Illini Wonk
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
  Illini in the news
The praise continues to be heaped upon this Illini basketball team. We'll start in the home state of Illinois.

Illini Wonk shouldn't even have to link to individual articles of Mark Tupper at the Decatur Herald & Tribune. His column and blog should be a must read for every fan of Illinois basketball. There isn't a sports-writer who knows more about the Illini basketball team than Tupper. In fact, he's probably forgotten more than most of the others know. As usual, yesterday's column offers up some tasty nuggets on the respect that other Big Ten coaches have for Junior Illini guard Dee Brown. Quoted are Steve Alford, Thad Matta and Tom Izzo, the latter who was quoted as saying that he shows tape of Brown to his team "because of how hard he plays." When Tom Izzo says a player plays hard, that means something.

Jeremy Rutherford has more about coach Izzo's film viewing habits here in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. In the Chicago Sun-Times, Jim O'Donnell discusses the NBA and season prospects of the current crop of Illini here and here. Lindsey Willhite writes about the Illini's trapping defense, Brian Randle's status and the Century Celebration for the Daily Herald here. Reid Hanley of the Chicago Tribune writes here that Illinois just might have the right combination to become the fifth team in the last 62 years to make it through the Big Ten basketball season unbeaten. Also in the Trib, Neil Milbert writes about the Illini's preparation for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Steve Batterson of the Quad City Times says the big men could play a big factor for the Illini against Iowa.

Over at, they've picked their Final Four and the Illini are joined by Wake Forest, UNC and Kansas. Jeff Shelman writes the recap on Illinois, which is headlined Illini rolling because they are unselfish. In the article, Shelman discloses that he has voted for the Illini as the number one team every week since they defeated Wake Forest on December 1. In his final analysis, Shelman writes:

Illinois, simply put, is the best team among this season's college hoops fab four because they play like kindergarteners. They share, they laugh and they trust each other. They clearly were in attendance when the teacher talked about playing nice with others. puts the Final Four through ESPN College Hoops 2K5 and has Illinois losing to Kansas by 3 who then goes on to lose to Wake Forest by 14. If you believe it would turn out otherwise, go to and vote. Right now, the Illini are leading the poll. (Bonus Time Saver: while you're there, check out highlights of the Illini victory at Northwestern on ESPN Motion).

Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl says in his mailbag that the Illini will be the team to end Wisconsin's longest in the nation home winning streak next week. Frank Burlison agrees with Wahl's prediction here and says that Luther Head is one of 12 players not on the pre-season list who could win the John R. Wooden Award.

If your eyes are turning orange after all that reading, but you still want more, try the Illini page on to the right and watch the Dee Brown interview with Max Kellerman.
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