Tisdale Joins Illini 2007 Recruiting Class
, the only drama surrounding Illinois' final game of 2005 was whether or not Mike Tisdale would end his recruiting with a verbal commitment to the Illini. Well, that drama has ended and Tisdale joins the stellar 2007 recruiting class of Illinois coach Bruce Weber. His commitment came Saturday, according to Orange & Blue News
Illini Wonk will have a lot more on this over the next couple of days. If you're looking for past stories on Tisdale, click here
Blue-collar Illini face Skyhawks
Having just defeated the Redhawks on Wednesday night, the Illini will now face the Skyhawks on Friday night. (Who's next...the Chickenhawks?) UTM is coming off a 62-54 loss to Purdue
on Wednesday night and are 5-4 on the season.
Tonight's game is the final obstacle
between Illinois and their second consecutive undefeated pre-conference schedule. Although the records are similar, this year's Illini have achieved it in a vastly different manner. Last year, it was offense. This year, defense and rebounding
. Coach Bruce Weber describes it thusly: last year we were white collar, this year, blue
. Still, Weber would like to see more consistency
from his team.
Speaking of rebounding, Illinois senior James Augustine is in need of 11 rebounds to surpass the 853 Efrem Winters recorded between 1983 and 1986 and become Illinois' all-time leading rebounder
. Apparently, Augie's also popular with the ladies
With Illinois listed as 26 or 27-point favorites
, the biggest drama of the night could be whether or not Bruce Weber offers Michael Tisdale a scholarship. The 7-foot junior from Riverton High School just set the Carlinville Holiday Tournament scoring record with 118 points in four games and will be in attendance at Assembly Hall tonight
For Gametracker, click here
Fighting Illini Win, move to 13-0
The Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team recorded their 13th consecutive win to open the season with an 89-64 victory
over Southeast Missouri State. Mark Tupper gives the effort a "B" and says the Illini managed to avoid the Christmas hangover
After watching the game, Illini Wonk had a few thoughts, many of which are similar to Tuper's:
- Does Jamar Smith ever miss? The freshman was 5-5 tonight (4-4 on three-pointers) and is among the best three-point shooters in the nation.
- Warren Carter had the best game Illini Wonk has ever seen him play. He was solid on defense, crashed the boards (including one impressive tip-dunk) and played with a lot more energy than usual. His effort showed up in the stat-sheet: 14 points on 6-11 shooting and 7 rebounds in 18 minutes.
- Dee Brown looked like an All-American at times and other times...not so much. He had some great drives for baskets and some that he forced shots or committed offensive fouls. He had some great outside shots that came from the flow of play and he had some that he forced. It's used so often in sports that it's becomea cliche, but with Brown it's true: when he lets the game come to him, he's great. When he tries to take over, he has trouble.
- The bigs looked good, but still didn't dominate the way they're capable of dominating.
- It's good to have Chester Frazier back on the court. He gave Illinois some nice minutes and didn't show any signs of an injury.
Ultimately, it's tough to draw too many conclusions against such an inferior opponent. Murch more will be revealed once the Illini hit conference play. Photos of the game are available on ESPN.
They can't be much worse than Missouri
Having handily dispatched Missouri, the Illinois Fighting Illini will now play a Missouri with, not one collegiate hyphen, but two: Southeast Missouri State. If there were any justice in college basketball, they would take into account the fact that you just beat the main university by 32 points and, out of mercy, cancel the game against someone with a "Southeast" prefix and a "State" suffix.
But, play we must. And so, the Illini will face the RPI 294
Redhawks (4-6) on Wednesday night. Their coach, Gary Garner, said "It's a huge challenge for us, to say the least
" as they prepare to face the highest-ranked Division I opponent in the program's history
. In a statement reeking of bulletin-board material
, Illinois coach Bruce Weber said "our challenge isn't the opponents. It's ourselves and continuing to improve
." Apparently Weber primarily wants to use the game to get more touches for the big guys
Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m. CST. Click here
for Gametracker. To listen to a live broadcast on K103
of Cape Girardeau, click here
Tired of Christmas Music?
