BKB Pregame Intel: Illinois Fighting Illini

BKB Pregame Intel: Illinois Fighting Illini

The Fighting Illini stop by Welsh Ryan Saturday afternoon to try to continue their quest for another Big 10 Championship. In their way might be the Northwestern Wildcats, who are looking to break a 3 game losing streak, and who have beaten the Illini at home in the past few years. Here's a look at the Ilini and how they're playing lately...

This isn't the same Illinois team that played for the National Championship last year...
Last year's team's shooting wouldn't have "fallen asleep" for 6 1/2 minutes or allowed their opponent to score 18 unanswered points. This year, the Illini [16-2/2-2] just might be succesptible to runs - against Indiana, they ran out to a 14-3 lead, but then they allowed Indiana to make a run [from the arc] setting the tone for the entire game.

Indiana finally ran the score up and held on to for the win.
"You have to feel proud of your teammates for coming back and playing," said forward James Augustine, [Illinizone.com] "At Iowa we just gave up. Tonight, we didn't give up."
Gone are the big playmakers, the 7 foot center, the guards who swished 3's at will. Gone, too, are the breathless sports reporters covering every little facet of the Illinois game. You've got to dig to find out dirt on this year's team, andits more than just Dee Brown.
Based on a quick review of their Bruce Weber's playing style,
the Illini need 3 scorers to be effective.

But early in the year Illinois basketball was the Dee Brown- James Augustine show, along with a little help from their friends. Not the original Weber game plan, but against Indiana, a third man in the Ilinois attack appeared.

Forward or is he the Center, Shaun Pruitt has apparently emerged as the other big scorer inside, so along with keeping Augustine and Brian Randle away from the basket, you also have to stop Forward Shaun Pruitt inside - the Soph had 17 points in the paint against Indiana

In fact, according to Scout's Illinois basketball guy, John Brumbaugh, the Illini's three big guys have suddenly realized they can score layups and dunks. Illinois had 44 points "in the paint" against Indiana, most off cutters.

They have to, with the sudden fall off of Dee Brown's shooting.

Yes, there's a mysterious "leg problem" that may be affecting Dee Brown. The Daily Herald's Lindsey Wilhite noticed him limping around at the game with Indiana, and he appeared "gimpy" against Michigan [the game before] and all the way back to the Michigan State game when he limped to the bench with 11:54 left.

As Wilhite points out, since that timeout, Brown has shot 10 for 44, a dismal 22.7% shooting record. He missed 8 of 9 against Indiana. He claims its leg cramps - remember he had a stress fracture as a soph. In any case, if he is injured it puts more pressure on Frosh PG Chester Frazier.
You take Dee Brown out of the (Illinois) lineup, it's a different pace and different team,'' Minnesota Coach Dan Monson  - Indy Star
Brown is the latest of the "small guards" who make other team's change their defense.
Purdue's Matt Painter: "If you have quickness like (Brown), and throw that in with his decision-making, you have a pretty good player. When he has an angle, he's going to score the basketball or get fouled in the open court." -- Indy Star
Brown's take on all this?
"I think you always have to play with a little swagger," Illinois' standout senior guard said. "You've got to play hard." -- Indy Star
Statistically, its still the Brown-Augustine scoring show, but don't forget the other starters; Rich McBride [8.6], Randle [8.3] and Shaun Pruitt [6.3 ppg] and supersub Jamar Smith [9 ppg]. McBride and Smith are also capable of hitting 3 pointers - Smith has made over half of his so far this year.
Suspect D?
So is Randle also the answer on the other end of the floor?

Maybe not. Coach Weber has said Randle "stands around too much." The Illini have also started giving up points as Big 10 opponents are edging their completion percentages above the 39% barrier.

The also have trouble handling a transition offense - Indiana scored 10 points off Illinois turnovers, and 9 off fast breaks.

The final words?
Bill Carmody looking ahead to the Fightin Illini, was asked if coming home would help the Wildcats:
I hope so, Mohamed ... is coming around a little bit, now we gotta get Vince [going]
and from the newly emerged big playmaker underneath?

"We shot some bad shots and we let the crowd get into it," Brian Randle said. "It got into our heads. That's not acceptable." -- Chicago Tribune

"We were shut down," Randle said. "For this team to do that, it's just not acceptable." -- Illinizone

Coach Roy's Purple Reign 'Cat'egories:
The Big Gun #11 Dee Brown
15 ppg
Deadeye Dick #40 James Augustine
63.9% shooting
The Bomber Brown*
139 3 point attempts -
34.5% compl
Off the Boards Augustine
8.9 rpg
Charity Stripe #33 Rich McBride
85.7% FT Shooting
Super Sub #31 Jamar Smith
18.9 minutes
9 ppg
Pickpocket Brown
31 season
Helping Hands Brown
5.6 avg
Mr. Defense Augustine
17 Blocks/104 def
Notes: * Sub Jamar Smith completes 52.5% of his treys - Rich McBride has attempted 110 three pointers.

Expected Starters 

#11 Dee Brown [6-0 Sr]
#33 Rich McBride [6-3 Jr]
#55 Shaun Pruitt [6-10 So]
#42 Brian Randle [6-8 RS-So]
#40 James Augustine [6-10 Sr] 14.2

Totals: 52.4
Notes: The Illini average 72.4 ppg against 57.1 for their opponents. They're shooting 45.8% from the floor, 37.2% from the arc. Sometimes Augustine is listed as a forward, and Randle as the center.

Off the Bench
[Have Played in most games, or Averaging 9+ mins]:

Games -

Minutes PPG RPG
#3 Chester Frazier [G 6-2 Fr]
#31 Jamar Smith [G 6-3 Fr]
#41 Warren Carter [F 6-9 Jr]
#44 Marcus Arnold [F 6-8 RS-Jr]
#25 Calvin Brock [G 6-5 RS Fr]

Notes: Frazier is the next point guard and is Brown's primary sub.
The Illinois bench plays a lot of minutes - and makes rebounds.

Challenges for the Wildcats:
  • Stop Augustine underneath - we don't need his dunks to get the Illinois crowd [that will be at Welsh Ryan Saturday] into the game.
  • Stop Brown on the perimeter He can put a dagger into your hear.
  • Stop Pruitt underneath see the first bullet
  • Stop Randle underneath see the first bullet
  • Did I mention stopping Brown and Augusting and Pruitt?
  • Defend our Home Court
This is a game where NU's motion offense, and 1-3-1 matchup zone just might slow the pace down to where we could stay in a position to win.

Remember too that the last time Illinois showed up at Welsh-Ryan they won.

Game Starts at 3:30 PM - Wildcat Time

Television: WCIU in Chicago/ESPN+ - Craig Coshun and bob Ford

  • WGN AM 720 , with Dave Eanet and Dave Kaplan [Assisted by "Tiger Jim" Lucas]
  • NUSports
  • WIND-AM 560 - Illinois Sports Network with Brian Barnhart, Jim Grabowski and Steve Kelly
Gametracker: NU Sports
You can also Chat in the New Purple Reign Free Chat room

Statistics from the University of Illinois official site
Links are to the original story source of the quotes
You can send your comments or "back door" information
to Coach Roy
or on AIM: CoachRoy74
Go Cats
Beat 'em All!
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Copyright 2006 by PurpleWildcats.com/Purple Reign
Quotes Copyright 2006 by original holder as noted

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