Well That Was Something

Nov 26, 2020

(Free article.) Let's just get it out of the way first: I left the game in the second half because the speakers were too loud.

I mean, that's not WHY I left. I left because I was sweating and nauseous and even through I've received a negative Covid test recently, I'm still around other reporters and don't need to be sitting next to them if I'm sweating and nauseous. But I was sweating and nauseous because of... the speakers? I have no idea. I'll just tell you how it went.

As soon as the game starts, the crowd noise starts. I get it - all the cool kids are doing it these days. Make the broadcast sound like an actual game.

We went with the same thing Nebraska did last Saturday - constant ambient noise the whole time. It's not supposed to replicate the sound of a crowd cheering - it's supposed to be what the arena sounds like when there's 15,000 people there with many of them talking all at the same time. Nebraska didn't turn their "ambient crowd noise" off when their player was loaded onto a stretcher which made it super awkward. A moment where a stadium full of 80,000 people would actually fall completely quiet and they're pumping crowd noise over it.

This noise was similar except that it was A) indoors and B) very loud. The main reason it was so loud, at least for me, was likely this bank of speakers directly above and in front of me:

The sound quickly becomes annoying. Two minutes into the game I'm already tweeting about it, giving it an F-. Then, at the first TV timeout, someone hits the "super loud cheering" button and it's twice as loud. I see Brad Underwood lean forward in the huddle on the floor to yell louder to his players and I flip into Taylor Twellman WHAT ARE WE DOING mode.

We're distanced pretty far in the media area (moved to the Loge seating area above the tunnel this year), but Brad Sturdy gets my attention and says something like "this crowd noise has to go" and I tell him that it's all I'm tweeting about. It's so incredibly annoying. Like sitting at your desk and someone comes in and sets up a speaker stand in front of you and turns it up to 11. "Uh, why?"

But then it gets weird. I can't really explain it. I start to feel "off". Part anxiety, part nauseous, my whole body starting to scream "turn it off turn it off turn it off". It moved from "this is annoying" to "why is my neck tingling?" pretty quickly.

That immediately flips me to "I'm imagining this" mode. But as it persists, I move that to "I must have some kind of medical event going on right now" mode. But I just had my blood pressure checked and my pulse is strong and I don't feel anything other than "this blaring directly in my face feels like it's resonating inside".

I had read an article once about "sound torture" so at this point I start googling whether sound can send you into some kind of psychotic break or something. Looks like it probably takes 30 consecutive hours of Megadeath at full volume to do something like that.

The next TV timeout comes and they play some song with a heavy bass. Not kidding - the first bass hit makes me jump. This will sound weird but I felt it in my spine? Every beat is piercing right through me. What is going on?

I remembered the quote from 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan saying that fake crowd noise was "human torture", so I started reading artcles on that. Shanahan's point was that a real crowd will be loud here and then soft here and then the ball is snapped and they go quiet as they watch and then something happens and they make noise. Once constant sound, to him, was "human torture". Maybe we have the same disorder or something.

So maybe I'm not crazy? Except I'm pretty sure I'm going crazy. I feel ill from fake crowd noise.

I decide to simply drown it out. I listen to music during football games in the pressbox (we're behind glass so we can't hear anything anyway), but not basketball games (I want to hear if Underwood yells something). But I have my AirPods with me, so I put them in my ears and play noise canceling music at the highest volume possible.

That's better, but not perfect. I still feel off. It's hard to concentrate on the game. And I'm constantly fighting with myself in my head. "You're completely making this up" says one side of my brain. "Sweating, nauseous - how am I making up sweat and nauseousness?" says the other side.

I fought with myself a lot in that second half until I finally realized that there's a chance this could be something medical, and if there's a chance it could be something medical, there's a tiny chance it could be Covid-related (even though I had a negative test recently). And if there's even the tiniest chance my sweating and nauseousness was something else, I needed to leave. So I did.

Maybe it was psychosomatic or something, but by the time I got to the car I felt better. I drove straight to the mall and got a Covid test (just in case). But by the time I got there, I was 100% fine. Haven't felt an ounce of any of that since.

And the moment you feel fine, that voice tells you that you imagined it all. Sitting here right now, a few hours later, I'm absolutely convinced that my brain made it all up. I mean, I know what I was feeling at the time, and I can very specifically remember jumping when that bass hit, and the best way to describe it was the feeling you get when someone scrapes a fork across a glass and it squeaks - that full-body cringe was what I was experiencing on and off for an hour. But now that I'm no longer feeling that, I immediately think that I never felt it.

