Will The Real Fighting Illini Basketball Team Please Stand Up?

Sometimes this job is easy. Sometimes it’s really, really hard.

Take the Illinois men’s basketball team for instance. Many people are saying that the Illinois-Texas tilt, a game the Longhorns won 90-84 in overtime, is the best game of this young season so far. I can’t possibly agree.

I saw two teams playing disorganized, frantic, one-on-one basketball for much of the night and defenses that were, quite frankly, non-existent. I saw an Illini team that refused to rebound.

And I saw an Illini team that looked anything but resilient, a chilling call-back to last year’s squad that wilted in the face of any substantial heat or pressure — say, that of a warm light bulb, for instance.

Then the Illini, just 16 hours later, took the court and dominated Maryland. Sure, they repeatedly let the Terrapins back into the game, but an Illini team that had to be gassed physically and emotionally always built the lead back up. It was, in all honesty, a pretty impressive performance.

So which is real? [Read more…]