Tuesday, February 08, 2005

1,000 and counting (plus the Bigs)

Congrats to Roger Powell on surpassing 1,000 points for his career on Sunday against the Hoosiers. He joins Dee Brown and Luther Head on that list with Deron Williams only 87 points away and James Augustine 215 away. Entering the NCAA tournament, Illinois could very well have 4 starters who have more than a 1,000 points for their career, with one other one within 150 of a 1,000. That fact speaks a lot to the reasons why Illinois is 23-0 at this point in the season. Among other things, it shows that:

1) The players are experienced. It takes time to reach 1,000 points.

2) The players are consistent. You have to be to score that many points.

3) The players are unselfish. They share the ball with one another.

4) The team is versatile. Any one of the players can step up on any given night and hurt you.

I think now is also a good time to give a shout-out to the Illini big men. With three outstanding guards, James Augustine and Roger Powell (not to mention the reserves), often get overlooked or forgotten. Many of the so-called experts have said the interior is Illinois' weakness or softspot. I think they can only say that because they are comparing it to the guards. It doesn't meet up with the facts.

Augustine and Powell were huge in the game against Indiana. They have come up big in every game when they have needed to and both have been named Big 10 Player of the Week during the season (Augustine received the honor twice). Powell has been very consistent all season and Augustine's confidence seems to have grown tremendously over the past few games. He has scored, rebounded, blocked shots, and been all over the court.

I think the Illini big men are finally starting to get some of their due. Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis has named Roger Powell to his 2005 All-Glue team. The Illini's guards are great but it is nice to see a big man get some recognition from the national media.

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