Thursday, January 07, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I spent New Year's in the frozen woods of the north, isolated from Bowl games and far from the United Center. But although I missed the Gonzaga game, I've heard enough about it to know that the Illini played really well for good chunk of the game. And lost a heartbreaker.

I did catch the Iowa game this week, and so, with what we've seen so far, I have some (somewhat belated) New Year's resolutions for Bruce Weber and his team. And they don't look that much different that typical college student resolutions.
  1. Stop procrastinating. Like any college students, this Illini team has a thing for putting off the work that needs to be done. Why score in the first few minutes of the game when you have the whole second half? And why score at the beginning of the second half when you will still have 15 or so minutes for that later? That procrastination philosophy needs to end. A strong start will definitely help them earn a better grade come March.
  2. Maintain your energy. Get enough sleep, so you have the energy to study. And defend. The dirty work that isn't nearly as much fun. As a team, they need to step up the energy on the defensive end of the court.
  3. Don't drop the ball. With assignments or classes. Or literally. The turnovers...especially when the ball goes to where someone is supposed to be and isn't...or through someone's hands. These kids need to resolve to stop. Now.
  4. Make sure your friends don't starve. In other words, make sure they stay well-fed. In this case, I'm thinking of the big guys inside, who often have a size advantage on the opponents. Note to the Illini guards: Make sure Mike and Mike get the ball early and often and all game long. That will help you all stay healthier.
  5. Don't lose sight of the long-range. College students often focus on the short-term, and miss what's happening in the long-range. As in the 3-point shot on the other team. Last season, the Illini had the best defense in the conference. This season, 3-point shooters are practically playing H-O-R-S-E against the Illini defense.

If the Illini, especially the freshman, embrace these basic resolutions, the conference season will be much more manageable. Iowa was a good game to shake off the loss in Chicago, but most of the Big Ten will be a bit tougher.

These boys have great potential, and they are fun to watch. Not always easy to watch, but definitly fun. 2010 is off to a respectable start. Here's to a great conference season!

Go Illini!


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