Team preview: Western Illinois

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 27, 2004, 5:07 PM ET
Blue Ribbon Yearbook
Editor's Note: Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, long known as the Bible of college basketball, to provide a comprehensive look at all 326 Division I teams.

COACH AND PROGRAM

A few years from now, Western Illinois coach Derek Thomas may look back on April 29, 2004 as the springboard for returning Leatherneck basketball back to its former winning self. That was when the NCAA rescinded its "5/8" rule (which had limited the number of initial grants that could be awarded to eight in a two-year period, with no more than five in any year), thus allowing Thomas to bring in eight fresh faces for the 2004-05 campaign. And what he brought in was more than just bodies. This class is so good it was rated 21st in the country by one recruiting service. It's easily the Mid-Continent Conference's top class and has helped ease some of the sting of last season's catastrophe.

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