Battle: 'If they're playing, we win the national championship'

Battle: 'If they're playing, we win the national championship'

Michael Kiser and Loren Tate kept the airwaves humming with “Saturday SportsTalk” on WDWS 1400-AM. A sample of what was said during the two-hour program:

Click here for the full podcast

The debate will continue for some time among Illinois basketball fans.

Who wins between the Flyin’ Illini team coached by Lou Henson that reached the 1989 Final Four and the 2005 team, led by Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head, that made the national title game?

Kenny Battle doesn’t shy away, though, from offering up his pick. The ultra athletic forward, who was a key reason why Illinois received its Flyin’ Illini moniker, stays true to his team. 

“As I told Dee and Deron and Luther and all those guys, I love the ‘05 team,” Battle said. “We’re just a hard team to match up against. We had a deeper bench. People forget Andy Kaufmann didn’t even play that year because of a blood clot. Rodney Jones was academically ineligible. If they’re playing, we win the national championship, hands down.”

The responsibility to get Illinois back in a position to possibly compete for a national championship now rests with Brad Underwood. So far, Battles likes what he has seen and heard from the new Illini coach.

“I talked to him a week ago,” Battle said. “I was in, and I spoke with him. I spoke with him over the phone as well. I also saw him after his tour in Chicago about the third day after he was hired. From sitting down and talking to him, as well as watching him and looking at his records, we’re going to be a high-powered offense. He believes in scoring the basketball, and he also believes in good defense. This season coming up, it’s going to be very exciting, offensively and defensively.”

Getting top in-state players to play for the Illini, which Underwood seems to have done so far in landing Mr. Basketball winner Mark Smith from Edwardsville, is key to any future success Underwood will have with the Illini, according to Battle.

“You can pick at this and you can pick at that, but when you don’t have a great pipeline coming in from Chicago and throughout the state, it hurts,” Battle said. “One thing we had and the guys on the ‘05 team had was guys from the state of Illinois. We haven’t been getting those guys as of lately. I feel we will get back to the elite where we belong, and I feel Coach Underwood and his staff will get it done.”

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PortlandIllini wrote on June 18, 2017 at 10:06 am

A  nonsense story.   It's like arguing whether George Washington or Abraham Lincoln would win at bowling.

The story that I'd LIKE to read in the future is "which Illinii national championship team was better?"

illinifaningeorgia wrote on June 18, 2017 at 4:06 pm

LOL. Nice analogy.

I agree.  It's just like the old cliche "If you don't have something nice to say about somebody, don't say anything".  If you don't have anything to write about, just step away from the keyboard.


rocko wrote on June 19, 2017 at 12:06 am

Love both teams but the Flyin' Illini win easily.