Kevin, an Illini grad but a Duke fan, was nice enough to send us his
thoughts on the game and some notes on the DePaul game. Thanks Kevin!
As an alum of U of Illinois and as a die-hard Duke fan, I had no problems
choosing to wear my grungy Blue Devils hat to a game in the heart of Illini
country. I am slowly making my alma mater my Number 2 team (thanks Lou
Henson for "retiring" after my graduation date). Unfortunately, I thought
Lon Krueger was a better coach than to allow Frankie Williams to shoot the
Illini out of a potential win. Why Corey Bradford didn't step-up more in
the second half is beyond me. Bradford dominated games in the Big Ten
Tourney last year.
With a huge size advantage down low Illinois shot way too many threes; I
don't think Duke had an answer for the post play of Marcus Griffin, Victor
Chuckwudebe, or Brian Cook. Shane Battier held his own down low on defense
but not a whole lot else was there (ie Boozer, Sanders,
Christiansen/Laimbeer). What surprised me about Shane's game was the amount
of contact he was able to initiate and not commit a lot of fouls. I looked
up at the scoreboard on Shane's second foul and only 1:30 was left in the
game! Not bad having taken charges and blocked shots.
I definitely enjoyed the play of both Jason Williams and Mike Dunleavy.
Jason made some fantastic drop-offs on the break early on, but made some bad
decisions later on driving to the hole with his head down. Mike D made some
great hustle plays and crisp passes and had nice finishes on the break. The
program listed him at only 200 lbs. I would love to see his game two years
from now with another 25 pounds of muscle. Too bad he picked up a couple of
cheap fouls courtesy of the Big 10/11's finest (Tom Rucker and Ed
Hightower). I also liked the post play on the offensive end from Nick
Horvath; I read a lot about him when he was a recruit and his outside
shooting prowess, so this was impressive. I recall reading about a drill he
put himself through for three point shots where he would attempt to hit 25
shots in a short amount of time (1 to 2 mins). Does this sound familiar or
I am I imagining it?
Coach K definitely made some great time out calls down the stretch. He was
able to play the crowd perfectly; the very loud, very pro-Illini crowd had
the wind taken out of its sails on almost every time out and was much more
subdued and silent after play began again. This was a great experience for
the young players in this environment. I also liked how he kept the ball in
Chris Carrawell's hands in the final minute. This was very symbolic of
Coach K saying "We go where Chris will take us." CC hit two big throws to
close out the ball game. In my book, CC doesn't have to put any coffee
down; coffee IS for closers ONLY!
What I didn't realize was 16 attempts from the line for CC, WOW!
Now to an observation about a player I despise on the Illini, #22 Lucas
Johnson. Maybe I am biased against him because he and his high school team
took out my high school alma mater (Fenwick) with one Corey Maggette in the
1998 Illinois State Class AA Quaterfinals. Corey, definitely flustered by
Johnson's theatrics, played a horrible game that night (Put that coffee
down!) shooting about 5-26 from the floor. Something, though, struck me
about Johnson's game that night. He hustles and makes plays that win
ballgames, but he is cheap and dirty. Maybe I am biased, but did that come
across on the telecast tonight? I saw numerous plays tonight where he took
charges and blocked shots (like Shane) but then there were shoves and flops
and dirty play (like Rodman). Maybe upon review of the video tape I will
think otherwise, but I would not be surprised if I saw him collecting his
teeth off the floor on SportsCenter some night this year.
Now for a little background for the De Paul game this weekend. Again I have
to go back to the 1998 Illinois High School scene to make some points.
Maggette and my Fenwick Friars squared off against Quentin Richardson's
Whitney Young Dolphins in the secong game of the City - Suburban Shootout
double-header. Corey and Quentin played to a draw that night each with 28
points and "Q" out-boarding Corey 18 to 14, but Whitney took that ballgame
by 2 or 3 points. Those two were clearly the best ball players that night
(and we already know what Corey and "Q" are capable of on the NCAA level),
yet Frank Williams who played a so-so game in the opener of the double
header was the eventual Mr. Basketball in Illinois for 1998 (you saw tonight
what I saw that night out of Williams). In my opinion Richardson was most
worthy of that award. "Q" lead his team to the City and State titles that
year. He is, pound for pound, the best rebounder in the country and has an
ability to find a way to win. Note: "Q" is not bigger than Corey but will
probably be listed in the program as 6'6" (generous). Don't look at the
poor Blue Demon performance last year against the Blue Devils as barometer
of this weekend's game. You are in for a treat watching this guy's game!
If "Q" stays another year (unlikely), De Paul could be on the brink of big
return to big time hoops (if they stay off of probation WINK WINK NUDGE
NUDGE) with a huge recruiting class coming in next year. This is a team not
to look past - - Very athletic and somewhat disciplined. Another nice early
December ballgame to build upon.
Another player to keep an eye on is Paul MacPherson. He has an eye opening
45 inch vertical and he is only 6'3" or 6'4"; he was (I believe)the Junior
College player of the year last year as well. Also, watch out for some big
post play out of Stephen Hunter. I saw him play against Corey and Fenwick
in the 1998 State Regionals (again, I know!) and he has improved a lot since
then. Pat Kennedy also compares a point guard (Kenny Burno?)he has to Wojo.
Key player missing: Lance Williams who broke his foot three days into
practice this fall; his prescence down low was probably missed in the loss
to Texas on Friday. Don't read too much into the poor game by "Q" against
Texas(5 points) because he had an adverse reaction to pain caused by molar
I abolutely love what you guys have put together on this site and I check in
frequently during each day! Keep up the terrific work!
Kevin Biebel ("Illini Kevin")
P.S. I am looking forward to next week's Great 8 at the U.C. (Go SinSinati!)
and hope that the Devils make it back to this neck of the woods again soon!