For something a little different, try the 2005-06 remix of Tha Illini
from Big Hit Buda
For those of you who are "rap challenged" in the ear, here are the lyrics as best as Illini Wonk can make them out:It's the Remix. Where we at y'all?
We make the crowd goWhere we at y'all?I-L-LUh-huhI-N-I
Yes sir! It was a wild ride
We coming back hard
Eyes still on the prize
It's a new year
Big Ten still up ahead
And it ain't goin' nowhere
Like Gene Keady's hair
Frustrate whatever coach we face
Dee for three! Money in the bank
Now they got us underrated
That's crazy as hell
It's like choosin' frozen pizzas over Papa Del's
Storm the floor, too quick on our feet
You'll meet defeat you reach your seat
Competition hear this beat, they gonna fear it
Got that U of I spirit? Then, come on let's hear it!
Where we at y'all
We make the crowd go
Where we at y'all?
I-N-IOur fans are insane
They don't miss a game
It's crazy here, that's why
Teams hate to play in the 'Paign
The whole game, all you hear is WHOAA!!
You all in the front row pounding on the floor
Non-believers step off campus
Do like Bill, take your Self to Kansas
Come to Champaign, think we can't ball?
It's like not seeing orange in Assembly Hall
Got so much orange you can't see the rim
Wear another color they won't let you in
We get teams against the ropes with alley-oops and dunks
They have the fan with the fists throw the knock-0ut punch
Where we at y'all?
We make the crowd goWhere we at y'all?
Everybody think I'm on that bandwagon ride
I've got U of I pride 'till I die
Luther and Deron are making that cheddar
But we still got Dee, Augie and Bruce WeberOur condition our position is Big Ten ChampsIt's the remix I wanna see ya danceThis year, got revenge on the HeelsOn top of that we did it in Chapel HillCome down the lane you gettin' stuffedRunnin' over teams leavin' an Orange KrushWe winning anyway when they think we can'tNow get buck wild to the Illini chantWe got our swag backI-L-LI-N-IWe make the crowd goWe got our swag backI-L-LI-N-IWe make the crowd go
Braggin Rights turns into Blowout Night
The Illinois Fighting Illini served up an 82-50 beat-down to the Missouri Tigers in the 25th annual Braggin' Rights game. The final score was the most lopsided margin in the 36-game history of the interstate rivalry
Dee Brown had an oustanding game, scoring 17 points on 5-11 shooting (4-7 on three-pointers) and handing out seven assists without a turnover. He also added two steals and four rebounds in 36 minutes of play.
On his post-game blog post, Mark Tupper asks: Is Illinois that good
? Illini Wonk asks: Who knew the game would be that boring? I mean, the only suspense in the second half revolved around whether or not we'd get to see some Frank Williams highlights from past games. Missouri was pathetic. Their offense (assuming they had one) couldn't get an open shot if their lives depended on it. Illinois' defense looked good, but Missouri made it look legendary.
As Tupper says later in that post
, if Quin Snyder survives this season to return here next year, he’s either a miracle worker or he has pictures of the administration in compromising situations. Actually, it might take both
. An ESPN commentator mentioned that Snyder got a bucket of popcorn dumped on his head while exiting the court. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Photo galleries from ESPN
. Illini Wonk will post additional stories on the game here
Braggin' Rights Border War
Tonight at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2 is one of the best non-conference rivalries in College Basketball--the annual Braggin' Rights game between Illinois and Missouri at the Savvis Center in St. Louis. Illinois are winners of five straight (for a complete history click here
and highlights click here
) which means that Illini seniors Dee Brown and James Augustine have never lost a game and Missouri senior Jimmy McKinney is staring at his final chance for a win
The experience of their seniors will be necessary for the Illini as Sean Pruitt
and Jamar Smith
will be on the court at the event for the first time and Brian Randle
will not be at 100%.
