Illini Wonk
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
  Illini are "Three D"
By now, the three guards that power the Fighting Illini basketball team are no secret. The tightly-knit trio forms the best backcourt in the nation and the accolades are piling up. All three were included on the 2005 NABC All-District Team, which makes them eligible for the NABC Division I All-American Team to be announced at the conclusion of the season. The Illini were the only team with three players on any of the 15 district first squads.

In the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Rick Alonzo says Illini's three guards each award-worthy.

Brian Bennett of the Louisville Courier-Journal includes all three on his player of the year watch list, but says they're in danger of canceling each other out.

Frank Burlison of the Long Beach Press-Telegram has the "Illinois Big Three" are among his 15 nominations of the players who should be on the final ballot for the John R. Wooden Award.

In his tip sheet, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jeff Gordon wonders: Will the Illini ever see a three-guard group this great again? Will the Big Ten?

But we're Americans. We can't settle for a three-way tie. Who's the best? The latest article from Tupper is revealing, not by what the players say, but by what they do. When asked who will be Big Ten player of the year, Dee Brown said: "It should be a co-Player of the Year," Brown said. "I'd give it to Deron and Luther." Williams said it should go to either Brown or Head. "It's tough. Both of those guys deserve it the way they've been playing. Luther has been playing great all year. Dee lately has been playing out of this world. It should go to one of them."

Are these guys for real? But the most revealing tidbit from Tupper is this: When the Illini players choose squads for pick-up games, Williams is always the first player taken. Always.

Lindsey Willhite dicusses their practice routine in the Daily Herald (hint: they have a slightly different than take on practice from that of Allen Iverson).

UDPATE: In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jeremy Rutherford writes: The Big Ten Conference MVP has come down to a three-player race and all three wear Illinois jerseys.
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