Illini Wonk
Friday, February 11, 2005
  The Buzz Grows
An earlier post from Illini Wonk has chronicled The Buzz on the Illini and regular posts (e.g. here, here and here) have tracked the overwhelming press coverage of Illinois Basketball during their historic season.

On Tuesday, the last semi-competitor for the Illini's buzz fell away as Boston College lost to Notre Dame. Now, the buzz on the Illini has risen to a roar. Associated Press sports-writer Jim Paul wrote a flattering profile of Coach Bruce Weber (could there be any other kind after his track record) that made the Most Viewed Sports stories on Yahoo! News and turned up in 77 places on a Google News Search.

In-state coverage has been overwhelming for months, but much of it is still well worth reading. Chicago Sun-Times sports-writer Herb Gould asks the question Exactly how does a program go through three coaching changes in eight years and achieve more under each new coach without missing a beat? He answers the question by chronicling those eight years here.

Copley News Service sports-writer Mike Nadel gives us a look at the mail he received about Illinois basketball here in the Sauk Valley Daily Gazette. In further confirmation of the Illini buzz, he writes not surprisingly, the nation's hottest college hoops team has been the hottest topic this winter in Mike's Mailbag. There's some about the lack of exuberance among Illini fans, Charlie Villanueva, their post-season prospects and Weber as a recruiter.

In more local coverage, there are two profiles of Illini big men. Lindsey Willhite on James Augustine and Steve Batterson on Jack Ingram. In the Chicago Tribune, Marlen Garcia has a must-read about Illinois' motion offense and a companion piece on their defense.

While the national sports media may not have been there since the beginning (or at least since consecutive wins in one week over Gonzaga and Wake Forest), they have certainly been around as of late. According to Yahoo! Sports National Columnist Dan Wetzel, it's Perfection or bust for the Illini. In his mailbag, SI columnist Grant Wahl writes: Dee Brown's three consecutive steals against Michigan on Tuesday may have been the single most impressive short-term feat by a player that I've seen this season. William Geoghegan of SportsCentral says here that things will be sorted out come March.

But now, sports-writers around the country are filing their stories. Joe Gergen gives readers of New York Newsday a look at the Illini here. Jack Wilkinson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution weighs in here. The Los Angeles Times sent a reporter to Champaign to file this report. Even the Gray Lady herself got in on the act with a profile of Bruce Weber here.

Add another sports-writer to the list who think the Ilini will finish the season undefeated. Jake Curtis of the (just outside Big Ten territory) San Fransisco Chronicle profiles the undefeated and the winless.
Very good. This may be your best post yet wonk. Thanks.
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