Illini Wonk
Saturday, October 08, 2005
  Preseason Polls
Over at College Basketball, hoops blogger Yoni Cohen has a composite listing of the preseason top 25. The Illinois Fighting Illini are ranked anywhere from 11 by Slam Magazine to 25 by ESPN commentator Andy Katz. Their composite ranking is 14. Here are the polls:

Slam Magazine: 11

Gregg Doyel: 16 Comments: Dee Brown's broken foot was great luck for the Illini. With Brown, the Illini will challenge for the Big Ten title.

ACC Handbook: 18 Comments: Big Ten Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Dee Brown returns, as does Big Ten Tournament MVP James Augustine.

Athlon: 18

Yoni Cohen: 20 Comments: James Augustine and Dee Brown return for last year's runner-ups. Augustine got better as last season went along. Brown, more importantly, is likely to blossom into the Big Ten's best player with Luther Head and Deron Williams gone. But unless Bruce Weber finds or develops three additional starters, the Fighting Illini may not have enough fight in them for the long Big Ten season. Achilles' heel: Depth. Augustine and Brown are Illinois' only proven commodities. In addition to Rich McBride, two of the following players — Chester Frazier, Jamar Smith, Calvin Brock, and Brian Randle — must step up.

Street & Smith's: 21

Lindy's: 22

Andy Katz: 25 Comments: Credentials: Dee Brown, Big Ten player of the year; James Augustine, a developing post presence; Bruce Weber, one of the top rising coaches in the game; confidence that they can't be beaten in the Big Ten; an awesome home court that ranks with the best in the country; Orange, plenty of orange, to blind opponents. Reason: The Illini could go a lot higher if Brown is able to become Mr. Everything at the point. Moving on without compadres Williams, Head and Powell won't be easy, but Brown has the confidence to forge ahead. If his broken foot is healed, Brown should be one of the hardest players in the nation to chase from end to end. The question is, what kind of help will he get from newcomers Chester Frazier and Jamar Smith or redshirts Calvin Brock and Brian Randle? If they all come through with productive seasons, the Illini could be a factor in the Big Ten again. Red flag: Experience outside of Brown and Augustine will be an issue. This team won't be feared anymore on the road. Everyone will be looking for payback and the Illini will have to be able to handle the surge of emotion every time they are on the opponent's court.

Recently, Illini Wonk posted one that Yoni didn't have in the composite list:

Dick Vitale: 13 Comments: For those downgrading coach Bruce Weber's team, watch out. Guard Dee Brown is first-team All-Solid Gold, and the newcomers will help out.
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