Illinois men’s basketball impresses Big Ten

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Online Poster

By Nick Fawell

With its new number-one ranking, a slew of blowout victories and the powerful energy of the Orange Krush behind it, the men’s basketball team has already put a big smile on the face of every basketball fan on campus. Other Universities around the Big Ten conference also are impressed with the potential Illinois basketball brings to the Big Ten.

“They looked pretty sweet against Wake Forest,” said Jeremy Bartle, sophomore at Michigan State University and a member of MSU’s “Izzone” student cheering section. “That’s good for the Big Ten. I’m sure they’ll stay in the top five all year.”

Bartle also said he expects so see the Illini toward the top of the polls for a while.

“You guys are scary, real scary,” said D.J Penza, University of Wisconsin senior and basketball fan.

Penza, a member of the Grateful Red, the student cheering section at the University of Wisconsin, said he would like to see the Illini go to the Final Four this year.

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    “If the Illini keep playing like they did against Wake Forest, I’d be disappointed if they didn’t make the Final Four,” Penza said. “Unless you play us.”

    Nate Volsheim, junior at Indiana University, said he felt the Illini should remain one of the top-ranked teams all year.

    “I think that Illinois will be able to really dominate in the Big Ten this year,” Volsheim said. “I would expect to see Illinois at No. 1 or at least in the top five in the nation all year.”

    Volsheim cited the play of guards Dee Brown and Deron Williams as big reasons for the Illini’s success this year, but said there is another aspect to Illini basketball that makes it so special.

    “When I turn on the TV and I see the Orange Krush, it just seems like they’re wrapped around the court,” Volsheim said. “They’re unified. They’re together. There’s a lot of support. I would like to see IU pattern their student section after schools like Illinois that present such a unified fan base.”

    Volsheim explained that at IU, the students simply have to get student season tickets to sit in the “Crimson Crazies” section, Indiana’s version of the Orange Krush. But students here must raise a certain amount of money for charity before they may join the “Krush.” Volsheim said having such fund-raising requirements helps bring the true fans into the student cheering sections.

    Bartle’s brother Jason, senior at the University of Michigan and a member of Michigan’s “Maize Rage” student section, said he also thinks it is important for the Big Ten teams to play well, especially against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) teams like Wake Forest.

    “I love seeing the Big Ten teams do well in the NCAA,” Jason Bartle said. “The Big Ten doesn’t get any respect at all. It’s all ACC.”

    No one is more excited about Illinois basketball this year than the Orange Krush. But members of the Krush know better than to start making lofty predictions about how the season will play out.

    “People keep talking about getting to the Final Four and I hate to hear that,” said Mark Perkes, president of the Orange Krush Foundation. “I’d rather hear about winning the Big Ten.”

    With about 1,000 people in the Orange Krush this year, the most the Krush has ever had, Perkes expects good things.

    “I think this year the student body illustrates that there is a lot of excitement for the season,” Perkes said. “Assembly Hall’s going to be rockin’.”