The question was posed on the -ish (the reclusive Illiniboard spinoff forum comprised of posters from years ago, as opposed to the idiots left on the IlliniHQ and InsideIllini message boards): what are your expectations for Illinois basketball over the next five years?
The '99-'00 to '05-'06 run could, and arguably should, be replicated.
A couple of Big Ten titles and being in the mix for it every year, or at least close to every year.
Consistently a top four seed.
Consistently having a team good enough to have Final Four aspirations, making it at least once, hopefully more. Even in the best long-term run in the post-Wooden era, Duke only made it half the time and that's an extreme example. But being in the Sweet 16 more often than not and consistently being in that mix usually means you'll occasionally break through like we did in '05 and damn near did in '01.
Rarely, if ever, outside the Top 25.
Perhaps as important as any of this, consistently send players to the NBA. Why is this as important as how many games and championships won? Several reasons:
1. How useless would a school be if it never sent people onto professional success in their field? If the U of I's engineering school wasn't producing good engineers, would it be considered worth a ****? Of course not. Should a Top 20 basketball program be considered all that different? Isn't a coach of a Top 20 program failing his players a little bit if they aren't going to the NBA? I'm not saying this is the case with Illinois because it's been four years since we had anyone who had a real chance to go pro, but with the talent we have and hopefully will continue to have, we should start producing NBA players somewhat regularly.
2. It obviously helps recruiting immensely.
3. Think of how much fun it is to watch Deron as a pro. Well, aside from Luther and Cook as role players, that's all we've really had since Anderson/Gill. Now imagine, 5-6 years from now, if we also have McCamey, Davis, Richardson, Paul, Richmond, Head and Leonard in the NBA. Odds are strong that not all will be in the Association, but I'll bet, say, four of them are. Not only will that mean we had some really f-cking good teams, but there'll be that many more Illini in the league to root for and that many more Illini in the league our staff can flaunt while recruiting.
Bertrand came back from his knee injury too soon initially.
Just got back from the game. Kind of a sloppy performance tonight, though it was good to see them turn up the screws defensively when the offense sputtered a bit in the 2nd half.
Brandon Paul....unreal. Kinda ran out of gas, but that's fine.
I don't know if this team will finish with a better record than last year. But last year's team overachieved to get that record to begin with, and this year...it's just so much more fun to watch. Through two exhibitions and the first two regular season games, we're averaging 89 points, as opposed to 70 last year against similar competition.
If I could, I'd put lots of money on McCamey leading the Big Ten in assists and Mike Davis leading the Big Ten in rebounds. (I know, not a huge stretch considering how close they both were last year.) Davis is a man possessed on the glass this year and Demetri is in such better shape and clearly loves his new toys- Paul, Richardson, a more uptempo offense- that he has to work with.
This team needs to be more consistent on defense and has to get the ball down low more in the half court offense. Really need to get these things settled before Big Ten play starts. That said, another fun game to watch. Feels good to have a team that can score 49 points in a half.
While I agree that this team needs to be more composed defensively, I do not think that is something that this team will specialize in this season. We are an offense-heavy team right now, which will probably keep us from toppling the top teams of the Big Ten (Mich St and Purdue). I am not saying that they can't improve, but the way we look right now, its going to be a really fun season and probably a decent run in both the Big Ten and NCAA tourneys. This team lacks the senior leadership that made the previous successful Illini teams (05-06) so good. If they can find consistent leadership from one of the juniors, McCamey, they can be a very dangerous team. Also, the 2010-11 recruiting class is disgusting, so this should it should be a lot of fun in Champaign for years to come...for basketball at least.