The early season has been nothing short of a line-up roller coaster for the Illini basketball team. Let's do a quick run-down of the personnel adversity that the team has faced this year:
-Rich McBride suspended for the first four games due to a DUI
-Jamar Smith's high ankle sprain in the first game; it pretty much kept him side-lined until the Bradley game, and even then, he had to sit out the Arizona game due to re-occurring soreness
-Brian Randle's abdominal/groin muscle tear, and subsequent surgery, that has kept him out since game 1; he's only now returning to the line-up, and saw 16 minutes of action against UIC at the United Center
-Chester Frazier's severe foot injury that has hobbled him since the Arizona game
-Sean Pruitt's chipped bone in his hand, which happened in the Arizona game; He's been playing with a huge cast on his hand ever since
-Richard Semrau's chest contusion that turned into a serious infection which had to be removed by surgery; He's out indefinitely, and the phrase "medical redshirt" has been uttered by the local media publications (The News Gazettee, to be specific)
If you count those up, that adds up to no less than SIX significant personnel situations for the Illini. And this is a team that ALREADY lost its top two players from last season, in Dee Brown and James Augustine. So where does that leave the team, as it heads into a week of practice and final exams, prior to the final games of the pre-Big Ten Season?
Well, it seems like the team has finally made it over the injury hump. Aside from Rich Semrau's extended recovery, everyone should be pretty much back and healthy by next Sunday's game against Belmont. That being said, the coaches will have to keep a close eye on Brian Randle, as he is still stretching out from surgery recovery, and will need to be brought along at a reasonable, if not slow, pace. Also, not sure how nagging of an injury that Pruitt's bone chip will be. But at least they'll all be suiting up and playing.
So what is the starting line-up going to look like? Here's what I think it will look like come Big Ten season:
PG- Chester Frazier; Back-up- Trent Meacham; Out in Cold: CJ Jackson
SG- Rich McBride; Back-up- Jamar Smith
SF- Brian Randle; Back-up- Calvin Brock
PF- Warren Carter; Back-up- Marcus Arnold
C - Sean Pruitt; Back-up- Brian Carlwell
Now, keep in mind, all five of those back-ups will probably see significant playing time, especially Meacham, Smith, and Brock. But Weber's going to have to pick a starting five, and his best option right now are the five I listed above-- at least that's my opinion. What does everyone else think? Well, I'd be interested to hear y'all's opinions.