Despite being heavily favored
, the Illini are wary of the Tigers
, which is good considering that Mizzou is desperate
. Mark Tupper says that Missouri coach Quinn Snyder is likely on his way out
. For his part, Snyder's hoping for a miracle
tonight. That's because, according to Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, the Illini are much, much better
Will Leitch of Deadspin is going home to St. Louis to watch the game
as is apparently everyone else
in the city that has been suffering through other sports seasons
To watch an interview with Bruce Weber about the game, click here
. For one with Dee Brown, click here
. In case these aren't enough preview articles for you, click on my del.icio.us tag Braggin
Happy Anniversary to Wonk!
It was one year ago today that the first Illini Wonk post
appeared. Now, 303 posts later, it's time to celebrate the one year anniversary of Illini Wonk. Here are a few stats for you for the past 365 days:
- 304 blog posts
- 98,814 visitors
- 182,618 page views
- 12 trackbacks (since Haloscan was added Feb. 17)
- 182 comments (since Haloscan was added Feb. 17)
- 49 incoming links from 32 blogs
- 572 emails
- 20 Bloglines subscribers
- 2 Amazon contributions
- 3 blogads
- 394 Google AdSense clicks
- 38-2 record for Illini since first post
You might be wondering how I intend to celebrate? (Even if you weren't, I'm going to tell you). I'll be attending the biggest college basketball game
to come to Sioux Falls in recent memory when the Manhattan Jaspers play the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. SDSU (whose 65 points at Illinois represent the highest from any opponent this year) is in their second year of NCAA Division I basketball and I'm impressed that they were able to get Manhattan to come all this way. It's the kind of game that Kyle Whelliston
would really get excited about.
Thanks to all of you for reading. It's been a great year.
UPDATE: I went to the game tonight and it was a good one. Overtime even. On the slight chance that someone is interested, I posted my recap
over at College Basketball. Photos (which aren't very good) are on Flickr
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
--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
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. WeÂre 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.
It's an Illini Christmas
It must be getting close to Christmas. Kedric Prince has his Ten Christmas Wishes
, Mark Tupper speculates that owning an ankle that isn't purple and throbbing
is on Bruce Weber's Christmas list
and Illini Wonk has gift ideas
for that Illinois college basketball fan in your life. I'd been noticing several Google searches for Illinois basketball ornaments, so I thought I'd post
it again. Keep in mind that everything you purchase through Amazon links from this page supports Illini Wonk and keeps Illinois basketball news coming your way.
Merry Christmas from everyone here at Illini Wonk!
Illini land second big 2007 recruit in Bill Cole
Yesterday, Peoria Richwoods Junior Center Bill Cole
gave his verbal commitment to play basketball at the University of Illinois, joining Eric Gordon in Illinois' 2007 recruiting class
. The the 6-foot-9, 200-pound junior (who is still growing) is compared to Brian Cook
by his high school coach. A teammate of Jamar Smith last year, Cole is averaging 16.2 points and 10 rebounds per game this season.
Brian Stinnette at Chicago Hoops had this to say about Cole
, one of the top Illinois prospects in his class: Cole, who stands 6-9, is tall, long and highly skilled. Last year, as a sophomore, he was a teammate of Jamar Smith, who is currently starring as a freshman at Illinois. Cole has excellent shooting range for a player his size, and with added strength, could develop into a force inside
Illini get love from media, pollsters
Yesterday, Illini Wonk posted
about the in-state media who were joining the Illinois basketball bandwagon. Apparently, that bandwagon has grown big enough for national pollsters and even ESPN.
Every college basketball top 25 poll moved the Illini up today. Kedric Prince noted that the Illini moved up to #9 in the latest AP poll
. Illinois also moved up in the Coaches poll
, two spots to #8. Luke Winn thought the Fighting Illini were good enough to debut at #5 in his Power Rankings
. The only poll that does not have the Illini in the top ten is the CBS Sportsline.com poll
, which places them 14. (The other polls are visible in the links on the side bar, where they will be updated all season long).
The pundits over at ESPN have taken note of the team with the best record in college basketball. Dick Vitale
and Andy Katz
picked the Illini as their team of the week. Vitale moved Illinois to #5 on his Top 25
and put a nice picture of Bruce Weber on his home page
This bandwagon's gettin' bigger
This wasn't supposed to happen. No one, not even the players, expected the Illinois Fighting Illini to be 10-0 at this point in the season. They lost two starters to the first round of the NBA Draft and a third to the CBA
. The experts certainly didn't predict it.
