I got my first chance to watch the Illini on Friday night and here are my impressions. Considering it has been a hard luck few months with the recruiting woes and the loss of Smith and Randle to injury, I think this team looks good. This could easily be a fun team to watch or a difficult team to watch. It is a blessing and a curse that we don’t have that one go to guy. Instead of everyone watching to see what Dee brown does, we have a team that will struggle to find their identity. We are making our share of early season mistakes but the defense looks really good and the offense looks better than I thought. Here is where I see the players at this point:
Chester Frazier: I like Frazier because you need guys on your team that give energy, but he makes too many mistakes. He is like an out of control Dee Brown.
Trent Meacham: Impressed. He is the anti-Frazier. He handles the ball well, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, passes the ball effectively, and shoots well. For a short, skinny white guy, he is not afraid to take the ball to the basket. We will see how Big 10 play goes.
Calvin Brock: I’m glad he is getting minutes. His shot looks good and he looks much more comfortable than he did last year. I think the injuries have allowed him to prove he deserves minutes.
Shaun Pruitt: Seems to have taken a step back. He really needs to be a force but seems like he is not all there yet.
Warren Carter: Seems to have made quantum leaps forward from last year. He has the air of senior leadership around him. Unfortunately, he has been getting into foul trouble a lot recently which does not bode well for Big 10 play.
Richard Semrau and Brian Carlwell: Seem overmatched early even against mid-major opponents. I will need to see more.
Chris Hicks and CJ Jackson: When McBride, Randle , and Smith come back, they will most likely not be seeing a lot of time. I’m glad they are getting it in now.
Marcus Arnold: I expected a lot from him when he came over from ISU, but he just looks old right now. We need are inside game to have a major presence, and he is not fitting the bill.
I saw we also won this afternoon against Florida A&M, so we are on our way to making our name heard in the Big 10. Hopefully, McBride will not upset the chemistry this team has already built up.