Illini Wonk
Saturday, April 09, 2005
  Illinois' most excellent adventure
By now you obviously know that the 100th season of the Illinois Fighting Illini was their best. They won their first 29 and finished the season tying the NCAA record with 37 wins. They were the first Illinois team to make it to the championship game. Oh yeah, and they also won the Big Ten regular season title for the second straight year and won the conference post-season tournament.

Illini Wonk recapped the season prior to the Final Four here and added a few more thoughts in subsequent posts. I found myself thinking today that this team was two three-pointers away from perfection and a place in history. If Matt Sylvester misses his in the closing seconds in Columbus and Deron Williams (or Luther Head) makes one in the last minute of the final...oh well, it was a great season none-the-less.

A look back at the season seems the thing to do among the pundits as well. Here are just a few:

John "Brumby" Brumbaugh said this season will live forever in the annals of Illinois Basketball history.

According to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, they're better even than that pesky 1989 Final Four Illinois team.

The 2004-05 Illini provided an experience unlike any other to Bill Liesse of the Peoria Star-Journal.

In the Philadelphia Daily News, Dick Jerardi said there is no question that Illinois had a championship-level season. In fact, it was one of the great seasons in memory.

CBS SportsLine senior writer Gregg Doyel said that the 2004-05 Illini were one of the most impressive teams ever to play college basketball.

Of their joyful season, Phil Arvia wrote: Don't dismiss all that joy over one loss. Don't diminish the beautiful basketball Illinois played this season over this one scuff.

Also in the Sun-Times, Jay Marriotti says if any second-place team deserves a place in lore, it's the Illini.

Mike Nadel of the Journal-Star believes the Fighting Illini deserve to be remembered for the thrills they provided, for the old-school unselfishness they exhibited and for the relentlessness they displayed.

That's all I could find for now. I'm going to finish watching the Illinois/Arizona game before I go to sleep. That's the part of the season I really want to remember.
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