Illini Wonk
Sunday, December 18, 2005
  An Illini Carol
In a nod to Charles Dickens and because I'm in the Christmas spirit, Illini Wonk will take a look at the Illini of Seasons Past, Present and Future.

Illini of Seasons Past

Last season--the 100th of Illinois basketball--the Fighting Illini won their first 29 games of the season and made it to their first National Championship game. Though they came up short in that game, they tied a single-season NCAA record with 37 wins. The 2005 NBA Draft saw two players taken in the first round, with Deron Williams going third as the highest drafted player in Illinois basketball history. For more on last season, try one of these books.

Perhaps even more important than the outcome of the 2004-05 season is the fact that Illinois now has three regular contributors in the NBA. Most top high school recruits are dreaming of a future in the pros and would prefer to attend college programs that improve their chances of getting there. Thanks to some recent alumni, Illinois can now be looked at as one of those programs.

Illini of the Present

With the win over winless Coppin State, the Fighting Illini are now in possession of the best record in college hoops at 11-0. They are ranked in the top ten of every major poll (no one can possibly take seriously the CBS Sportsline poll that has North Carolina ranked at 13 ahead of Illinois at 14) and with losses by Texas and Louisville, the Illini look poised to move up again.

Most sports writers have labeled this start a "surprise," but at least one thinks this season's Illini are better than last year. Others think, despite the perfect record, there is much room for improvement. Illini Wonk has chronicled the growing chorus of media praise here and here.

Whatever your interpretation of their season thus far, Mark Tupper summed up the current state of Illinois basketball on his blog when he wrote: These are amazing times in the history of Illini basketball. We’re spoiled, kids. We get to see a victory almost every time out. His post made Illini Wonk pause and realize that in the year I've been blogging (the anniversary of the first post is Tuesday, thanks for asking), I've only had to cover a loss twice. The Illini are 49-2 over the last two seasons.

Illini of Seasons Yet to Come

I don't think it's hyperbole to say that the future of Illinois basketball has never looked brighter. Despite the pending loss of two fantastic seniors, the Illini have some young firepower that will be around for a while and some recruits that are sure to give the program a boost.

The foremost on that list was on display last night at the Circle City Classic where Illinois-bound Eric Gordon put on a show against the #2 team in Illinois. The 32 points from the North Central Junior apparently led Loren Tate to say that Gordon might be the best recruit ever to play for the Illini. According to Illinois Prep Bulls-eye, Gordon is a starter from day one the moment he arrives at Illinois and is hands down the Illini's best recruit in 20 years.

He might be the best, but he's not alone. Joining Gordon in Illinois' 2007 recruiting class is the latest Peoria product--Bill Cole--who committed to the Illini last week. Illinois Prep Bulls-eye ranks Cole among the top three players in Illinois in his class and called the commitment huge for Bruce Weber and Illinois.

Next year, the Illini have 6-11 Brian Carlwell of Proviso East in Chicago. While Carlwell was bested by Greg Oden last night, he is putting up big numbers on the season. They also have 6-9 Richard Semrau from Cleveland, Ohio. Mike Parris of the blogged that Semrau is a Donyell Marshall-type player who is comfortable playing on the wing and shooting from the perimeter.

Oh yeah, and when these top recruits come to Champaign over the next couple of years they'll be playing for Bruce Weber, one of the best coaches in the game. The future is bright, indeed. Merry Christmas Illini nation.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
A college hoops blog dedicated to the Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team.
Where will Illinois spend the 2007 postseason?
Watching on ESPN
Free polls from

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Link to buy Dee Brown book Link to buy Leatherbound, Autographed Century of Orange and Blue book

Where do my $ go? Blogroll Me! Subscribe in NewsGator Online LiveMessage Alerts

Add this blog to my Technorati Favorites!
Your E-mail:

December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / March 2007 /


Sports Publishing Logo

Listed on BlogShares

Powered by Blogger