…of the Fighting Illini bball team. This based on viewing two preseason games (thank you, Big10 Network)–well, really one-and-a-half, as I slept through part of the first one. Two lopsided wins. It could’ve been worse. For example you could lose to Grand Valley State or the University of Freaking Findlay (love that headline–go Falcons, I mean, Oilers!)
The Motion: Bruce’s motion offense already looks better than it did last year. Maybe because he has big guys suited for his system? Maybe because Shaun Pruitt barely played? Still, a couple of times deep into the shot clock with nowhere to go. Hope that’s not a theme.
The D: Defense will be there. You can count on that. With all the bodies, we will hack-attack teams to death at times. Still not enough quickness on the perimeter to be truly frightening, though…
Bigs: Shaun ‘Big Sauce’ Pruitt will draw constant double teams. He will paste grade-B postmen into nothing. How will he fare against quality big men? When will he get sick of passing? My favorite Big Sauce stat: 7 assists last year, and he started every game. Who will back him up? Who else will play? I’m guessing, Mike Tisdale, Mike Davis, and maybe Semrau.
Wings: Whither Brian Randle? Please, Brian… Alexander looks like a solid Blandon Ferguson upgrade–shot selection and D will be key for him. Holdren is McBride without the D. Brock will excite, then frustrate.
Guards: Weber had better backcourts at SIU. This group will probably be overmatched all year. I like Frazier’s heart, and Meacham’s stroke. McCamey has a lot of potential, but will need some time. The recruiting problems really hurt us here. Still, they will be better than a lot of people think.
Bench: Who will play? Will anyone redshirt? How many in the rotation? In the past Weber has been hesitant to play more than 7 or 8 guys. I hope that changes. We have a lot of bodies and should use that to our advantage. I hope we can settle on a 9 or 10 man rotation. That would mean Cole redshirts, and a couple of guys get very few minutes. So who transfers, then? CJ Jackson has already gone to football, but I would bet at least one more big man sees the writing and goes somewhere else. I know who my candidates would be. Personally, I would redshirt two of the freshmen, but Coach has always said he’d never force anyone to do it.
Early Test: We should get an idea of this team pretty quickly, with the Hawaii trip looming. The non-conference schedule is stronger and the Big10 is weaker.
Beemsville Prediction: 20+ wins and squeak into the tourney. Of course, if Randle goes down, all bets are off.