Basketball ready for real games

By Jeff LaBelle

In the Friday, Oct. 24, issue of The Daily Illini, the article “Basketball ready for real games” incorrectly stated that the men’s basketball team lost to Purdue in the title game of last year’s Big Ten Tournament. The article should have stated that Illinois lost to Wisconsin in the championship game.

The Daily Illini regrets the error.

The following is the corrected version of the story

Hand checks, scratches and occasional extra bumps have littered Illinois men’s basketball practices this season.

“Everybody’s fouling,” forward Mike Davis said. “Everyone’s scratching.”

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    Even with the occasional set of referees governing daily workouts, players said they’ve been getting away with a lot of bruising the first two weeks of practice. But that all ends Sunday at the Orange and Blue Scrimmage, when a team of referees will wear, and blow, their whistles.

    “Everybody’s been getting away with calls,” guard Trent Meacham said. “We’ve all been going hard, guys are definitely hacking a little bit, and that gets you ready for the season. But we do need to get out there with referees.

    “It keeps you accountable.”

    Sunday’s main event, the team’s first competitive public scrimmage this season, will showcase the players by putting them in competitive game situations against their teammates. Meacham said some of them haven’t seen game action since last March, when Illinois dropped the Big Ten title game to Wisconsin.

    “We haven’t played in a game since March. A few guys may have gone places over the summer to play, but it’s always different than this,” Meacham said. “In practice we do a lot of drills, conditioning, we’ll go up and down some, but when we get out in a game type setting coach can’t stop the play.”

    Along with the excitement of playing in Assembly Hall again, sophomore forward Bill Cole is just happy to get out of Ubben, the team’s practice facility, and back in front of fans.

    “Practice gets a little dull at Ubben every day so it will be real nice to get into Assembly Hall and in front of some fans,” Cole said. “I’m ready to get back in there. We’ll really be ready to go at each other and get competitive.”

    After sitting out most of last season, including the team’s final 14 games, with a leg injury, Cole said he’s using the scrimmage as a chance to start over.

    “I kind of feel that way,” Cole said. “I’m ready to get going. Last season I had a couple setbacks, fought through some injuries, now I’m looking forward to this season. It’s a clean slate.”

    Meacham and Cole know that coaches will be keeping an eye on various position battles during the scrimmage and that their playing time could be affected by the outcome of the event. Players from the two teams, the Orange and Blue squads, will be rotated so as there’s no set roster for the event. Cole said testing the different lineup combinations will let everyone know what could work come game time this season.

    “In practice we switch up teams every day so you can’t ever really get used to a certain vibe out there,” Cole said. “Once we get through the scrimmage we’ll figure out who works best together and in what situation.”

    Meacham said he’s looking forward to what happens after Sunday. He’s ready to see people other than his teammates for a while.

    “It will be nice when we finally get an opposing team out there, to see something different for once,” Meacham said. “It can get old playing against the same guy every day. But we’re still excited to get out in front of the fans.”