Saturday, March 26, 2005

Deron was the OT! Posted by Hello

A shame somebody has to go home.... Posted by Hello

Dee celebrates after one of the biggest wins in Illini history.... Posted by Hello

Sheer determination and guts. You got heart? Luther does. Posted by Hello

Share the moment. What a game! Never say die.... Posted by Hello

Coach Bruce and his brother David share a private moment after the big win; Mom would be so happy! Posted by Hello

Never day Die!

With 4 minutes to go and down 75 - was all but over except for the sheer determination to win by the Illini starters. They were not going to lose in Chicago for Bruce. It wasn't in the cards. No matter what happens in St. Louis next weekend; this was something very special. It's a shame Arizona has to go home after this one. They are a great team of athletic warriors. But, it's one and done in the NCAA Tourney. March Madness was defined tonight on the hardwood in Rosemont (about 10 minutes from where I grew up my first 23 years of life). On a windy day I could spit on the Horizon (Allstate Arena) from my house in Mt. Prospect. But that is another story.

What a game. Back and forth. Two golliaths going after it. There was no David on the court tonight. Illinois should have had a bigger halftime lead than two points. Arizona should have won it in the 2nd half with their inside play. We were soft. They were scoring at will against us down low in the post. Salim only was 2-13 and 1-7 from deep. Wow, what a game!

The March to the Arch continues next week. Keep the bus warm; we're going to St. Louis to face Louisville in the National Semi-Final game. Anything can happen and most likely will.

Coach Webber after the game - this net's for U! Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Little man with a big heart! Posted by Hello

Two Thumbs Up Mr. Webber! Bring on UW Milwaukee! Posted by Hello

James had 23 on Saturday against Nevada! Posted by Hello

All I can say is WOW!

What a weekend in college basketball! It really started Friday night with two major upsets when Syracuse lost to Vermont and Kansas lost to Bucknell. That KU loss was really surprising and has to go down as one of the most significant upsets / letdowns in modern times. Who had the Bisons of Bucknell? Come on already. How madening is this month?

Saturday was much better. The big news that day was when Wake went down in 2OT to WV. Who had WV in round 2? Same for UW Milwaukee over BC? Are you kidding me?

The upsets just kept on happening today as UCONN lost to NC State, Florida lost to Villanova, and Georgia Tech lost to Louisville. Wow! Is this great or what?

Now we're down to the SWEET 16. Who lives for another day and who goes whom disapponted in not winning that Nation's Title in College Men's Basketball? Go ILLINI!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Luther and Dee both had good games. When we run we have fun. When we have fun we win! Posted by Hello

Illinois finally played some defense in the 2nd half against the Knights of FDU.  Posted by Hello

Round 1 is over: U of I over FDU....

Well - it wasn't pretty. Our defense let us down in the first half as the Knights of FDU lit it up for 31 points and 50% shooting. Was a different story in the 2nd half when they scored only 24 points ending up at 38% for the game.

On the other side of the coin, our shooting continues to be mediocre at best. We didn't shoot the rock well in Chicago last weekend and continue to struggle at times so far in the Tourney.

I did see a few positive signs:

1) We didn't turn the ball over that much tonight.
2) Dee Brown broke out with 19 points, including a few key 3 pointers.
3) Augustine went for a double double and led the day today with 15 rebounds.
4) Our defense was strong in the 2nd half.

Going forward, we need to put it all together for 40 minutes of play. We might beat Nevada if we just show up for one half or the other, but we won't get past the regional semi-finals (Sweet 16) unless we improve on shooting the rock. It's been 6 games since we shot over 50% for the game. On to round two where the Wolfpack of Nevada await.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

This one is for Bruce.....1 more to go! Posted by Hello

Who's the number one seed?  Posted by Hello

Mr. Augustine was huge in the BIG TEN Tourney... Posted by Hello

2 of 3!