Local hoops pundit Brett Dawson, author of a book about last season
, posted this on his blog
before the games began: I still don’t know what to expect. Neither does anyone, really. I keep telling people that I’ve seen Illinois ranked between 12th and 30th, and that seems about right. Which is to say I don’t know where they belong
Big Ten Wonk, with his abundance of stats and encyclopedic conference wisdom, previewed the Illinois season had this to say about how they would fare: Wonk doesn't know. Bruce Weber doesn't know. No one knows
Now they know and following the rout of Oregon
, the bandwagon is filling up. On his blog, the day after the game, Mark Tupper wrote
: Illinois should now start thinking in terms of improving, staying healthy, clinging to its credo of playing hard and playing relentless defense, and sliding back to the Final Four
. He finished the post with: It’s exciting to once again be following a team that seems capable of doing special things
On the same day, Dawson (who picked Illinois to lose to Oregon) blogged
: Get me a seat on that bandwagon. On Sunday, I’ll put my Associated Press vote where my mouth is, moving Illinois firmly into the Top 10 after resisting doing so for two weeks
. (Maybe Dawson could follow the lead of Jeff Shelman
last year and post his AP vote on his blog?)Big Ten Wonk
? UPDATE: According to Big Ten Wonk, there are both Reasons to start ordering commemorative posters of this year's Illini and Reasons to dwell on last year's Illini--at length
. The former being the Illini's excellent defense...the latter their mediocre shooting.
BTW, if you didn't catch the game, FoxSports has three mintues of highlights here
If it walks like a Duck...
...and talks like a duck, you must be in Oregon. On Saturday, the Illinois Fighting Illini will take their 9-0 record to the Rose Garden in Portland to play the Oregon Ducks at 7:00 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net
on the weekly PAC-10 College Basketball program. The Illini met Oregon last year at the United Center, so the teams will not be unfamiliar to one another.
Oregon started the season 4-0, with wins over Savannah State, Bowie State, Pacific and Rice, but are coming off back-to-back losses on the road to Vanderbilt and Georgetown at home. This game offers them the opportunity to get things right
The Ducks are led by 6-6 swingman Malik Hairston, who is averaging 15.8 points per game, but have a balanced offense with 8 players averaging at least five points per outing. The Rose Garden is to the Ducks what the United Center is to the Illini...and then some. Oregon hasn't lost any of the seven games they've played on the court.
Illinois' record comes at a surpise to some
, but Frank Burlison says it's only a surprise because everyone figured Dee Brown would have to carry them. Not only that, but Mark Tupper says that the game could be the last big hurdle standing between a 14-0 start
for the Illini.
Follow the game online with CBS Sportsline.com's GameCenter
Defense carries Illini to victory over Hoyas
Early in the season, Illinois coach Bruce Weber said that their defense would have to carry them this year. It certainly was the case against the Georgetown Hoyas tonight at the Assembly Hall in Champaign. The Illini held the Hoyas to 13 first half points and 38 percent shooting for the game en route to a 58-48 win
As Illini Wonk has pointed out repeatedly
, the seniors will need to carry the Illini on the offensive end. Against Georgetown they put in a lot of minutes and were big factors in the win. Dee Brown led Illinois with 16 points and three assists. James Augustine had his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Barker Davis of the Washington Times
made the trip to Champaign and said Brown and Augustine were two players for which (the Hoyas) had no answers
. You can watch Brown talk to ESPN's Erin Andrews here
about the defense.
But the good work on the defensive end masked a poor offensive night from Illinois. They shot only 32 percent from the field and 39 percent from three point territory. Early in the game, the Illini made Georgetown center Roy Hibbert look like the best shot-blocker of all time. The Illini frequently went deep into the shot clock, forcing Brown to create a play or take a difficult shot.
