Head Coach Bruce Weber is telling us right now not to think the 2005-2006 Fighting Illini will almost run the table the way last year's group did. However, he knows there's enough talent there to get the job done and keep the Illini right in the mix of things.
Two years ago the Illini struggled with its new coach and motion offense. By now you've all read stories and articles about certain players not buying into what Weber was teaching. Then one night in Bloomington, Indiana, at one time for one half Weber had five guys "buy" into it. The remainder of that year and last year was the coming out party for the National Coach of the Year.
This year Weber has a new group that is young and without a lot of playing time, so there may be some bumps and bruises along the way. "Last year we didn't even have to teach the drills,'' Weber said. "Now, we have to teach the drills from scratch."
Weber is a tremendous coach. He's been known to get good players and turn them into great players; and when given great players turn them into first round NBA draft picks. This year he will have a combination of both. Senior point guard Dee Brown has the potential to be a lottery pick if he has the type of season that's expected of him. Two newcomers that most fans were really concerned about (shooting guard Jamar Smith and point guard Chester Frazier) may end up in the starting line-up before it's all said and done.
When or if this group struggles at times and you start to worry about whether the basketball team will end up on the downslide, find a friend that taped that Indiana game a couple years ago and trust that, in the end, Weber will adapt and adjust to his new team and players.