Let It All Out

Jan 16, 2019

I mean, it doesn't mean anything. We're now 5-12. It was fun, and it was loud, and it was start-to-finish drubbing, but it doesn't mean anything. Big picture, there are big concerns (duh). 5-12.

But for one night (and, hopefully, for many more nights to come), everything clicked. There have been spurts here and there (Georgetown, Xavier, Nebraska), there have been very close calls (Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Northwestern), but all of those games came up short, mostly due to inconsistency. Tonight, 40 minutes of hell.

If we were something like, say, 11-6 right now, I'd be crazy excited. I'd start to say things about Oklahoma State under Underwood and how they all of the sudden went on a big conference winning streak after starting Big 12 play 0-5. But that is not this. This is 5-12. So context must be applied. We could go on a seven game winning streak and still be sub-.500.

And we're not going to go on a seven-game winning streak. We might go on a six-game losing streak. @Iowa, Wisconsin, @Maryland, @Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan State before Rutgers comes to town on February 9th. In context, this is, well, it's the Minnesota football game in November. A surprising blowout out of nowhere that we all forgot about when we lost to Iowa 63-0.

But with that acknowledged, let's talk about some good things for once. Because there were so many good things in this one. When Da'Monte layed in the 'oop just before half to put Illinois up 49-26, this place was going insane. If the players were letting out all of their frustrations on Minnesota, the SFC crowd joined them in letting it all out. Every cheer they'd been stifling all season as we lost to the Florida Atlantics of the world was released in here tonight.

Let's make a list of some of the things they were cheering about.

  • Ayo with yet another 20+ point performance, now scaring me that he might only be here one season. We need that Ayo-Trent-{wing of choice}-Giorgi-Kofi season next year. Get leaps from sophomores and we might actually have something. An example of that might be... Minnesota under Richard Pitino in 2016/17? 8-23 in 15/16, and then, suddenly, out of nowhere, 24-11 in 16/17. Get Ayo back and a big leap is possible.
  • Giorgi - I'm not sure exactly what to say about Giorgi. Tonight's HOLY CRAP was him getting position for three tip-ins after missed shots. Against Minnesota's massive front line. When Giorgi signed and we were all making jokes about his "film" where he was dribbling around chairs in a high school gym, no one would have believed me if I said he'd have these two back-to-back games: 15 and 4 against #2 Michigan followed by 20 and 8 against Minnesota. Those are crazy numbers for a freshman frontcourt player during conference play.
  • All of the freshmen contributed tonight. The radio interview with Underwood is going on in the background right now, and he's talking about all of the good things that Alan Griffin did tonight. Tevian Jones came out on fire, hitting a three on one end and then getting a defensive stop on the other end. Samba hit two fadeaways.
  • Trent and Ayo had, as Tyler mentioned on Twitter, an "I'll take the first half and you take the second half" game. Ayo had 15 in the first half, Trent had 11 in the second (and would have had a lot more had this not been a "play the walkons at the under-four timeout" game). The key is to get Trent and Ayo playing well together.
  • Jordan was 3-4 from three. Feliz got to the rim for a layup... five times I think? The only player who had a poor game, really, was Kipper (no points on 0-3 shooting).
  • Rebounding was the biggest surprise. Minnesota has Jordan Murphy and these solid freshman bigs like Oturu (who had 17 points) and Illinois won the rebounding battle 39-26. When you shoot 56% and you win the rebounding battle by 13, you're going to win a lot of games. Some of them 95-68.

This was a Minnesota team that just went into Madison and won. They were 13-3 and getting votes in the AP poll. So this wasn't like beating Penn State (winless in the Big Ten so far) or Rutgers. This was a decent team who has beaten Utah, Texas A&M, Washington, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin this year. So I think we can learn some things. Maybe it's starting to click. Hopefully this wasn't a one-night thing.

Because that's what this is supposed to look like. This is what we were sold when Underwood was hired. Frantic pace. Score in bunches and then turn you over and score again. As noted on Twitter, 95 points is the most for the Illini in a regular season Big Ten game since 1997. This is what we were told we were getting.

