Sunday, March 20, 2005

Up Close And Personal

I've watched pretty much every Illini game on television this year, so it was a real treat to see them up close. The guards struggled with their shots early and Dee Brown was sick/had cramps. But unlike teams that will insist on taking their best shot with their best players, the Illini looked for another answer. And they found it with James Augustine. He scored on several dunks and the highly touted trio of Brown, Williams and Head found him for open jumpers too.

Jack Ingram also had a career high off the bench. All year, all you'd hear about nationally is the backcourt... yet in the biggest game of the year, that backcourt was smart enough to realize the way to win was to defer.

Every game is a test. Each posession, each decision, each play is a question and how you answer will determine whether you pass or in this case go home. Illinois is moving on to a game with Wisconsin-Milwaukee... a game with some good subplots.

1. Bruce Pearl, coach of UWM was (along with former player Deon Thomas) at the center of the controversy that put Illinois on probation in the early 90's

2. Bruce Weber grew up in Milwaukee and is a UWM grad (he was also at one time an assistant coach at my high school).

3. For Market 117 hoops fans, UWM is led by Joah Tucker who transfered from Bradley to be closer to home.

For me it is an intriguing game because I grew up just blocks from the UWM campus and have seen the program grow from nothing to a Sweet 16 team. My dad follows the team and will never let Shannon hear the end of it if they win.

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