"Offense" Motion-less?

Most college basketball teams would do anything for a record of 22-5, but last year's Illini tinkered with a near perfect season that had this year's group targeted to reach the Final Four again. One key ingredient missing from last year's group could be the reason the Illini have five losses - you be the judge.

Okay, we all know how important last year's stars were to the Illinois men's basketball team: Luther Head, Deron Williams and Roger Powell. Truthfully it's not fair to the current group of Illini players. The talent however is still there, but the ball movement is not.

The past couple of years the Illini basketball team has prided itself on how well they pass and share the basketball. For a large part of the season the Illini were first in the nation with an average of 19.4 assists per game. Pre-season All-American candidate Dee Brown really flourished with the extra passing because, as noted here at Illinboard.com, he's great with rest and when he does not have to shoot the ball with two defenders on him or when the shot clock is winding down.

Let's take a closer look at last year with 39 games played. This is what the "key" players did when it came time to share the basketball:

2004-2005 Illini:

Deron Williams – 264 assists

Luther Head – 150 assists

Roger Powell – 16 assists

Dee Brown – 177 assists

James Augustine – 43 assists

2005-2006 Illini to date:

Dee Brown – 151 assists

Rich McBride – 58 assists

Shaun Pruitt – 12 assists

Brian Randle – 36 assists

James Augustine – 49 assists

·Marcus Arnold – 2 assists

·Chester Frazier – 42 assists

One of the fun things about watching Weber's (motion) teams play is how well they pass the ball and shot the 3-ball, this year that's not happening nearly as much. Not that this group doesn't, but I was in many press conferences last year and heard comments from coaches how unselfish they were, and that's hard to teach. The top two teams in the championship game were one and two all season when it came to sharing the ball. Maybe if this group could make that extra "pass" the Illini in the post season could be something special.

Photo by Matthew Kutz

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