Following the loss to the Michigan State Spartans on Friday, Head Coach Bruce Weber sent another message to his 4th seeded tournament team. "I've been pushing this team for a long time now. Once the tournament starts - if we don't play, we go home."
Bottom line is this - some feel the Illini may have gotten the "shaft". My take is this – don't worry about how others are ranked. The selection committee didn't put it to Illinois. According to Weber what was done last year for any team shouldn't have anything to do with the current year.
Don't like the seed and location? Here's how that could have been avoided: you don't lose at home to Penn State; you beat Michigan (a team that didn't make the NCAA tournament) at home; and you might want to win one game in the Big Ten Tournament. All of those things Illinois had control of, not the selection. I can assure you, take care of those things and Illinois is a two or three seed.
Weber stated that Illini fans travel well so that should help the Illini when they travel to San Diego. "We have a great fan base out there so we should see a lot of orange." If the Illini want to prove now that the new season is here, the following things must take place: First, the free throw line. The Illini need to shoot better than 65%. Good teams reach the 70% mark. Second, players like Rich McBride, Chester Frazier, Jamar Smith and Marcus Arnold must be "difference" makers. They are no longer first year players. It's late in the season and with Weber on the bench I like Illinois' chances with any team. Third, one player that must stay on the floor and provide some offense is athletic wing man Brian Randle. It's great he can shut down his opponent, but getting ten points and six to eight rebounds per game is a must. Last but not least, Dee Brown will have to have his shooting stroke going.
The team feeds off him; when Dee is making shots they become easier for the rest of the team.
Stay tuned for press conference updates here at Illiniboard.com.