Insert story idea here

By Lucas Deal

I had writer’s block.

It was yesterday afternoon, and I was trying to come up with something original to write about for this week’s column. At first I thought about writing about Wednesday’s game, but IUPUI just didn’t do much for me.

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Then I thought about complaining about how bad the officiating was against Arizona, but I think we all know it was bad, so I didn’t feel like I needed to go into details.

Then I wanted to write about Greg Oden, and how amazing he’s going to be when his hand finally heals and he starts carrying the Buckeyes towards possibly their second national title in less than four months.

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    But, once again, I had nothing. I guess I’m just not poetic enough.

    Relatively discouraged, I started looking through my Illinois media guide; looking for that one thing that would spark my interest.

    I found some cool stuff, but that one great idea never came to me. And don’t get me wrong, there’s great stuff in the media guide; I just couldn’t put it down on paper. The writer’s block was too much.

    By this point, I was legitimately angry. I never get writer’s block. Ever. And yet, there I was, staring at a blank screen.

    My mind started to wander. All kinds of thoughts crept through my head.

    How much longer will Randle be out? Was playing Smith Wednesday night a bad idea? When they both get back to 100 percent, who’s going to the bench?

    Turns out that last question was a pretty good one.

    Since Bruce Weber’s arrival here in 2003, the Illini have been primarily a guard-oriented team. Weber runs a motion offense that relies heavily on good shooters, ball handlers and all-around guard play, and the Illini have run the system very well.

    In 2004 and 2005, Weber had an ideal situation with a true point guard (Deron Williams) and two strong outside shooters (Luther Head and Dee Brown).

    Last season, with the losses of Luther and Deron to the NBA, Weber simply slipped Dee into the point guard slot, anointed Rich McBride the heir to Luther’s wing position and caught lightning in a bottle when Smith opened the season practically perfect from behind the arc.

    And despite all of his success, Smith was still a bench player. He played a lot of minutes because Shaun Pruitt hadn’t yet fully developed his inside game, but he (Smith) was still coming in off the bench, and he was still avoiding the pressures of being a starter.

    This season, things have changed. Dee is gone and Chester Frazier has stepped into his role, while Pruitt and Warren Carter (a back-up to Pruitt and Randle last year) have become a formidable, if not dominant, low-post duo.

    McBride is continuing to start at one wing position and Calvin Brock has played valiantly at the other. And yet, when Smith and Randle return, both will be expected to start.

    Which begs the question, how do you start seven guys at five positions? Who sits?

    For Weber’s offense to work at its peak, he needs three good shooters on the floor. However, if he goes with three guards, he will be forced to bench at least one of his top two post men.

    The best lineup I can come up with is this: Frazier, Smith, Randle, Carter and Pruitt. While I still believe McBride and Brock are important members of this team, I believe Smith’s outside stroke (5-for-5 from deep vs. IUPUI) is too important for him to remain a bench player.

    It’s a little bigger than an ideal Weber lineup, but with the exception of Pruitt, every player has the ability to step out and hit a three, which should help spread defenses and give guys open looks.

    Wow, it turns out I had more to say than I thought.

    Lucas Deal is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]