I think my takeaway tonight is that hopefully this was a glimpse of next year. I don't think it's a glimpse of the rest of this season. I really do think we might go on to lose six straight here. This will be forgotten like the Minnesota football game was forgotten.

But hopefully, next year, with everyone back + Cockburn and January, this is what it looks like. With Ayo returning to lead the charge.

And then the crowd can really let it all out.


IBFan on January 17 @ 12:50 AM CST

Where is your head at?

"Doesn't mean a thing" - I don't think you could have ever competed at anything in your life to have this opinion. This couldn't be further from the truth concerning this team.

Reality 63 Robert 0

I think you should keep bringing up and using the 63-0. Your readers love it! They've told you so. It shows how much you value your opinion over everyone else's.

If you are a chef and you love your steak charred and you only prepare steaks charred, you may be the only one eating in your restaurant on a given night. And, after awhile, you are no longer a chef but a dishwasher wishing he still had the chance to cook.

Illinimac68 on January 17 @ 06:49 AM CST

We don't always agree but we pay to read Robert's opinion and not everyone else's. If you prefer your own opinion perhaps you could start your own blog. Just don't expect IB subscribers to subscribe.

Alaskan Illini on January 17 @ 07:53 AM CST

And as subscriber's we're also allowed to disagree with Robert. In this instance (and a few others) I have to agree with IBFan. While a big win for this young team in the midst of a dismal (but not completely unexpected season), we all know it doesn't really matter at season's end. . . . unless you consider the impact on the psyches of the very young team. It should begin laying the foundation in their minds (and those of us who passionately follow the O&B) of winning.

But to open up with "Doesn't mean a thing" . . . there's nothing insightful about that. And we all get it - we all remember (and likely will never forget) the drubbing last football season. But I think this is the 367th time Robert has mentioned it in an article (I may have rounded up a tad). It doesn't need to be rehashed again, and again . . . .and again . . . and again.

uilaw71 on January 17 @ 07:57 AM CST

At least Robert is consistent, having already declared the season over, team bad, and coach clueless - in another of the 63-0 posts.

Illinimac68 on January 18 @ 07:02 AM CST

The OP did a lot more than disagree. It was a general indictment of Robert's practice of writing his own opinion in his own blog.

AHSIllini32 on January 17 @ 08:03 AM CST

Paying to read someone's opinion now means you can't voice your displeasure if you disagree with them? That's asinine.

Love Robert's writing but I had a really hard time with starting off this post-game write up essentially saying "it doesn't matter".

We've been waiting for a breakthrough and waiting for signs of life from a number of players and waiting to get over the hump in a game. We get all of that and more, mostly from underclassmen which Robert pointed out on Twitter, and the first paragraph is about how none of it matters?

bkenny on January 17 @ 04:42 PM CST

I don't understand what is so hard to comprehend here. It means "nothing" in regards to THIS SEASON - we can't/won't turn it around this year, we're not going to the tournament, the record is still 5-12. So yes, it doesn't really mean anything in that regard. It's like you didn't even read the rest of the article, where he mentioned that if the record was different, maybe he'd be excited about a turnaround THIS SEASON ala OSU.

The 63-0 comparison isn't off. This might be the OMG THAT WAS FUN blip in an otherwise crappy season filled with a ton of losses. In both cases, we hoped it pointed to something the next season.

AHSIllini32 on January 19 @ 07:42 PM CST

Here’s the problem with your response, in the first paragraph Robert cites that there are “big concerns” after stating this game meant nothing.

This game has the potential to mean quite a bit, both in regards to this season (not in the record) and for the future.

Dr. Chim Richalds on January 17 @ 08:17 AM CST

Never thought I would see the day Robert is getting blasted for being too negative. 63-0 is a very, very bad loss, and not one that good coaches typically suffer, especially at home in their third year to an unranked team. 5-12 is also a very bad record, the likes of which we haven't seen in 40 years on that side of Kirby. Just my opinion, but I think it makes sense to frame discussions within the context of those realities, rather than take the first win in a month and write a post about how everything is amazing now.

