Sunday, December 23, 2007

Desperate Drive Over the Tigers

It's been a tough start to the basketball season for my struggling hoops squad this year. Things got off to an OK start out in Maui winning 3 of 4 (only loss to Duke, who doesn't?). However, ever since we returned to the mainland it's been nip and tuck with some tough losses against Maryland, Arizona, and Miami (OH) - yuck! We really could have and should have won all three games. Instead of 7-4, we might just be 10-1.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda - results speak for themselves. We're not a good shooting club this year, especially from the outside. This team is still trying to blend and fold into something, anything, that resembles a cohesive basketball unit. I'd say we're on the right track but that progress has been very slow. Hopefully that will change next season when we get Legion and Smith back in the lineup to join Meachem. If there is any good news so far this year it's that we landed a good one from Kentucky in Alex Legion (6'-4" 195 lb. shooting guard). In addition to one of the best pure outside shooters in the country (Jamar Smith), Alex should really help to bolster the outside game. He played his senior ball at Oak Hill Academy (not too shabby) and helped lead his team to the 2007 National Championship. While there, he set the season records in free-throw and three-point shooting percentages averaging 19.6 / game and 53% from the floor. Unfortunately, it won't be in time to join Pruitt and Randle who both leave at the end of this season.

As for this year's edition of the Busch Bragging Rights affair, it was sheer determination that willed us to victory down the stretch of a tightly contestted game. We really needed another quality win on the young season as we head into conference play next month. In front of 21,900 inside the Scottrade Center (St. Louis), we didn't disappoint - finally. That makes it 8 in a row over Missouri in this one. And looking ahead to March (I know, very dangerous), this could be a game that helps my 'on-the-bubble' ILLINI team make the BIG DANCE. We'll see. I'm not quite sure we'll reach 20 wins this year.

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