2006 Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball Preview
2006 Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball Predictions
Guard Dee Brown’s four years at Illinois are over and the Fighting Illini will have to redefine themselves. They need a new leader and scorer. Along with the loss of Brown, the team also saw forward James Augustine, an unrivaled force on offense and defense, leave. The good news is that coach Bruce Weber’s (89- 16 in 3 years with Illinois) team is working overtime to be the best in the Big 10.
Will the next Dee Brown please stand up? Sophomore Chester Frazier (1.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 20.8 FG%, 50.0 FT%) and transfer/walk-on Trent Meacham will vie for the point guard spot. Neither is stellar, but if Frazier can find discipline in his play flashes of Brown will be evident. At shooting guard, both senior Rich McBride (10.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 40.4 FG%, 88.0 FT%) and sophomore Jamar Smith (8.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 47.0 FG%, 70.4 FT%) return with their keen shooting strokes.
Augustine was one of a dozen players ever in the Big 10 to score more than 1,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds. Forward Shaun Pruitt (6.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 52.4 FG%, 48.4 FT%), if he can keep from foul trouble, can step into the low-post, kicking in needed points and rebounds. Brian Randle (8.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, 51.9 FG%, 59.3 FT%) will get a frontcourt spot and seniors Warren Carter and Marcus Arnold will also play upfront.
Last season, Bruce Weber and Illinois (27- 7 overall and 11- 5 Big Ten) went to the NCAA Tournament with high hopes and were eliminated in the second round 67- 64 by Washington. In the past, Weber has stressed defensive toughness and offensive push. He’ll do the same this year but without the stars on board. Still, this team has talent, depth and potential.
Illinois is still one of the best in the Big 10 and the nation. And although they will be at the Big Dance, they won’t get too deep into the tournament. This is a year of adjustments and growth.
If you want more info on the 2006 Illinois Fighting Illini College basketball team check out the NCAA's official basketball team page of the program or check out some rival previews from Maddux Sports of schools like the Wisconsin Badgers and Purdue Boilermakers.