Either way, great performance from the whole team last night, and here's hoping we have more such wins on the horizon.

SactownIllini on January 17 @ 08:53 AM CST

I agree. I don't have a problem with 63-0 references. It's a reality check that we have a long way to go. But when we do get there, 63-0 is going to feel way different.

Great job Robert. Really enjoy all of your analysis. I got excited when I saw you on TV tonight. I yelled out to my little kids there is Robert! And then I realized how creepy it is because we don't even know each other and they sure as heck don't know you.

DB50 on January 17 @ 09:37 AM CST

I do have a problem with the 63-0 reference point. Not because it’s not valid, it very much is, FOR FOOTBALL. It has nothing to do with BB season. Have they struggled, yes, Florida Atlantic exhibit A. When you have one of the youngest teams in the BIG with zero post presence learning a new system at D1 level their record, to date, is not uncommon. Enjoy games like last night as a sign of progress, understand there will be a learning curve, and help is on the way next year. Lastly, I expect them to stumble, at times, but continue to show growth.

track on January 17 @ 02:18 PM CST

"I do have a problem with the 63-0 reference point. Not because it’s not valid, it very much is, FOR FOOTBALL. It has nothing to do with BB season"

I agree with this, I came on to post something similar. Robert is being a glass half empty guy here. One could just as easily post the numbers "4:04 60-75" (hint: Arizona, Elite 8, etc) and that would have about as much relevance, but at least it's basketball, and it gives an optimistic viewpoint.

Sweetchuck13 on January 17 @ 10:11 AM CST

Damn that felt good. Who knows what it means, but just for one night, it was fun to watch Illini Basketball!

Chukwuwumba on January 17 @ 10:34 AM CST

Good to see what a month of practice can do for the team! Hummel or Katz mentioned a win like this helps confidence in coaches, scheme, system works. will help future practices. Show up for home games and get a few more wins, that is progress. Freshman stepping up their games after first semester...great to see. Adjusting to college life.

Hoppy on January 17 @ 02:50 PM CST

This was win #1 for our major sports teams in 2019 right?? In 2018 we only got to celebrate a win 12 times between the two sports.

Let’s hope we can double it for 2019!

classof64 on January 17 @ 04:28 PM CST

Win or Lose.. these young men play hard.. Doesn't mean a thing? Really??

Now I understand why Coach Underwood told Frazier not to read Social Media

orangejulius on January 17 @ 06:44 PM CST

I was thrilled with our performance but if you think this one game means something in the grand scheme of Illinois basketball, turn back the clock to February 18, 1989, when arguably the best (or 2nd best) Illinois squad ever lost by 20 on the road to an unranked Wisconsin team. At the time we were #5. And the following season Wisconsin finished 14-17. So last night was fun, but Robert is right. One win, even a lip-smacking, foot-stomping blowout win, doesn't tell us if this rebuild under this coaching staff is going to be successful. In fact, we have hardly any better idea now than we did yesterday afternoon.

sudden_valley on January 18 @ 07:57 AM CST

Funny that you mention that game as an example of a game that didn't matter in the scheme of things. There's an article in the Madison paper today that talks about the importance of that game to the Wisconsin program! LINK

IBFan on January 18 @ 12:34 PM CST

orangeandblue on January 18 @ 09:46 PM CST

Well the title of the blog was “Let It All Out” and it looks like Robert and most of us did. LOL. Nice to get a win in impressive passion. Can’t wait to see it on a regular basis. And I’m guessing the game will matter to Minnesota come tourney selection time and their on the bubble. Would be fun to see them on the wrong side of the bubble because we beat them.

Illinimac68 on January 19 @ 05:03 PM CST

We're well out of it but at least we put Minnesota in the NIT? That doesn't get me high* but if would if it were Auburn.

*Good to Go sung by Toby Keith

1970 John on January 19 @ 08:11 PM CST

Does it matter? I don't think we know that yet.

We'll get a bit of an idea against Iowa. If Cayce gets his second B1G basket we'll be a little more justified in thinking this team might making some noise for the rest of the season. I'm going to take a wait-and-see attitude.

Go Illini!

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