Mission almost accomplished. It wasn't pretty and we're not playing our best basketball these days, but winning the BIG TEN Tourney was a goal back in November. Mission accomplished - along with the regular season title. This team brought the defense to the United Center in Chicago to will their way to the Tourney Title for Coach Bruce Webber. That was for his mom.

Illinois hasn't played well since it stomped Purdue a week ago. Sure, the loss to Ohio State was disappointing. The three games in Chicago this weekend were further proof that we're not playing as well as we did in December. But the one constant, actually getting better, is our defense. Defense wins Championships. Nobody is playing better 'D' in the country right now. When the shooting comes around we'll be a tough out for anybody in the NCAA Tourney.

On the bright side, we did get a handle on our turnovers today versus a good Wisconsin team. Keep in mind that conference teams know each other very well. Not too many non-conference teams have seen the intensity of the Illinois Defense and motion offense. Here are my keys to an Illini Championship:

1) Defense, bring the intensity. This has carried us all year in tough circumstances.
2) Minimize turnovers, maximize takeaways.
3) Shot selection and execution. Good shooting.
4) Intangibles - have fun in the motion offense. It's tough to defend when we do it well.

If we get 3 of 4 then we're not going to lose to anybody. We'll beat most teams with 2 of 4, but may not reach St. Louis. We can lose to anybody anytwhere with only 1 of 4.

Monday, March 07, 2005

How did we lose this game? What happened to area under the curve? There is no justice.  Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Almost perfect - ugh! 29 and ONE!

What a game. Actuallly, it was more of a disappointment than anything else; up 12 points with 11 minutes to play. Give credit where it's due: the Buckeyes just wanted it more today than we did. That's not an easy place to play. Plus, they have no post-season this year so in effect this was their last grand stand. I hope we see them again in the BIG 10 Tourney later this week. I guarantee there will not be a repeat performance of today's 39% FG shooting. Ugh!

I didn't see too many good things to be happy about on the court today. We relied too much on the jumper which didn't go down. We also broke out of most of our offensive sets down the stretch. At times, we were so timid that it looked like we were just trying to hold on to the lead; playing not to loose instead of just closing it out. We had several chances to put this one on ice but didn't.

At least we don't have to worry about going 39-0 this year. I'll take 38-1 at this point. Ohio State just flat-0ut played harded today and made the big shots down the stretch. Bring on the BIG 10 Tourney and the BIG DANCE. Don't forget to sign-up for March Madness at Ronler Madness 2k5.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Mission Not Accomplished....yet!

After the Purdue game when asked by a reporter about what does this mean to our team (repeat BIG 10 championships):

After the game, the Illinois cut down the nets to celebrate their second consecutive Big Ten championship.

"This was one of our goals," Illini coach Bruce Weber told the crowd. "But we still have some unsettled business."Illinois will finish its regular-season schedule Sunday at Ohio State.

Bruce is the only BIG 10 coach ever to win back to back BIG 10 championships in his first two years with a program.

Roger raises another BIG 10 championship trophy! Posted by Hello

Another BIG 10 Championship! Cut 'em down Lutha! Posted by Hello

Gene and Bruce before the game. Note the grill in the background. Very cool! Posted by Hello

High and strong to the goal! Posted by Hello

And that makes 29!

It's been a long 8 days without Illini basketball. I was going through some serious withdrawal until I saw my team light it up from the outside Thursday night in Champaign against the mighty Boildermakers from Purdue. That was an airial assault of cataclysmic proportions. I think we were a combined 11-19 from behind the arch in the first - half alone. Dee Brown and Deron Williams lit it up from down-town. If we play like that down the stretch we're unbeatable. Tomorrow we get the Buckeyes in Columbus. Doug - can you get me a ticket?

The regular season wraps up then and the BIG 10 Tourney starts on Thrusday of WW11. Selection Sunday is only 8 days away so start thinking about those brackets. Don't forget to visit our site this year for your bracket fix: Search for Ronler Madness 2k5; the password is 8675309. Enjoy the madness but don't get too carried away unless your team sports blue and orange this year. Then, it's OK to be insane for the next month!

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