Illini Wonk
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
  They're so Good, they Outta be in Pictures
Whil the Illini are dominating the small screen with their on-the-court performances (and CSTV set to go Behind the Scenes at Illinois), Illini Wonk insists that the Illini are so good, they outta be in pictures. What follows is a movie-title look at the week in Illini basketball news.

Ocean's Eleven

The Illini are spending their 11th consecutive week atop the Associated Press Poll, the third consecutive week as a unanimous selection. The Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph headline reads Illini's reign hits 11.

Kentucky Fried Illini

A Louisville fan who writes for the Courier-Journal attended the Wisconsin game in Champaign and pays tribute to the atmosphere in Assembly Hall here. He closes his column with this: As a now more-distant Illini fan, I kept wishing all those around me could better enjoy the moment, the undefeated season, this living history. But success has only increased the worry and expectations. It's all been so perfect up to now. Where does life go from there?

Roger & Me

In a difficult search for imperfections with this team, the media has settled on the senior slump that Roger Powell, Jr. has found himself in the midst of for the past weeks. In the last four games, Powell is averaging 6.5 points, which is less than half his average, and 4.5 rebounds. Through the first 11 games of conference play, he has yet to record a single assist on one of the best teams in the nation in that category. There's more on Powell's lack of production from Mark Tupper, Herb Gould, Marlen Garcia and Jeremy Rutherford.

Dazed and Confused

Carol Slezak types a column titled Tough to grade Illini without a test in the Chicago Sun-Times today that is just inexcusably poor for an in-state sports-writer. She repeats the tired refrain: [Weber's] team is undefeated, but it plays in the Big Ten, which is so weak this season that Illinois could run the table playing four against five. The column goes downhill from there, taking numerous pot-shots at the Big Ten, falling all over herself to praise the ACC and dismissing the Illinois win over Wake Forest as occurred a lifetime ago.

The major problem with Ms. Slezak's hypothesis (that being that Illinois is untested) is that of all the ranked teams, no team has played (or beaten) more games against the current top 25 than the Illini (6). As for the "Big Ten Conference hurting their post-season chances" argument, Illini Wonk dismantled that in this post.

Bo Knows Illinois

Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan has figured out why Illinois ended his team's 38-game home winning streak and then beat them in Champaign: the Illini are better.
Wonk, C. Slezak seems to have an anti-Illini agenda as well as poor journalism skills. The less attention you pay to people like her, Mariotti, Doxie, Morrisey and Imrem, the better off you are. They aren't really columnists: their goal is to generate letters to the editor, not to provoke "thought".
I get the feeling that none of these people are watching any of the games including the other non-Illini games as most of us have.

We know of the problems in the BT this year but I'm sick of hearing how weak it is and how untested the Illini are after watching the Michigan game. It's what happens on the floor and THAT WAS A TEST!

I'm glad the Illini don't have to play at Minnesota and when I look at the OSU game on the schedule, if the Illini didn't want to be tested they would be better off playing on the road at the bottom 6 teams in the ACC.

The Illini have been tested and they have passed even on nights they've not played well. The same kind of tests as Kansas faced at Texas Tech. The same kind of tests as Kentucky at South Carolina. The same kind of tests as Duke against Maryland both times. The same kinds of tests as North Carolina at Wake Forest and Duke.

The glaring difference is that when those other teams are challenged, they have failed those tests.

Don't tell me how weak the Big Ten is when North Carolina hosts Virginia and Clemson this week or when in mid-February that Kansas has faced only two teams in the upper half of talent in their own conference losing one.

In the top 15 or so in the nation, I find it significant that Illinois and Wake Forest have played significantly more games against ranked teams at gametime than any of the others. All others have numbers in their loss column.

I'm not one who cares about the perception of disrespect and I am not one who gets upset that someone states the obvious that the Illini could lose. I simply am irritated that all of these writers and analysts aren't watching college basketball this year and are holding down jobs just looking at box scores and scouting reports.
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