Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Answers to some questions

Good afternoon everyone. We are rapidly approaching tip-off time for tonight's game with the Wisconsin Badgers. Previews can be found here, here, and here. Tonight we will get some answers to our questions about just how good this Illini team can be and whether or not they are ready to take that step towards "being special."

Illinitalk's keys to the game are as follows:

1) The Brian Randle vs. Alando Tucker matchup. Randle has the chance to show that he truly is a lock-down defender as he will have the primary defensive assignment against the Badgers best player. Randle's ability to stay out of foul trouble will be critical. A bonus would be if he could get Tucker in some foul trouble and/or frustrate him to the point where he forces things.

2) Brown and Augustine. Illinois is the only Big 10 team to win at the Kohl Center in Bo Ryan's tenure as Wisky's coach (5 years.). In a very difficult place to play, the leadership and performance of the two seniors will go a long ways towards determining who wins. The team cannot get rattled if things aren't going their way at times or if Wisconsin makes some runs. Dee and Augie have to keep the team focused and playing hard-nosed defense.

3) The Bench. Illinois is a much deeper team due to injury and academic issus that the Badgers have encountered. Hopefully, the Illini can wear the Badgers down by rotating guys in and giving Wisconsin different looks.

4) Fouls and free throws. Illinois needs to be smart and minimze their foul trouble while at the same time making their free throws when they get to the line.

5) ??? needs to step up. Assuming Brown and Augustine both perform the way they are capable, we need someone else to step up. At different times this year, it has been Randle, Pruitt, Smith, Carter, and (on Saturday) McBride. We need at least one of those guys to turn in a great performance tonight or else get solid efforts from all of them as a whole.

Last year, I predicted Illinois would end the Badger's Big Ten home winning streak. Now you might be thinking that was an obvious pick based on the type of team Illinois had last year, but keep in mind that when I made that pick, it was only the early to middle part of the conference season and no one had beaten Wisconsin at home in a conference game in four years. I think I made Chief pretty nervous when I made that pick. Thankfully, it turned out to be correct.

Tonight, it is a little harder to make a prediction. Illinois could win blow out Wisconsin, win or lose a nail biter, or get blown out. However, last year Illinois always seemed to be at their best in the biggest games that meant the most. This game is one of those. A win would be a huge step towards winning the Big Ten title. I think the team will be focused and ready to play. Chief, I know it will make you nervous again if I make an outright prediction so let me just say that right now I have a very good feeling about this game. Let's hope we are all celebrating a big Illini victory tomorrow.

Illinitalk Mailbag
--We have been getting some great emails lately so let me take a moment and answer a few of the questions we have received:

1) National Signing Day for men's basketball for the 2006-2007 Academic Year was November 9th, 2005. Recruits could sign anytime from that date through November 16, 2005. There is also a late signing period that runs from April 12, 2006, through May 17, 2006. For more information check out this information from the NCAA as well as the Collegiate Commissioners Association's National Letter of Intent website.

2) We appreciate those of you who have linked us to your sports- related blogs or websites and we are typically happy to reciprocate. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time for us to get links added but we can definitely do that for those of you who have an interest.

3) We do know some thing about Big Ten football. However, our focus is on all things Illini. For questions related to other teams, there are some great blogs out there that cover virtually every team in the Big Ten and many across the country. If we can get an answer to non-Illini questions, we will but no promises on that one. Speaking of Big Ten Football and National Signing Day's, tomorrow is signing day for Ron Zook and the Illini Football Team's newest recruits. FightingIllini.com will have extensive coverage as discussed here. One of the recruits I am most excited about is Isiah "Juice" Williams and you can read about him in this article from the Daily Herald.

4) BW (and I don't mean Bruce Weber)--Thanks for answering my question about Iowa's defense. That was great information. For those of you who read the column where I wondered just how good Iowa's defense was, here is the answer:
"In response to your latest post, Iowa does indeed have the best defense in the nation statistically speaking. Check out the stats at Ken Pomeroy's site: http://kenpom.com/stats.php. Iowa gives up the fewest points per 100 possessions (81.1) of any team in the nation. Illinois is no slouch themselves, ranking 5th." Great stuff--thanks again BW.

5) Illinois has filed another appeal to the NCAA's ruling about the Chief. Details are here.

Hope that covers all of the most recent email questions. Keep them coming and also feel free to post comments directly under our posts.

Now, let's go whip the Badgers! GO ILLINI!!!

<< Home |

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?