Illini Wonk
Saturday, March 12, 2005
  How will Bruce Weber's Illini Respond?
Throughout this magical season, Bruce Weber has been the backbone of this team. The teacher and master motivator has guided this team to a 30-1 record (the second 30-win season in Illinois' 100 year history), a second straight outright Big Ten title (the first Big Ten coach to ever do that in their first two seasons) and 14 straight weeks ranked atop the AP poll.

In a statement, Bruce Weber made it clear that he will be on the Illinois sideline today when they face the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Everyone is saying they're not surprised. The bigger question is: how does the team respond?

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti has a guess and believes the Illini will be playing with added purpose. Mariotti's column includes quotes from Illinois basketball players, some encouraging: ''We're going to help him get through this,'' James Augustine said. ''He's our coach, and we've got to go out and play and win for him." Others not so encouraging: ''His mother? Man,'' said Dee Brown, visibly shaken. ''If it was my mother, I don't know what I'd do. I'll be saying my prayers.''

More details on the unfortunate events of yesterday come from Herb Gould and Shamus Toomey in today's Sun-Times, Jim Benson in the Pantagraph and Jeremy Rutherford in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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