2005 Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball Preview
2005 Illinois Fighting Illini Team Preview
Dee Brown is back and that makes Illinois extremely lucky. Brown was destine to be a top pick in the NBA draft until he broke his right foot in a June pre-draft NBA camp. That accident meant senior guard Brown, who captured Big Ten Player of the Year and first Team All-American honors last year, would be back in Fighting Illini red. The team, that was already losing three top players from last year’s conference Championship team to the professional league, would have been decimated by Brown’s departure. Now they’ve got a fighting chance to win their conference and to once again go deep into the Tournament.
Brown, who knocked down 13.3 points per contest, is joined by returning forward/center James Augustine who ripped away 7.6 rebounds per game while contributing 10.1 points. This tandem possesses both talent and leadership and will form the central core of what will be a very tough Fighting Illini team.
Under Coach Bruce Weber, who has been with the team for two seasons, Illinois has gone 63-9, winning the conference Championship twice and making it to the final NCAA Championship game last year where they lost to North Carolina. Despite losing Luther Head, Roger Powell, and Deron Williams and with them 40.4 PPG, 53% of the team’s scoring and 59% of the club’s assists, Illinois still has the potential to repeat last year’s performance. Warren Carter, Rich McBride, and Brian Randle will have to compensate for the loss of the big three.
Randle, who had a medical redshirt last season due to an angry altercation with a wall, has the potential to be a dynamic force on the court and to make everyone forget about Head, Powell, and Williams. In order to fulfill his potential, Randle, who has always been a defensive whiz, will need to become a go-to scorer, making him an impressive two-way player.
Under Weber and with the leadership of two solid and skilled seniors, Illinois is bound to be fighting all the way into the post season.
For more info on the 2005 Fighting Illini check out the official Illinois athletic site.