Guys are away from home, their families
and friends for months at a time, and it can be a good time for them
to go home and experience a time of refreshing. It can be bad
because grandma, the next-door neighbor, and every Tom, Dick and
Harry wants to know why you're not getting more playing time, why
you don't get more shots in the offense, and why your picture is not
on every program. Multiply that by playing in one of the least
prestigious holiday tournaments. And that goes up exponentially when
you find out you're playing Longwood, a team you've probably never
heard of. Believe me when I say that it is very hard to get players
up for a game they know they should win in a blowout.
With all that as a backdrop, the astute
basketball student knew exactly what to expect on Monday night at
the Assembly Hall. Though Illinois' fire and intensity on defense
was not showcased in this contest, the Illini unveiled enough
showtime plays to fill up a highlight reel. Some have commented that
they haven't done that (razzle-dazzle plays) this year and that it's
not needed. I beg to differ. I like to see the kids having fun.
Basketball's a lot of work, and when they can have some fun WITHIN
the scope of the offense... Let's just say I'm all for it. For
another thing, I am among the few who argue that it is impossible to
bring that A-level defensive intensity every night. I'd much rather
see them get by Northwestern State and THEN put on a defensive show
against Cincy's Bearcats... but, that's just me.
So, the Illini took care of business
once again, 105-79, in a game that never was in doubt. Coach Weber
was asked by a reporter after the game if he was the angriest 12-0
coach in the country. Weber's response: "Is anybody else 12-0?" I
like that response... He is a little feisty himself, and I think
that bodes well for the Illini.
I like the way the Illini involved
the "bigs" last night. James Augustine led the "bigs" with 16
points, followed by Roger Powell with 13, Nick Smith with nine and
Jack Ingram with eight. Augie also picked up nine rebounds, while
Ingram tallied five and Smith four. The big men off the bench,
notably Ingram and Smith -- and I'm STILL thinking that Warren
Carter will come up big -- will be a big factor in helping to keep
the Illini on top.
Another sold-out Assembly Hall crowd
was on hand to help the Illini to their 12th win of the season. But
this crowd was different. Most of them stayed until the final horn.
That is because most of the people were sitting in someone else's
seats, as this is typically a game that season ticket holders give
up as Christmas presents or give away, just knowing they'll be gone
for the holidays. I'm glad the Illini made several nice plays for
the people who will get to see only that game in person this season.
[to top of second column in
Redbirds back in action
The ISU Redbirds will be back in
action Thursday night at home versus the Bears of SMSU. No word as
to whether Lincoln's Gregg Alexander will be back in the lineup yet
or not. Tip is 7:05 for the contest.
Lincoln Railers advance in Holiday Classic
The tourney advises gave Lincoln a
nice holiday treat by giving them a much tougher draw than
advertised. Like usual, however, the Railers responded nicely by
delivering a 57-50 victory over Eastern of Louisville, Ky. The
Railers advance to take on Tinley Park, which nipped Chicago St.
Rita by only two points. A report we received last night said that
the game was scheduled for the Shirk Center today at 4:30.
Manning sets record, Colts make mega-comeback
Peyton Manning set the NFL record
for most touchdowns in a season in a most prolific way -- on a
game-tying touchdown pass. Actually they also needed the 2-point
conversion to force overtime. And if you give Manning the ball first
in overtime, you might as well forget it. And that's exactly what
The Bears, on the other hand, seemed
to be robbed by a funky call. I'm not the biggest Bears fan in the
universe, but that play sure looked like a touchdown to me. I'm not
an NFL official, but when a guy comes down with possession and two
feet inbounds, I was always taught that that's a touchdown.
As to all the fans upset that coach
Smith did not get upset... too much ado about nothing. He's probably
winning over even more respect from the men in stripes, and when he
develops a playoff-caliber team, THAT's when he'll need those calls
to go his way.
It did make me wonder... Do other
teams get as many questionable calls as the Bears do? And does it
all REALLY even out over time? I don't know... I'm just asking...
Year's resolutions as of yet...
I probably should have several of
them, but I'm too busy putting toys together...
That's it for me... Happy New Year,