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Chris Paul, Weber, Illini lead way at midseason


It's time for my midseason report on the best of the best (also check out my midseason V-Lists).

I don't think it's any secret that the best team has been the Fighting Illini. There is no doubt that Illinois has had a fantastic start, and the fans in Champaign should be jumping with joy.

Coach Bruce Weber's team has a dynamite backcourt, Deron Williams and Dee Brown. When you play that efficiently on the perimeter, you always have a chance to win. Just look at how good Wake Forest is, but the Illini won a mismatch, a no-contest 91-73 victory over the then-No. 1 Demon Deacons on Dec. 1.

Illinois also dominated Cincinnati 67-45 on a neutral court in Las Vegas. Those wins say a lot about the Flyin' Illini. That's right, I remember when the Flyin' Illini reached the Final Four in 1989. Coach Lou Henson was on the sidelines. This year's Illini also have the potential for special things.

Now, for some midseason awards and accolades:

Midseason Player of the Year -- Wake Forest guard Chris Paul
Chris Paul was a diaper dandy last year, and he's been even better this year, baby! He isn't afraid to take the big shot in crunch time.

Coach of the Midseason -- Bruce Weber, Illinois
A Big Ten lifer and a Midwesterner at heart, Weber has done an outstanding job getting his team to blend into a unit. The Illini have played sensational basketball.

Midseason Diaper Dandy -- UCLA guard Jordan Farmar
Farmar has been the catalyst in the backcourt for the rebuilding Bruins.

Center: Sean May | North Carolina
Forward: Hakim Warrick | Syracuse
Forward: Ike Diogu | Arizona State
Guard: Deron Williams | Illinois
Guard: Chris Paul | Wake Forest
Honorary Captain: Wayne Simien | Kansas

Center: Channing Frye | Arizona
Forward: Francisco Garcia | Louisville
Forward: Rashad McCants | North Carolina
Guard: Travis Diener | Marquette
Guard: Raymond Felton | North Carolina

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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