I had the good fortune of attending the first exhibition game of the season for Illini basketball last night at Assembly Hall. It was great to be back in the environment of the 'Hall, that is the first thing I want to say. The Orange Krush was already in full effect, going crazy as always. If you don't know who the Krush are, then check out this hip little ode that was created in their honor (just click on the link): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjJp_17UPOw
That just represents some of the insanity and fun they bring to the 'House of Paign. Well, back to what happened on the court. Overall, the Illini put forth a lot of effort last night, but they appeared to be a little mechanical in running Weber's motion offense. The defense was pretty much lock-down, and looked pretty good. Rebounding-- not a real strong point. Lewis pretty much battled us to even on the boards. Chester Frazier was pretty steady at the point guard slot, but he was only 1 for 6 on free throws. Otherwise he would have been a real stand-out performer. Carlwell looked pretty good on a couple of post up plays in the paint. That guy looks likes he's 7 feet tall, if he's only 6'11". I don't think he'll be redshirting this year. Semrau looked a little timid out there, we'll have to wait and see on the redshirt verdict for him. C J Jackson was pretty much invisible. What's his status? I was hoping he'd be a solid role player this year. Warren Carter looked a bit lacksadaisical out there. He seems to have a ton of talent, I wonder why he's not a star? Meacham and Smith looked a bit out of synch on the floor, but neither looked awful. Still, it was a big margin of victory. However, the team needs to smooth it out a bit, and keep the intensity at the same level, before we start into a busy pre-big ten schedule. It'd be nice to get off to a strong start, before we enter that brutal big ten season.
Overall, though, I'm positive about the team. You can tell Weber has been working them to death on defense, at the expense of offense. He said exactly that in his postgame interview. Overall, he sounded really upbeat about the team. The sign of a great coach-- when dealing with a young team, always maintain a positive attitude.
Anyhow, I thought I'd conclude this message with a look back on one of the greatest games in Illinois basketball history. UI-Arizona, '05 NCAA's. Click and enjoy. And know that we'll be back there again one day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmrvVQFGFlY