The Game Where JoeBert Went All Frankie November 29, 2012
I was in a
hotel motel room at the Lake of the Sky Motor Lodge in Tahoe City, California on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe with my friends Derek and Brian. Two beds in the room – my snoring forced Derek and Brian to the same bed and I got my own. I don’t care what anyone says – snoring gets you places in life.
We watched that game from that motel room. We had been skiing all day, so we were pretty exhausted when the game came on. But when Frankie made that behind-the-back pass, we were all on our feet, huddled around the television, screaming at it. And when Frankie made the steal and the layup 15 seconds later, I lost it. All I remember is running around the room and finishing with a jump from one bed to the other.
There have been other highs in Illini basketball in the 11 years since – Frankie beating Minnesota to give us a tie for the Big Ten title, Dee’s steals at Michigan in 2005, the Arizona game – but I can’t remember a sequence of events that had me so fired up and looking for beds to jump off than Joesph Bertrand’s 10 points in 98 seconds tonight, capped off by this (which I stole from an Illini message board so if this is the property of some media organization, well, thanks).
When that happened, my wife was asleep, so I couldn’t make much of a sound. So I spun around a couple times, pumped a few fists at the floor, and then did the silent scream at the ceiling like there was a camera looking down on me. Derek and Brian would have been proud.
From trailing 58-54 to leading 64-58, all in 98 seconds, all by Joseph Bertrand. Good God that was fun.
(As I type this, I have SportsCenter on in the background, on mute. I’m just waiting for the Top Ten Plays, because I know we’re gonna get some #JoeTales.)
A few thoughts on the game:
+ It is so, so very strange to watch an Illini game, see one of our players come down on the break and pull up for a three, miss the three, and then not get yanked from the game. I mean, it’s almost like aggression is encouraged. Live by the three die by the three? I say put ourselves in the tournament and have a shot at the second weekend because we aggressively look for the three. Yeah, we’ll have a game where we’re off. Who cares? Just keep shooting.
+ Raise your hand if you loved the switch to the zone in the second half. Georgia Tech looked lost. I saw something from Brad Sturdy on Twitter that said the call is “23″ – a matchup 2-3 zone after a make, and man-to-man after a miss. I love loving our coach for doing things I love.
+ Lost in JoeBert’s second half heroics were two things: Tyler Griffey’s first half and Brandon Paul’s defense.
In the first half (and the early part of the second), I got nervous when Griff was taken out of the game. As in, “I’m worried our offense will go ice cold now”. Who would have thought we’d be saying that about Tyler Griffey in November?
Just for fun, I want to go look up his three point percentage after this game. And… 17 for 30 on the season – .567 from three so far.
The other part that gets lost is Brandon Paul’s defense. I was so upset when Teddy V called a block on that one play midway through the second half. BP3′s ability to get position in front of a driving guard is stunning. I want to watch it in slow motion to figure out how he does it.
But it wasn’t just that. Another block from behind (like the Ohio State game last year) that sparked JoeBert’s second three pointer. Great, I don’t know, “pestering” like you want from a guard in a 2-3 zone. And a couple frustrated Georgia Tech guards who couldn’t get away from him. Let’s start the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year campaign right now.
+ I’d say the biggest concern right now has to be our bigs. Griffey is more of a three than five for a four (you know what I mean), and Nnanna’s offensive game is still a work in progress, so we’re not really getting anything in the paint from our starters. Combine that with the fact that our three starting guards are better rebounders than our two starting forwards, and, well, it’s a work in progress.
And if you extend that to the bench, Myke Henry gets some minutes at the four but he might be more of a two, and, again, JoeBert is easily our best rebounder off the bench (and Devin Langford’s hops might make him second). So rebounding is a concern. And low post scoring is a concern. Really, “any team with solid bigs” is a concern. I feel like Minnesota would beat us by 31 right now.
But those are worries for another day. We’re 8-0 and ranked #22, and with no more games this week we’ll likely be inside the top-20 the next time we play.
And there’s Joe at #3 on Top Plays! “He hung in the air FOREVER”. Illini Basketball, SportsCenter’s top 10, ranked in both polls, undefeated… as. it. should. be.