Can you imagine Leib playing against Kofi in practice for a year. Hamlin will have played against him for two years. I really think Kofi returning is bigger than Ayo. Ayo will rightly go down as a transformational player for the Illini, and we should revere him along with our most favorites of all time. Ayo is a better player for sure, and his intangibles are off the chart, but w/o Kofi we are so thin at the 5 and I think really vulnerable, especially in the Big 10. With Kofi we have no weakness, and are reasonably deep at the 5, and then also at the 4 if you swing Gorgi for a twin towers look. But not only does Kofi help us next year, through Hamlin and Lieb he will make us tougher for years.I think that has been the plan all along. He mentioned it when he committed. I really like this kids upside in a couple of years.
As we mourn Lou, I am so happy to have BU. I think he, like Lou, is the complete package. And I also think he, like Lou, will treat Illinois as a destination. We all hope that Kofi and Ayo will both look back on this as a great decision. If that happens, it will be as great for the UofI as it is for them.
In a previous post I mentioned the great teams that I can personally recall: 84, 89, 01 and 05. Two of those teams did not make it to the final four, and its a shame that we don't recall them as much as the other two. Winters, Douglas and Altenberger, and the Manual gang provided some really fantastic memories. I appreciate and share the enthusiasm, and dream of another season like 89 and 05, and even better. But both of these teams are examples that in a one and done format, the best team doesn't always win. The 89 and 05 teams build on success. In my mind the 84 and 01 teams were more transformational. 84 set the stage for 89, and 01 set the stage for 05. We have not been what Illini basketball should be for a decade. Its a lot to ask this bunch to go from a where we have been recently to where we are dreaming. I'm dreaming, like all of you, of a national championship. But if these guys can restore Illini basketball to where we were, in one season, that will be amazing enough. The Big Ten will be a war next year. Now that we have Kofi and Ayo - Bring it. To set expectations, I would say if we win the Big Ten, this will be a great season, and Ayo and Kofi can be proud to head off to the next level. Anything else is gravy.