Illini Wonk
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
  And then there was one
With Illinois' win at Michigan and Boston College's loss at Notre Dame, the Fighting Illini are now the only undefeated team in college basketball. The sheer amount of coverage is overwhelming so Illini Wonk will bring you a slice of it.

First, following last night's game there has been a lot of praise for the second half performance of Dee Brown. Nathan Fenno of the Ann Arbor News wrote that Tuesday night against Michigan, Brown was simply the difference. Dick Vitale praised Dee during the North Carolina/Duke game and in his column.

Jay Mariotti (who has recently earned the ire of Illinois fans and players for predicting them to lose on ESPN's Around the Horn) writes here in the Chicago Sun-Times: Yet one charming characteristic keeps shining through the muck of sloppy Illinois performances: Someone always bails out the cause. This time, as the maize-covered fans bobbed and Brent Musburger teased an upset on national television, it was Brown. We'll remember this performance not only for his trio of steals, but for a key three-pointer and a spectacular, behind-the-back pass to James Augustine that excited a throng of Illini fans who had been quiet for most of the evening. When Deron Williams couldn't hit a jumper, Roger Powell's offense disappeared and the bench was nonexistent, we saw a hoops version of the UPS commercial: What Brown can do for you.

According to Mark Tupper in the Decatur Herald-Tribune, Brown took matters into his own hands. In a similar vein to the prior post from Illini Wonk, Tupper wrote: After getting few inside touches in the first half, Illinois turned that around in the second half. Of Illinois' final 22 points scored in the game, there were four layups, four dunks and six free throws. And not a single jump shot.

Dee, however is not the only star on the team, as he is joined by Luther Head and Deron Williams on the mid-season candidates for the Naismith Trophy. North Carolina is the only other team with three players on the list.

Speaking of North Carolina, Bruce Weber was interviewed on ESPN during the half-time show of the North Carolina/Duke game. During the interview, Weber was asked by Steve Lavin how the Illini would match up with the Tar Heels. Weber was very diplomatic and said he would love to have the match-up because it would likely come in St. Louis.

Speaking of Coach Weber, in the Pantagraph, Jim Benson notes that in less than two years, Weber has won in every Big Ten Conference building.

Not to be left out of all this year's Illini coverage, the Orange Krush are profiled here in SI On Campus. In the article Maggie Haskins says that the Orange Krush is the No. 1 student section in the country (sorry, Cameron Crazies) for the No. 1 team in the country (sorry, Duke). Haskins also notes that the Illini are 75-3 in Assembly Hall over the past six years, during which time the Orange Krush has raised more than $600,000 for 20 charities.

For those of you who are tired of reading about the Illini, College Sports TV will go Behind the Scenes at Illinois on Friday, March 25.
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