Home Cookin'

Dec 06, 2017

13 year-old me who cried in the laundry room when his heroes lost to Austin Peay in the 1987 NCAA Tournament is fairly happy. I needed this. It still hurts. Ken Norman is my favorite Illini of all time and he didn't deserve to go out like that.

But let's be honest. That was a complete and total homering. Austin Peay led by four with 5:53 remaining (yes, really), and from that point on we shot 14 free throws, Austin Peay shot none, ballgame. This was not Peay fouling to get the ball back - this was Austin Peay shooting at their end (and their coach begging for foul calls) and then it was Illinois getting fouled and going to the line on the other end (and the Austin Peay coach ready to lose his mind).

Now, were we aggressive and driving to the hoop? Yes. Were they fouls? Yes - there are always fouls all over the place. But one glaring statistic decided this game: Illinois shot 20 free throws in the second half (15 in the final six minutes), Austin Peay shot two, ballgame.

It couldn't happen to a nicer memory.

Seriously, if you're old enough to remember the 1987 Tournament, you remember how painful it was. Snake could score from any angle in any situation in the paint. Doug Altenberger - seated 10 feet to my right as I type this - could drain it from deep (and was on that team because of an injury redshirt in his first senior season). Tony Wysinger made it all go, Kendall Gill and Steve Bardo were freshmen off the bench, even Jeff Finke - still seated up in the stands over there, waiting to talk to his son when he comes out of the locker room - was on that team.

And they had such a good chance to get to the Final Four. They were the three-seed in their region with a vulnerable one-seed (Georgetown, who wasn't 1980's Georgetown that year and tripped into a one-seed) and a bad two-seed (Wimp Sanderson's Alabama team). The six seed, Providence, coached by a young Rick Pitino, won the regional. My bracket had Illinois in the Final Four (yes, I filled out a bracket in 7th grade - I ran a pool in the cafeteria, thankyouverymuch).

Losing in the first round to 14-seed Austin Peay was so PAINFUL. It just couldn't happen. I refused to believe that it had actually happened for weeks. The whole Dick Vitale standing on his head thing and "Let's Go Peay" and Snake's last game... ugh.

So do I feel bad about homering Austin Peay in one of the worst games I've ever watched in this building? No I do not. There's part of me that needed this. Deserved it. Keep blowing those whistles, stripes. I love me some good home cookin'.

+ It feels like the whole team is in a rut right now. With about eight minutes left I tweeted that our six guards had scored 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, and 0 points. Against one of the worst opponents we'll face this season. Play like this and 2-16 in the Big Ten is in play.

That won't happen, of course. This is a process, and this seemed to be the "I won't get all that angry - I'll just let them self-destruct out there and then maybe they'll understand" game for Brad Underwood. He'll get them there. "There" isn't the NCAA Tournament, but "playing better basketball and ready for a leap next season" will do.

And I guess that after two emotional overtime conference games, we were due for a letdown. It makes sense. We sleepwalk, they hang around, we put them away with a little help from our friends in stripes.

But man, that was just SO BAD. Burn the tape.

+ In the "Back And Forth" post that Tyler and I are bouncing around right now (published Friday, most likely), I asked him if DaMonte Williams >>> Mark Smith right now. You can see that discussion later but please note - DaMonte started the game and Smith came off the bench tonight.

Of all the funks, Smith's seems to be the deepest. And of all the "man, he brings it every night" players, I probably put DaMonte at the top. He still has a long way to go (and let's be honest - that's a really big knee brace with metal hinges and he won't really be 100% until he can remove it), but he just does so many little things. Heck, the comeback (we needed a COMEBACK against AUSTIN PEAY) was probably sparked by his steal and breakaway layup.

Smith will snap out of it (and learn how to play defense), but for now, Team DaMonte.

+ I'm still so "no no no YES" with Leron. I need to snap out of it. He had some really nice post moves tonight, and that rainbow that looks like it comes off his wrist seems to drop so softly, but when they send the ball into the post I still get anxious for some reason.

I guess I really haven't reached a comfort level with any of the players besides DaMonte. I should explain that.

To me, "comfort level" is the lack of anxiety. When Trent or Te'Jon is bringing the ball up against the press, I'm still nervous. When AJ is doing anything besides spotting up for three, I'm nervous. When Kipper goes into his Euro-step, I'm nervous. And when Leron gets the ball in the low post, I'm nervous. I need that "BP3 has it with the clock winding down - we're good" feeling. Or Ray Rice, or Malcolm - it's not that any of those teams were great, we just had players where I knew what we'd get. I'm not there yet with this team.

But that's OK. We beat Peay and exorcised a few demons. It's the first year, the team is still going through the growing pains of learning a new system, Ayo went off in a high school game last night - the future is bright.

Tonight, though... werf.


phytynlini on December 06 @ 10:49 PM CST

So this game reminded me Austin Peay is probably my first real memory of becoming an Illini fan. How apropropriate. My sister went to Illinois beginning in september of 1983. I played sports (I was born in ‘75) but never really payed attention to teams legitimately until the ‘85 Bears. So in 1987 I was in Miami with my parents on a spring break vacation, en route to the Keys and watched the Austin Peay game in the condo. Amongst all of the Miami Vice color themed rattan furniture, I felt a passion for the Fighting Illini and within two hours felt the first of which has now been 30 years of disappointment.