I also went through what else it could be. Panic attack? I've never had one of those, but they supposedly come out of nowhere. I haven't been anxious about anything, though, and was in a massively good mood all morning. And I don't think a panic attack would come and go like that.

I WebMD'd myself into something called "misophonia", but that's apparently something that triggers rage, and I wasn't rage-y. I was recoiled.

So I guess I'll just never know. Maybe that set of speakers are aligned just so and my seat in the loge section found the sweet spot where all of the sonic waves converge. Maybe stress boiled up to a certain point and this was the boiling-over moment. Maybe the cream I put in my coffee was bad (but I just bought it yesterday!).

Whatever it was, it was weird. Who gets nauseous from SOUND?

Oh, right, we also won a basketball game by 62. We scored 122 points. Adam Miller had 28. The Happy Gilmore "uh oh, Happy learned how to putt" was all over my timeline. It was a really good day.

So I should probably write about that. Here's a few of my favorite things.

(And because I just typed "a few of my favorite things" my brain goes "now you have to type out the lyrics to My Favorite Things using the game today" and I go "do I really?" and my brain is all "yep - it's the only way to redeem yourself after faking an injury and leaving early".)

Six 3's from Adam and 18 from Kofi
I can't see how we will not raise a trophy
Pretty sure we should start sizing for rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Ayo and Trent joined by Ace and Curbelo
Kofi and Giorgi are like STAT and Melo
Grandison 'Monte and Hawk are the wings
These are a few of my favorite things

I'm talking basketball before December
That's rare for me - I'm the guy who remembers
Jon Beutjer now coaches in Western Springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the crowd noise
Comes through speakers
And I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feeeeeeeeeeeel so bad

Yep - looks like the speakers fried my brain.

I think I'll just do a list of things I really liked today and then go rest my head. First, let me apply a blanket disclaimer.

This was a bad opponent. Not much means much. The things we saw to day won't happen on the road at Michigan State. Full acknowledgement of strength of opponent is hereby noted.

Now, the things I liked.

  • The biggest positive, for me, was Jacob Grandison. 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2-2 from three. Yes, Miller looked like a superstar and Ayo looked like the National Player of the Year. But this team also needs someone to fill the Kipper role from last year, and Grandison looked like 18 full minutes of Good Kipper. Having a consistent 3-4 guy could be massive for this team.
  • NERDstat! Adam Miller's effective field goal percentage today was 108%.
  • Just went and looked through the box score - Ayo scored 8 points in 32 seconds early in the second half. Hit a three with 17:44 remaining. Then Adam Miller gets a steal, tosses it to Da'Monte who flips it to Ayo - another three at 17:27. Then a quick shot from NC A&T is missed, Kofi grabs the rebound, he feeds Ayo, and Ayo scores on the fast break at 17:12. 32 seconds, eight points.
  • It was 8-5 at the 16:00 mark of the first half. At the 6:00 mark it was 38-7. So that's a... 30-2 run? These are probably things they were telling you on the broadcast. I'll move on.
  • I chatted with NC A&T play-by-play guy (and former Illini BTN Student U broadcaster) Spencer Turkin before the game. He told me that Blake Harris was eligible for NC A&T and that was a big deal. It didn't occur to me at the time that this was the same Blake Harris who was at Missouri and then transferred to NC State. That's quite a long journey. Committed to Washington with Michael Porter Jr. Then flipped to Missouri when Porter flipped. Then nearly led Missouri to a comeback against Illinois after being down 20 (Finke hit a few threes and we held them off). Then Harris transferred to NC State. Then to NC A&T. I'm realizing again that this is probably something they told you on the broadcast.
  • Let's see here anything else that sticks out well we shot 17-34 from three that certainly helps and both Miller and Ayo scored 28 so LOL to those people who said they'd never play together and let's see here REBOUNDS WERE 62-18? Is that some kind of record? +44 in rebound margin? We could get out-rebounded in the next 10 games and still have a positive rebound margin. 44? Wow.
  • 28-10-5 is certainly how you should your perform in your first "in contention for National Player of the Year" game. My goodness, Ayo.

I think I'll just end here and go rest my brain. I have no idea what the hell that was. Gonna schedule an appointment with my doctor just to make sure everything is where it's supposed to be in my head.

But I'm pretty mad that whatever this was cost me some viewing of this game. Because we might be better than any of us think.


mmyers74 on November 26, 2020 @ 01:30 AM

Sorry about the random affliction. Let's hope it's a fluke. I'm sure it is.

One thing... yes, this team was not good. But... with regard to Miller... it's often difficult to look good vs. really bad teams. You like up and you have pts and rebounds and the star line is stuffed, but you didn't "look" good. That was NOT the case with Miller.

