Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Key Victory

Last night's win over Minnesota may have been expected by some but the Illini can't take anything for granted this year. This win was critical if they were to keep themselves in position to tie for the conference title, avoid having to play on Thursday at the Big Ten tournament, and keep themselves in the running for a 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. So you could understand if the team might have been feeling a little bit of pressure last night. If they were, they sure didn't play like it.

This was a good all-around victory for the Illini. Dee and James may be been a little nervous for Senior Night at the Assembly Hall, but as the Trib says, they crashed the Gopher's Senior Night party. Augie's performance may have been his best of the year as he nearly got a triple double, which is virtually unheard of for a post player. Just goes to show how multi-talented he is. I think we will see him at the next level in some role. As for Dee, he too had a very good all-around game and seems to have gotten his shooting a little bit back on track.

The bench came through for the second game in a row with big baskets and good defense. My only question is what was going on with Warren Carter. To my knowledge he did not get into the game and the announcers never addressed it. Anyone out there know?

Positives that came out of this game were the ability to score some points and shooting over 50% for one of the few times this season. We will need these types of performances during the post-season, especially the runs that the Illini went on at different times. Not sure what to say about the defense--it was the first time an opponent has shot better than 50% on the Illini this year but at the same time, the defense clamped down and kept the Gophers from scoring for several possessions at a time. Call this one a push defensively.

Now it is time for the Illini to cheer on the Northwestern Wildcats tonight as they try to upset the Ohio State Buckeyes in Evanston. Just this once, let me say "Go Purple!"

Finally, a big Happy Birthday to the Illinette, who will be one year old tomorrow! I can't believe it has already been a year--time sure flies. Until later, GO ILLINI!

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