April 5, 2005
Bad Ending To A Great Season
Illinois became mortal during the wrong game.
40 three point shots ain't gonna get it done when you only make 12 of them. They took some questionable shots and got down early but they came back, they just couldn't find the bottom of the net at the end of the game. It's not a fun way to end the season, but they did lose to a very good basketball team and Illinois should be happy with all they accomplished.
I know I'll remember this season for a long, long time. It was one helluva ride all of the way. A National Runner-Up still gets some hardware to put in the trophy case and a banner to hang from the ceiling. Plus, Illinois proved a lot of critics wrong by making it that far. With all that the team accomplished, it's impossible to look at the season as anything other than spectacular. Along the way, Illinois basketball got a ton of media coverage and exposure that should help the program in the future. Also, they probably picked up a few fans along the way. As my cynical self always says, I'm sure that a lot of people will go back to their old habits of apathy toward Illinois sports but some will surely stay.
I hope that Deron WIlliams stays his last year to take another shot at a national championship. He should be a lottery pick if he goes, but he'll be lower than might be expected since he was "only" third team All-American. His mother (who played D-1 basketball herself) will probably encourage him to stay. Hopefully, getting so close will whet his appettite for winning a championship. If he doesn't the Illini will still be a good team next year with Brown and Augustine still around. Brian Randle will be back next season after he red-shirted this year with a broken hand. Warren Carter showed some good signs all year and Rich Mcbride should be more consistant after he practices his shot this summer. As for Head, Powell, Ingram, and Smith, they gave us 4 great years and should be awfully proud of it. We should all be proud of this team.
As a side note, the east-coast bias in the sports media will probably get a little bigger next year since North Carolina beat 3 Big Ten teams in a row to win it all.
Now that the NCAA basketball season is over, I don't know what I'm ever going to write about on this thing. I don't follow baseball close enough to count on that for inspiration. I guess I'll just have to find something interesting to do all day :P