For those who have played the game of basketball or even golf, you know sometimes when you get in what today's athletes call "the zone" - nothing can stop you. NBA's greatest player of all time Michael Jordan once said, "It seems like you're shooting in a garbage can; the hoop looks that big." I'm sure January 5th that's how Illinois guard Dee Brown felt.
Dee Brown himself was as modest as they come after that night. Why? Because he knows it's a team game and for a stretch during the second half you could see him trying to get his teammates involved. Every sport highlight that night from ESPN, FOX and I'm sure your local news coverage gave Dee his props. ESPN's analyst Mike Francello earlier in the day had taken Brown off his All-American list, but that night put him back on it. Boy how the world turns.
At the next game Saturday, January 7th (just two days later), Brown was a step slow on offense and defense. Just as the basketball hoop seemed as big as a garbage can earlier, that day it may have seemed like the cup on the 9th green. "Today we just couldn't find our rhythm on offense or defense," said Brown. Most will say it was a typical Big Ten road game - Illini fans cried foul but it never seemed to happen. "When you're on the road, let's be honest, you're not going to get calls like that," senior James Augustine said. Brown, being the class of college seniors right now, never once complained to officials about being hit on the arm when he released his jump shots; not once did he complain about the contact driving to the rim. Why not? Because Brown is a competitor and hopefully the other players on the team will follow his lead.
No one likes to lose, but it's a part of sports. The Illini must learn how to finish games and take them when they are given to you. Take your hat off to the Iowa Hawkeyes - but the bottom line is Iowa was trying to give the Illini the game. Former Iowa Hawkeye Kevin Skillet stated, "Iowa just got Illinois on a day when nothing would fall for them; Iowa's defense still gave Illinois open looks. Illinois would have lost to a lot of teams Saturday shooting that way."
When the Illini take on Michigan Saturday, if Dee Brown gets the Illini back on the win column the sting by the black and gold Hawkeyes won't hurt as bad. Just remember, Brown right now is Illinois basketball and can't be an All-American one day and be overrated the next. For all those sports writers that think that, all I can say is - wow!