I didn’t really invest in football at the time so basketball maintained my love for the Illini despite arguably the best brief era for modern Illini football. That began when I enrolled at Illinois is 1993 and performed with the Marching Illini for the subsequent four years.

Of course, I have enjoyed the success of 2005, 2007 (I skip 2001 on purpose because I wasn’t invested at the time due to my personal life at the time). But, really, all I have is one year of football in college, two final fours, and the 2007 Rose Bowl.

I don’t really know the point of this, except for to state the realization that Austin Peay was a part of the genesis of my Illini love and I find it quite ironic that my genesis began with a loss. Let’s just call it foreshadowing.

phytynlini on December 06 @ 10:52 PM CST

Also, the edit function after posting this following many glasses of wine is not very functional. Excuse my rundunancies.

Bear8287 on December 07 @ 11:07 AM CST

Yes, the "edit" function has been whonky for some time.

Typically, you click on "Edit Post" to submit the edit and you'll get:


Error Code: 01
Error Message: Could not Edit Post.

But sometimes, if you're lucky, it will apply your edits to your post anyway.

Here's another one. Try going to the forum section scroll down to the bottom and click on one of the previous pages. On the list of posts for that page click anyone and see if you get anything but:

Not Found

The requested URL was not found on the server. If you entered the URL manually please check your spelling and try again.

I've mentioned this twice and even posted what the issue is with the URL formation and ... Just part of the "charm" of IlliniBoard I guess.

Bear8287 on December 08 @ 10:36 AM CST

Just discovered another idiosyncrasy here. If you go to any forum page after the first page and click on a "thread" (post by reader vs. story by IlliniBoard staff) it actually works!

So you can directly access reader threads but IlliniBoard story links are broken.

enter image description here

rml on December 07 @ 07:02 AM CST

I thought we were saved by the refs too, and was asking myself last night, "would you have liked it better if it came earlier, and we won one of the previous two, but then lost this one?" Probably not, I guess.

BelieveInIllinois on December 07 @ 07:09 AM CST

Robert, your 1st paragraph perfectly expresses how I feel. Only difference was I was 29 not 14. That loss still bothers me.

larue on December 07 @ 07:28 AM CST

I feel justified on two fronts now. I predicted before the season started that Da'Monte would have a better college career than Mark Smith. Still a long way to go on that, but it doesn't look as crazy now as people thought it was at the time.

And I've maintained for years that we need to recruit more players with apostrophes in their name.

ATOillini on December 07 @ 07:44 AM CST

Like BelieveInIllinois above, I too was 29 in March of 1987 and already a lifelong Illini fan at that point. Watching the game last night, it was all I could think of.

Just wondering what others might say. Is the sample size big enough yet to determine this is just going to be the worst 3 point shooting team in Illini history? Or can we still at least find respectability? Most of the misses aren't even in the proper zip code. Just boggles my mind. These guys couldn't have been that bad in high school.

You can certainly point to a any number of deficient moments last night (to say the least), but when Austin Peay made 1 of 2 free throws with 14 seconds left in the game did anyone besides me just throw up their hands when it was obvious we had no idea who was supposed to take the ball out of bounds? Yikes

IlliNYC on December 07 @ 03:19 PM CST

The three point % is amazing & imagine what it would be without AJ?

I think those will improve as the freshmen get more comfortable in the offense and catch up to the speed of the game. What has been fun about this team is that they can still find ways to score even with that bad shooting.

Bear8287 on December 08 @ 11:03 AM CST

Is the sample size big enough yet to determine this is just going to be the worst 3 point shooting team in Illini history?

As a team, the Illini are 69-218 from 3 (0.317). Opponents are 62-174 (0.356), so the Illini have taken 44 more shots from 3 than their opponents and have made 2 more.

If you take out Jordan, it drops to 46-181 (0.254). If you additionally take out the big men (Finke, Black, Nichols) it goes to 21-115 (0.183). Out of the remaining players Cayce is 0-2 so we'll take his contribution out and it's 21-113 (0.186), yeah that's much better.

So, who all is in that pool of 21-113 shooting? Smith, Alstork, Lucas, Frazier and Williams. If anyone had told me before the season that group of 5 players would have a total of only 21 3-point shots made over the first 10 games I wouldn't have thought the Illini would be 7-3 with 2 OT losses.

Jordan and the bigs account for 69.6% of the made 3's this season for the Illini!

As Robert would say... werf.

Bear8287 on December 07 @ 10:54 AM CST

did anyone besides me just throw up their hands when it was obvious we had no idea who was supposed to take the ball out of bounds?

Oh, I noticed that too. I was thinking oh cr@p, these guys don't know what they're supposed to be doing right now.

Steve Bardo said, "this game is going to make for some long film sessions."


Lou-a-villini on December 07 @ 08:09 PM CST

DaMonte gets it quicker because he played at Manual. Their tradition and toughness mean the game is not as fast for him, as it is for other freshman (and for Lucas!). And, oh, he’s Frankie’s son....so there’s that. ;)

Speak Your Mind

Please login or register to post comments on the IlliniBoard.