Sunday, January 30, 2005

Something Special

Saturday was a very special day in a very special season. If you didn't attend, watch it on TV, or listen to it on the radio, the full magnitude of the day might not have sunk in. If you missed seeing or listening to it yesterday, Chief provides a link in his post titled "Media Hype" to Mark Tupper's excellent column that lets you imagine you were there.

The game itself resulted in an 89-66 win over Minnesota with great games from Deron Williams, Roger Powell, and James Augustine. The win was important so as not to put a damper on the day, but the real show was seeing former Illini coaches, including Lou Henson, be honored at halftime followed by the centennial celebration after the game in which more than 350 past players, coaches, and support staff were recognized including the 20 players selected to the Illinois All-Century Team.

100 years of Illini Basketball History gathered together in one place on one day. There would be no let down from the current Illini team, who wanted to make put on a show for their honored guests and give everyone a day to remember. The Illini are now 21-0 and will be #1 again this week in the AP rankings. This will be their ninth straight week at the top, the longest any team has been #1 since Connecticut's 1998-99 NCAA Championship team.

The 1989 Flyin' Illini are widely considered to be the best team Illinois has had during their 100 years of basketball history. With several members of that 1989 team in attendance, the Illini ended yesterday's game with having scored 89 points. While I am sure they didn't plan it that way, it seems fitting. During the centennial year of Illinois basketball, on a very special day in a very special season, this current Illini team is looking to take their place in Illini basketball history. Time will tell where they rank, but yesterday gave us the opportunity to remember those that came before them. Here's to the past, the present, and the next 100 years of Illini basketball.

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