Illini Wonk
Thursday, March 17, 2005
  Illini Win NCAA Tournament opener
The Illini opened the NCAA Tournament with a 67-55 win over No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson. The players of the game for Illinois were Dee Brown with 19 points and James Augustine with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Augustine's rebounds were especially big because they were half of his team's total as the Illini were outrebounded 42-30.

But the win didn't come as easily as expected. According to Jim Paul of the Associated Press, Fairleigh Dickinson made No. 1 Illinois work. At the Peoria Journal-Star, sports editor Bill Liesse said the game started to remind him of two decades of Illini NCAA chokes. CBS Sportsline has highlights of the game under the headline Illini struggle past FDU. At, their video of postgame press conference with Coach Bruce Weber and Dee Brown is titled Illini a little troubled.

Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune says the Illini were rescued from a poor outing with a second-half performance that was vintage Brown. In his column, Mark Tupper says Brown gets the credit for side-stepping catastrophe and on his blog he chronicles Illinois' shooting woes.

In postgame conversations with the media, Illinois' opponent had a disagreement over just how fast Dee Brown really is. Despite running past their entire team on a couple of occasions, Fairleigh Dickinson's Mensah Peterson said of Brown: He's very quick but not as quick as everybody says. FDU head coach Tom Green said He's a jet. He's about as fast as anyone I've ever seen on a basketball court.

Mike Nadel of the Journal-Star gives the frustrating season story of medical red-shirt sophomore Brian Randle here. As the Illini were being out-rebounded last night, Illini Wonk bets Bruce Weber wishes he could have told Randle to pull off his warm-up and get in the game.
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