Saturday, January 22, 2005

19-0 and the best ever!

Well Well Well. What else is there to be said? 19-0 is the best starting record in school history at Illinois (EL-IN-OYE!). Hitting the 15 win mark this season marked 1500 total wins for the program in its first 100 years of basketball. Only 15 other programs can say that.

Sure, the Iowa game was closer than we would have liked. Yep - we shot only 32% a season low and well below the 58% average. But, sometimes you just have find a way to win no matter the roadblocks. And, that's what happened Thursday night in Champaign against the Hawkeyes, who are by the way a great team under Alford.

Augustine was sick and Williams was in foul trouble most of the game that night. Nobody was hot from the field except Head. That's why it's good to have team talent and chemistry. These guys feed off each other and play as a team. They may not be the most talented but they are the best TEAM in the game today; no doubt.

Now, looking to the next game in the Kohl Center against the hated Badgers of UW. Well - that is going to be a tough one. 38-0 versus 19-0; something has to give. The badgers are a great team and are even greater at home in Madison. That is one of the toughest places to play in the country, no question. It was designed for basketball and not a common-use facility. The fans are right down on the court with the players. It will be our toughest challenge of the year to date. Bottomline, nobody wins in Madison at the Kohl Center. They always get the calls from the referees. I think statistically it's the best home-court officiating advantage in the game if you know what I mean.

Keys for an Illini victory (and it is possible; but unlikely):

1) Limit their chances and 2nd chances. They can't own the boards; especially on offense.
2) No knock-out punches fed by the home-court advantage. Surey that place will be rockin'.
3) Play our game and play it well. Don't try to mix it up down low. We run and must do it.
4) Play solid defense and use it to drive the fast-break machine (best in the game; no doubt).
5) Hit shots - especially the 3-ball. We average 25 / game. We need to make at least 10.
6) Have fun and play as a team. That is our strength. Nobody does it better right now. This is the most exciting team in the game to watch.

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