We have been spoiled. Since 2000, we have seen the Illini as a power house in the NCAA. Unfortunately, that time might be coming to an end soon. Programs go up and down, and unless we get it together, we might be headed down. I’m going to try to keep a positive attitude, but it is going to be hard to undo the bad things that happened this year. A lot of people want to blame Weber and want to see him leave, but that is not the answer. I think he needs some time to get comfortable recruiting for a Big Ten team before we need to reevaluate. 2004-05 is still looming over him and he needs to get out from under that to see what he can really do with out all of the pressure. I think he has some strong players coming in this year even with the players he lost to other teams. I’d like to see what he can do over the next 4 or 5 years before we tell him to pack it in. Is that too much? Maybe, but I believe in his coaching skills, so I’d hate to lose that just because he supposedly can’t recruit. HE has mediocre players good and he has made good players great. I want to give him time. Here are my best case scenarios for next year:
1) One of the freshman steps up. Quinton Watkins, Demetri McCarney, Mike Tisdale, and Bill Cole are the names to get familiar with for next year. McCarney probably has the best shot since he is the only 4 star in the bunch. This is an important class for Weber since Rose and Gordon were lost. If he can turn one of these guys in to a star, all will be forgotten.
2) The guards get it together. My friends give me a hard time for supporting these guys, but I think one of these guys can turn into a star. I think Frazier has the best chance since he seems to be growing the most, but he needs to develop a shot. Meacham has one year under his built, but he often looks uncomfortable out there. Brock got minutes this year and I think he could be something special if he also develops a shot. Smith…I don’t even want to hypothesize.
3) Randle needs to make a HUGE leap. Pruitt is already a strong player and will probably be the go to guy early in the season, but he is not going to become a 16-18 point player next year. Randle can be that guy. His supposed athleticism is a gift, but he has not proven that he is a complete player. His shot doesn’t fall often, he fouls out way too easy, and he often disappears when you need him the most. I hope he puts the nagging injuries behind him and works his butt off this summer.
See you in November…