He had the build of a Junior. He was confident and comfortable at the arc (which, while you will be less open vs. Mich St., fortunately the distance is identical... but the moves in the open court were possible the most reassuring.

He simply passed the highest bar of eye tests. The highest. We may have something (briefly) VERY special there.

Mark Smith vs Eastern, couldn't hold a candle to Ace Miller be NCA&T.

This was not your typical "Illinois beats up on the sisters of the blind"... this was different. This year, looks to be different after today.

Efremwinters84 on November 26, 2020 @ 08:31 AM

I do agree --- Michigan State on the road is going to be a much better test of how this club compares to those Illini teams from 16 and 32 years ago.

I sat through the game thread on Illinois Loyalty yesterday afternoon and I saw so many comments alluding to the fact that this is the "....best Illini team playing the best game in the history of the school." I think we all need to tap the brakes and more fully assess at the end of December.

With that said, I did thoroughly enjoy the game!

illinizeeman on November 26, 2020 @ 08:46 AM

That's a fairly natural reaction when your brain has no way of relating a body sensation to an input. It sounds like a minor panic attack in which the body gives you a mega dosage of adrenaline and your brain goes on high alert.

allansellers89 on November 26, 2020 @ 08:47 AM

This game was a lot of fun to watch. The effort on the court was amazing. For most of the game even when the "bench" players came in they kept playing at a high level. Nice to watch the team play hard.

I hope you are feeling better Robert.

NC_OrangeKrush on November 26, 2020 @ 08:53 AM

Understanding opponent quality.. But if you look at last 10 years of games against the same quality opponent... This team vs. other Illini teams performed above the average...

A great 3 game tune up to find out next week who they are at this stage...

But my oh my... The February version of this team if healthy will be something to see...

FlyDoubleN on November 26, 2020 @ 12:28 PM

Exactly what I wanted to say. Years past, we are not taking care of business against bad teams. This team? Get out of the way.

CapitalCityOutlaw50 on November 26, 2020 @ 09:15 AM

Working Jon Beutjer into the lyrics for a song about 2020-21 hoops = Awesome.

Not rhyming it with future for the first time ever . . . 2/10. :-)

Eagle on November 26, 2020 @ 10:09 AM

We can’t really tell a lot from playing this caliber of competition. There’s a lot of B1G teams that can shoot lites out with no one guarding them. However, there are things that are valuable and the article/comments touched on a few. I especially liked that it didn’t look like our first game with the usual sloppiness. This team has a commitment to excellence that we haven’t had since 2005. I really hope Baylor is healthy enough to play us. And the creativity of your Favorite Things is off the charts. I had no idea anyone could take one of my favorite songs and reweave it to applaud our Illini.

IlliniBobLoblaw on November 26, 2020 @ 10:16 AM

Stanzas, ranked: 3-4-1-2

IlliniBobLoblaw on November 26, 2020 @ 10:43 AM

(Can't ever get the darn edit button to work.) The ranking is from best to almost-best.

IBFan on November 26, 2020 @ 12:19 PM

Great game! Your reality was that you were sick. Your body told you to change something. Similar to “fight or flight”. The body will shiver, shake, vomit, etc when necessary or leave a ball game. Always listen to your body. If everyone tells you the scary clown standing in the dark alley is ok and go ahead and see what he’s up to but your legs seem like they aren’t strong enough to lift your feet to move in that direction, turn around and head for the nearest pub.

Mr Cool on November 26, 2020 @ 02:54 PM

Robert you aren’t alone. I feel the same way about artificial crowd noise. It’s awful. Ruins the game for me that I watch them on mute. I don’t understand what is so wrong with being able to listen to the authentic close up action of the game? It’s so much more refreshing and vibrant than a dull murmur. I wouldn’t listen to static on the radio so why do TV stations think I’d want to hear it on TV?

Mr Cool on November 26, 2020 @ 02:59 PM

And also trying to think as a player, if I was at the YMCA shooting baskets and the Y was playing a loud murmur on giant speakers it’d make me sick too. I’d tell them to turn it off. There’s def something agitating to artificial persistent loud noise. I hope the players or coaches tell whoever is in charge to shut it off.

PapaL on November 26, 2020 @ 05:21 PM

Perhaps the most important takeaway from this game is that Ayo clearly understands that he has to improve his jump shot range to attract real interest from the NBA. He is clearly much more comfortable and confident in his 3 point shot. This will pay dividends against better competition.

firet92 on November 27, 2020 @ 08:09 AM

Great Taylor Twellman ref

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