was out of
sync, looked a step slow to the ball all day and never seemed to
muster any attack or rally. Had it not been for Dee Brown throwing
in rainbows from the hash marks, it might have been a lot uglier
than the 70-53 final score.
But as many fans rush to the exits,
dive off the bandwagon or out of a building, I would say it was just
a hiccup. A huge hiccup, I'll grant you… but nothing more and
Why do I say that? Didn't the vaunted
Duke Blue Devils lose yesterday as well? And didn't Kansas and Texas
go down too? I thought I read that Pittsburg lost this weekend
somewhere out East. What I'm trying to say is that you are allowed
some flexibility when playing three or four games over a short or a
I think that the Illini will regroup
and be ready for their NCAA opener. After that, anything that
happens is all gravy. Some fans like to get caught up in
bracketology. And they can make a case for Illinois winning every
game and winning the national championship. While I'd love that to
happen, I've never been one that likes to get that far ahead of
myself. I REALLY like playing them one game at a time. Focus on the
game at hand and take care of business.
Should the Illini take that workmanlike
attitude with them to Columbus, Ohio, I think it will serve them
well. All is not lost. The Illini are alive for at least one more
day, and didn't something good happen the last time we visited
Columbus? That's right. We won our first outright Big Ten title in
52 years. Let's go back expecting more good results… Seconds,
The Illini were able to run away from
NIT-bound Michigan. The 74-60 margin of victory was Illinois' ninth
straight triumph over the Wolverines (I wonder if Bo Schembechler
STILL wants Illinois). James Augustine had a great game at a time it
was really needed, going for 15 points and rebounds, and Dee Brown
continued his inspired play of late as he torched the nets for 21
points. Luther Head joined his teammates in double figures with 12
tallies. Daniel Horton led Michigan with 16 points.
[to top of second column in this
Coach Amaker: "Congratulations to
Illinois. Coming into the game we recognized how tough they are as a
basketball team. Certainly we ran into that. Their perimeter play is
outstanding. We think Illinois is one of the better teams in the
nation. They have to be one of the hottest teams. We certainly
anticipate they will do very well in the postseason… They won the
regular season outright. I think when you do those things you're a
pretty darned good basketball team."
Illinois' 12-game winning streak was
the longest since the Flying Illini of 1988-89 reeled off 17 in a
row to start their magic season.
It was also the longest current winning
streak of any team in any major conference.
Jack Ingram continued his stellar
production throughout the weekend, and it has been going on now for
the last month. Not bad for a walk-on, huh? Not only that, he's
a great kid. I've really enjoyed talking to him and getting his
prospective on our post play. I think I would have given him the
game ball for his play at critical times in the win over Michigan --
six points, five rebounds, no turnovers in only 14 minutes of
I spoke with Michigan assistants and
SID people, and they have no idea how Lester Abram hurt his
shoulder. He did not play in Illinois' win, and that was a huge
factor in the victory.
I spoke to Roger Powell prior to
Sunday's contest and he pronounced himself fine and ready to go, but
clearly he was not 100 percent.
Dee Brown and Deron Williams made the
all-tournament team, but a case could have been made for Luther Head
drew a No. 5 seed and will play No. 12 Murray State Friday in
Columbus, Ohio, most likely around lunch time.