There were other positives in the game. The Illini dominated the Hoyas on the boards, outrebounding them 44-31 overall and 22-9 on the offensive glass. Illinois scored 16 points off of offensive rebounds
. They also shot a season best 78.6 percent from the free throw line.
As usual, Illinois Loyalty has photos
. For all of the game articles go to del.icio.us
Following the game, Mark Tupper blogged
about how winning has become the norm for Illinois basketball. He sees a lot of potential for this team once they improve their offense. Said Tupper:
What’s going to be fun to watch is to see how many strides Illinois can make offensively during the next few weeks when Weber locks them in the gym during the semester break and cracks the whip teaching the fine points of motion. This is already a very good defensive team. And, clearly, they know how to win. Add to the mix a more precision and efficient offense and Illinois will cause people troubles.
What's a Hoya?
Tonight at 8:00 EST on ESPN, the 8-0 Illinois Fighting Illini will host the Georgetown Hoyas
. For the GameTracker, click here
. The press corp as identified two themes for the game:
1. Injuries to the Illini backcourt
2. Illinois' full schedule
, they won their first 8 games in a 17 day stretch.
For the Hoyas, the coverage focuses on the inconsistency they've had so far this year. Barker Davis of the Washington Times
previews the game here
and Bailey Heaps does the same for The Hoya
These Illini are del.icio.us!
Have you ever wished that there was an archive of Illinois basketball stories that was searchable by keyword? Me too. So I created one using the tagging software del.icio.us
and posted the tags on the right-hand side of this blog under "my del.icio.us tags
All of the tags should be pretty self-explanatory. If you want to see all the stories written by Mark Tupper click on Tupper
. If you want to see everything written about Jamar Smith, click on JamarSmith
I started it this weekend, so the stories only go back as far as December 3, but I will try to keep them up to date going forward. If you use del.icio.us
, you can suggest stories for me by tagging them for:illiniwonk. If you don't subscribe, feel free to email them to me.
As always, let me know what you think. There are always a lot of stories out there that I don't have time to blog about, but with this addition to Illini Wonk, you should be able to better keep up on Illini basketball news.
Krush supports Jimmy V Foundation
The Jimmy V Classic is three quarters done and Vitale just left center court after his annual impassioned pitch for raising money for the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research
. It's a great event for a great cause and it warmed my heart to see that the Orange Krush will donate $50,000
to the Jimmy V Foundation this Thursday night during halftime of the Fighting Illini game versus Georgetown.
Not only does the Orange Krush make Assembly Hall one of the most difficult places for visitors to win in the country, they also raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy charities like this one. Illini Wonk salutes you, Orange Krush.
Smith leads Illinois in rout
He's so good, he only missed two shots while racking up 23 points. He's so new, that CBS Sportsline.com
apparently can't find a mug shot (paging the Illini Sports Information Department...Kent?). That's true freshman Jamar Smith, who nearly trippled his season scoring average and led the Illinois Fighting Illini to a 75-49 win
over Arkansas-Little Rock.
The Illini seniors were overshadowed by the freshman, but still had good nights. Dee Brown did everything but score, grabbing five rebounds and dropping ten dimes (many of those on dishes to Smith). James Augustine had 12 points and 7 rebounds.
But it was Smith off the bench who stole the show, going 6 for 8 on three-pointers. He was shooting with so much confidence and getting off shots so quickly. Once the ball left his hand, you just knew it was going in. He gave us a glimpse
of what he was capable of when he led the team against Illinois Wesleyan, but tonight he showed it all. The drive to the basket that he finished with the left hand and the mid-range jumper he hit were almost as impressive as the six threes. Through the first eight games of his career, Smith is 21 for 38 (55 percent) from behind the arc. In addition to scoring, Mark Tupper said Smith also played pretty solid defense, made some sweet passes and seemed to get his team cranked up as well
After a shaky first half that saw the Illini carry a four point lead into the locker room, they came out firing in the second. Smith had seven points and an assist during a 20-0 run that put the game out of reach and gave Illinois their 25th straight home victory.
