Beefing up the Illini front line
While watching Illini Madness a few weeks ago
, I noticed that Illinois is likely to have a different look on the basketball court this year (how's that for a news flash?). One of the biggest diferences could be in the amount of size the Illini have at their disposal. Charles Jackson and Shaun Pruitt
looked like they're ready to throw their weight around.
On his blog, Mark Tupper said that if there’s one player causing an early buzz, it’s Shaun Pruitt
. Brett Dawson blogs that Pruitt has a slight edge for the remaining starting spot
. If he makes a significant contribution this year, that will suprise more than just Tupper. It could also lead to a lot of disappointment over his decision not to redshirt last season.
In another more recent post, Tupper says that Augie still isn't 100 percent
, which is a concern. Pruitt and Jackson might be big, but they would not be able to make up for Augustine, last season's Big Ten Tournament MVP. It is not a stretch to say that Illinois' success this year depends on a healthy James Augustine.
Farther down in the post, Tupper says that Brian Randle might lead the team in rebounding
. That brings me back to the discussion about size. In addition to the beef, 6-8 Randle and 6-10 Warren Carter will bring a new dimension to this year's team. Their length could be a big asset on defense and on the glass. Randle could also be the Big Ten Defensive POY, but the bigger unknown is with Carter. Back on the first post
, Tupper said that the coaching staff is kind of waiting for Warren Carter to step it up
It remains to be seen what this size does to the three-guard offense. Will Coach Weber put three or four of these players (Augustine, Pruitt, Jackson, Carter and Randle) on the floor at the same time? If the big men are playing well and the inexperienced guards are struggling, does he have a choice? The first few months of the new season will be interesting indeed.