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The Game Where JoeBert Went All Frankie November 29, 2012

Remember this?

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.

iagreewithsp November 29th, 2012

He very much reminds me of The Freak.

Randle had that same tendency to sleep walk, then get a hard foul or some other bug up his a$$ and it’s like a light bulb went off and he got the eye of the tiger. Remember when he straight posterized that giant freak for Indiana Killingsworth?

You see that seem spark in Joseph’s eye where you just know he’s decided in his head that he’s going to make a play and turns it on. The downside is that it’s inconsistent and somewhat predictable (i.e. that he is going to take his man 1:1 and not pass or kick out), but man is it fun to watch!

GrogsBBQPepperoni November 29th, 2012

That was a nice win – made much better by the highlight of the 88-89 team beating Ga Tech to secure a #1 ranking (Kendall Gill broke his foot in that game, unfortunately). Was watching game with a buddy who called an Illinois loss when we went down by 4. Poor guy – he’s still trying to eliminate the Bruce Weber effect from his memory. Games like this will help cure him. DJ and Professor Grif – it’s like they have a new lease on their basketball life. Only one year left on that lease, sadly…

ATOillini November 29th, 2012

Wow. Thanks for the video clip of Frankie. The b-t-b pass just gave me the chills (all 10 times I watched it). He sure could turn it on at times.
As for game analysis, your bullet points seem to have been stolen from me by some Star Trek type mind warp thing. Could not agree more. The lack of an inside game is just so obvious. Watching the hated Hoosiers, Buckeyes, Wolverines, Gophers, etc. the last few days raises a lot of concern in conference play. Sure seemed to me last year that, in what limited time he played, Mike Shaw looked like a guy who could at least rebound. Did not see the floor last night, and it’s not like Sam is tearing things up.
Oh well. We are a perimeter team and probably going to be our identity for the year. I should just accept that and run with it. There will be games when the 3 doesn’t fall. Just keep after it I guess.
One last thing. Regarding some comments I’ve seen on other sites addressing the empty seats in A section, it definitely is embarrassing on a national tv game. Wish I had a solution. I have always felt the Assembly Hall comes off as one of the best arenas in the country on tv… angles, the ceiling is so cool. How do we address this?

CW November 29th, 2012

Aaron Craft is too busy fouling out of games for BP3 to win DPOY.

Steve November 29th, 2012

I was in A Section last night, on the side behind the Illini bench. Not empty there at all. Sure, there were some empty seats, but mostly full. Too full in a way, it seemed that those people (don’t you hate that phrase “those people”?) could not get out of their seats. I’m pretty sure that the three ladies to my left had a book club going through the first half.
but I digress.
On the other side, however, the first 6 rows are empty and that is because no one can see over the Krush. I don’t want to lose the Krush, in fact I want to enhance the student seating, but the tv appearance of rows of empty seats on the floor is horrible. Just speaks to the need to redo the arena, lower the floor, fix the seating and the student section and relight the first of House of Paign.

wimble November 29th, 2012

Frank Williams was fantastic. I became an Illini fan watching the Flying Illini as a kid, but Frank Williams was incomparable and made me an Illini fan forever. So dominant – he moved like a cat and saw the floor better than anybody.

Never could figure out how he couldn’t put it together for the Knicks.

TC80 November 29th, 2012

Great post – Any chance you can include a video clip of “The Frank Williams Show”, you have to do it. It’s amazing how many exciting moments this team has already produced, and we’re only 8 games in! Sure, there’ll be some nights when they go cold, but at least Illini basketball is fun again after the last few years.

Lou-a-villini November 29th, 2012

I hope Manual HS can churn out another Illini or two. It’s just so sweet.

Illiniwek66 November 29th, 2012

I concur with all your statements, and antics towards the end of the game. I was doing the exact same thing with my bride sleeping quietly beside me. At 46, however, my self control must be waning. I was pumping the air with my fist, and SCREAMING. Several disgruntled comments erupted from the other side of the bed about “how I owe her” and some other general grumpy thoughts.

Thank the Lord we have something to cheer about in the Illini nation. I’m more of a football fan than basketball, but it’s just great to have something to cheer about!

IlliniAl November 29th, 2012

Experienced a feeling last night that I haven’t experienced since …oh…maybe 6-7 years ago. The feeling that a run was coming and we would eventually roll to a win. This team is just so much fun to watch…no more struggles to get to 30 points, no more stories by the head coach thats he’s going to go 9-10 deep, then maybe 6 players actually play, no more quiet assembly halls where all I hear is the coach yelling at the players not to shoot….gotta love this team!