||11-11-2006 12:43 AM
Alrighty, everyone post your fav. team's outlook/preview for this season. Here's mine for Illinois.
No one really knows how good we can be this season. It all hinges on what players step up this season. If Randle, McBride, and Carter can all step it up as veterans on this squad, we'll be tough to beat. Here's my player by player break down.
Brian Randle - Great upside. Incredibly athletic, great defender (the best in the Big 10), and very good in transition. Question remains is if he's developed an outside shot; if he has he's one of the best players in the nation, period.
Rich McBride - Out for 4 games due to DUI. But he'll be a HUGE factor in our offense. Marksman from outside who when in the zone is one of the best shooters in not only the Big 10; but in the entire nation. Needs to show he can take it to the rack and not rely on his jumper all the time. He's been a disappointment so far in Champaign, so let's see if he can go out on a high note.
Warren Carter - Will this be his breakout year? I think it will be. He's been incredible in the Preaseason. Knocking down outside shots, banging inside, and strong on defense. He's the X-Factor for our teams success IMO.
Jamar Smith - The freshman sensation. A ringer from the outside who's shown flashes of being able to drive to the basket. Shot hasn't fallen in the Preaseason but he'll come around. Much like McBride when he's on, he's unguardable from the outside. Needs to step up and put up some points this season in a starting role.
Chester Frazier - My favorite player on this team. Most improved player during the offseason IMO. Nasty on defense and incredibly quick with and without the ball. Developed his outside game and has shown the ability to knock down the 3. And the biggest improvement is his willingness to drive the rack. IMO could really breakout this season and be a 2nd Team All-Big 10 Selection. The most promising part about Chester; he's only going to get better.
Shaun Pruitt - Another question mark. He's got the tools to be a beast on the block. Good size, strength, and post moves. Very good rebounder and shot blocker. Gained a ton of experience last year in the starting lineup. Another potential breakout player this season. But can he step up and produce?
Trent Meacham - Transfer from Dayton. Marksman from the outside and can fill it up. The question for him is if he can run this offense (ie passing and keeping the motion going). He's got talent, but I think he's still a year away from producing at a high level.
Marcus Arnold - I had high hopes for this kid coming in from Illinois State. He's very talented but for some reason he just can't put it together, and this year looks no different. Frustrating to watch him miss layup after layup after layup. Showed some promise as a player who could produce for us down low but his consistency is an issue. Will need to step up as a Senior this season.
Calvin Brock - Talented much like Arnold but just can't put it together either. Although he's only a Sophomore. Kid's got potential as a scorer and passer he just needs to get some confidence. Made some great plays in the Preseason and made some bad ones. Still though, a talent that if he works on his game, he'll be a valuable player to our program.
CJ Jackson - Needs experience. Looks lost out on the court at times. But he's a load to handle on the block. If he works on his game and develops, he'll remind me a lot of a portlier Wayne Simeon, without the outside game.
Brian Carlwell - Might RS this season. But man is this kid talented. Long, athletic, and smart. Needs some polishing on both ends, but Webbie is one of the best talent developers in the nation. So I'm anxious to see what Webbie can do with this kid. A ton of talent for Brian.
Richard Semrau - Another bright looking young player and an incoming Freshman. Incredibly athletic, runs the floor well, and finishes around the basket. Has the makings of an outside game as well. Needs to work on his defense but that'll come during the offseason next year. IMO he's been one of the most impressive players on the court this preseason for us. Should not RS, we need his athleticism to log some minutes. Future is very bright though in Champaign.
Season Outlook: I say we'll finish 3rd in the Big 10 (at the worst). Possibly higher. If we can put it all together, we're a top 15 or so team in the nation. I know what I've seen from my boys and I know what they can do. It's just a matter of walking the walk. Without a doubt BAM's biggest test yet as our HC. I expect kind of a slow start b/c we're going to have to find our niche our there, but once we get rolling we'll be fun to watch. Up and down the floor (like the Dee days).
I'll say a Sweet 16 appearance and I'll make an early prediction that we win the Big 10 Tourny at the UC.