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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2011-12 BIG Basketball Preview: Illinois

Brandon Paul will be All Big 10 this year. Mark it down.
Head Coach: Bruce Weber – 193-86 (.692)
Lost:  G Demetri McCamey, C Mike Tisdale, F Mike Davis, F Bill Cole, G/F Jereme Richmond
Returning: G Brandon Paul (Jr), G DJ Richardson (Jr), C Meyers Leonard (So), F Tyler Griffey (Jr), G Crandall Head (So), G Joe Bertrand (RS So)
New faces: PG Tracy Abrams(58), C Nnanna Egwu(97), SF Michael Henry(39), PF Mike Shaw(59), SF Devin Langford, C Ibrahima Djimde, G Brad Maniscalco (transfer)

Preview: The Fighting Illini lost four seniors who made up the core of their team the past four seasons as well as the highly intriguing G/F Jereme Richmond who declared for the NBA draft but was not selected.  Now it’s time for Juniors Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson to step up. As dysfunctional as the team was last season I think most Illini fans will agree with me when I say the team ran more smoothly when these two were on the floor. Both can go nuts from 3 on any given night though improving consistency from long range should be a point emphasis. Paul is the more dynamic player and Weber will probably look to use him as the center of the offense utilizing his playmaking ability. The team will hope Tyler Griffey can add some strength in order to help him bang more down low and sophomore seven-footer Myers Leonard will need to improve by leaps and bounds as he couldn’t have been more raw last season.  The incoming talent is really incredible but if they don’t gel better than last season’s senior class Bruce Weber’s time in Champaign will end before their graduation. It’s NCAA Tournament or bust for this team.
Shot in the dark at the starting 5:
PG Brandon Paul
G DJ Richardson
F Tyler Griffey
F Mike Shaw
F Nnanna Egwu
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