The Illini did some things well. They took care of the ball, committing only 11 turnovers. They played solid defense, holding the Trojans to 35.8 percent shooting and under 50 points. However, Illinois continues to struggle from the charity stripe where they shot 57 percent.
Dan O'Brien posted some photos
at Illinois Loyalty.
Illini edge Xavier, face Arkansas-Little Rock
Despite spotting Xavier the first 12 points of the game, the Illinois Fighting Illini were able to overcome a 15-point first half deficit to hand Xavier their first loss of the season
. Dee Brown and James Augustine both had big games, with Augustine earning Big Ten Co-Player of the Week
honors for his game-leading 23-point effort.
Tonight, the Illini face an Arkansas-Little Rock
team that's coming off only a five point loss
to Michigan State.
Follow online with the GameTracker here
. To listen to the game live from Arkansas, click here
(warning: you might have to download some stuff to get the streaming broadcast).
Xavier Gunning for the Illini
Today, Illinois takes on the Muketeers of Xavier. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference
, Xavier has played three games
this year and won them by an average of 30 points, including a 19 point win
over Purdue in the Wooden Tradition
Xavier returns all five starters and the top two reserves from a team that went 17-12 (10-6) last season and finished tied for second in their conference. That will be an advantage for Xavier
over the Illini writes Dustin Dow in the Cincinnati Enquirer
They will be led by senior forward Brian Thornton
, who comes into the game averaging 20 points on 84 percent shooting along with 7.3 rebounds per game. Dedrick Finn has returned to the team after (I'm not kidding) being suspended for stealing his ex-girlfriend's dog
, the game with Illinois stands out as their biggest matchup of the season. A10 opponent George Washington is the only other team ranked in the top 25 on their schedule. So it's not surprising that Xavier has been looking ahead to the game. Following the last win over Copin State, Xavier sophomore guard Stanley Burrell said:
"All we've been talking about is playing Illinois. Not to say we were looking over Coppin State; Coach did a great job of letting us know we need to stay focused. ... But all week leading up to it, we've just been thinking about playing Illinois - playing Illinois and putting on a good show."
Xavier has a lot to play for, as Dow shows in another article
. "Xavier could very well find itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble in March," CollegeRPI.com's Jerry Palm said. "A win against a team like Illinois is one of those things that can put you over."
Illinois will be looking to keep their perfect record intact
following a much-publicized road victory over the North Carolina Tarheels. They will also be looking to record their 15th straight win in the United Center and improve on their 27-6 all-time record in the arena. "We always do well there
," forward James Augustine said. The Chicago Tribune welcomes the Illini to town with the following headline: Sweet 2nd home in Chicagoland
The oddsmakers have the Illini 5-5.5 point favorites. For those of you who don't get the game on TV, you can listen to the Musketeer's broadcast here and get the GameTracker here. For the Illinois game notes, click here.
I'm Dreaming of an Orange Christmas
Well, December is here and if you're like me you haven't purchased a single Christmas present yet. If you're still searching for that special gift for an Illini fan...have no fear! Illini Wonk is here to help!
Actually Illini Wonk is here to tell you to go to Amazon. You can't go wrong with Brett Dawson's Tales from the 2004-05 Fighting Illini
, which Illini Wonk reviewed here
. If you're looking for books by other Illini bloggers, try Mark Tupper's Bruce Weber: Through My Eyes
. I haven't read it yet, but if it's as good as his blog, it's, well, good.
But, did you know that Amazon has more than books now? How about an authentic Illinois Nike basketball jersey? Yep, they come in navy
(without the grey shoulder) or orange
. Or, if you're cheaper and cheekier, try a Illinois "Got Weber?" T-Shirt
. If you're one of those people who really get into the Christmas spirit, you might want to get a University of Illinois Basketball Christmas Ornament
or four Fighting Illini Slam Dunk Snowman Ornaments
I've posted a few other products on the right side of this blog, or you can just do a search at Amazon for Illini
and see all the things that come up. There's enough to make any diehard Illini fan's Christmas and, by clicking through these links, you'll support Illini Wonk with each purchase. It's the gift that keeps on giving...