Illini Hoops 101

Illinois basketball - what is it really? People from the outside really don't understand and if you don't root for the orange and blue you may never get it.

Let's start with the obvious question. How long have you been a fan? Some have been around for years; others have joined with its recent success. Some of the reasons people give for bleeding the orange and blue are very sincere. Let's take Tom Jones from Rock Island, Illinois. "I became a fan because when I was in high school back in the early 80's I saw Bruce Douglas play at my alma mater and couldn't believe the next year he was playing DI hoops for Lou Henson. I thought that was cool to see. Then I started to see how all the players from the team came from the State of Illinois. That showed me how good the talent level is here," said Jones.

Some of the people I've spoken to stated the probation years and wanting to stay loyal to the school and its players. If you're a long-time fan you will remember the days when things were not so good because of the recruitment of Deon Thomas from Chicago Simeon. Then another devastating blow was when Juan Howard from Chicago said publicly that he would have attended Illinois, but all that made him think twice about it.

Illinois has to be one of the best universities in the country to not win a national title. Back in 1989 they appeared in the Final Four, and in 2005 they reached the Title Game, losing to North Carolina.

The fans have tasted so much success over the years, and want that title in the worst way. Why? Because for years they have seen great players and coaches come through the program.

Jake Fisher from Milan, Illinois had this to say. "Kedric, people don't get it. We live for Illinois basketball in this state. I read all the things people say - why we don't get recruits and why were not having the greatest year. All I know is I want kids to play for Illinois that want to be there and ones that will put on that jersey and play with pride. Coach Weber is a great coach. I feel bad for the guy because everyone that knows him will tell you the same thing - he's a very loyal and down to earth kind of guy. From reading your message board and your stories I want a coach that's not going to get us back in bad graces with the NCAA. Good things come to those who wait."

Whatever reason you root for the orange and blue, it now appears that Weber is trying to get through this season with all the injuries. Rest assured there will be a game when the light comes on and things with this group will start to gel. How do I know that? It has happened every year. Remember your reasons for being a fan.

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