For The Illini, The Dance Is Over
Posted by sportsmaven on March 17, 2007
The dance is over…in more ways than one. With this week’s announcement that Chief Illiniwek will no longer do his dance, the only others dancing are the Illinois men’s basketball team. After tonight’s 54-52 loss to my alma mater, Virginia Tech, the dance, the game, and the season are now over. The Illini finished with a very respectable 23-12 record, amazing considering what this team has been through this season. Injuries, suspensions, inconsistent play, the Illini had virtually nothing go their way this season, but yet they scratched out 23 wins this season. A big 23 wins when you have no go to guy on your team, no clutch shooters, no consistent floor leader, and no player on your team that scares the opponent.
(AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)
This has been Illinois problem all season. Illinois was up 13 late in tonight’s game. They had all the momentum, the mojo was working. They virtually won this game. Then Virginia Tech started pressing the Illini, and Illinois looked like a 6th grade girls baskeball team, turning the ball over with bad cross-court passes and stupid turnovers. Illinois then appeared to get more and more rattled with each possession, but they still had a 10 point lead with 4:28 left in the game.
But not one Illinois player stepped up with 4:28 left in the game, not a single player. Anointed team leader F Warren Carter certainly didn’t. G Rich McBride didn’t. F Brian Randle definitely didn’t. Randle’s missed free throws and his inability to make a basket from less than one foot away from the rim ensured that the evening and the game belonged to the Hokies of Virginia Tech. By the way, Shaun Pruitt, are you still on this team? You did a disappearing act for this game (6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 personal fouls in 20 minutes of play)
Like I have said in past posts about the Illini basketball team, this Illini team will be in trouble next year too if they don’t get G Jamar Smith back from his legal issues. Illinois recruiting class for next season is just ok, not sensational like it would have been with Eric Gordon donning the orange and blue. If Coach Bruce Weber and his coaching staff can’t find a go to player, a consistent scorer, and overall team consistency, Illinois will not be getting any benefit of the doubt if they are sitting on the bubble next season. That currency was cashed in this season and they blew it with 4:28 seconds of lackluster, sloppy play at a time they could least afford to be sloppy. Well, there’s always next year, but be careful for what you wish for…….