Live Blog – Ohio State January 5, 2013
I’m bored. I don’t think I like postgame press conferences. I want questions like “Brandon, what’s your favorite #joetales from 2012?” But I’d never ask questions like that. Because I would be shunned. For good reason.
OK, I lied, now I’m a little interested. Someone just asked Brandon what the “toughness drills” were that Groce ran them through this week, and Groce shut down the question. They laughed and said they’d keep that in house. NOW I’M THINKING THEY WERE JOUSTING.
Alright, now I feel like a jerk for the whole “I’m bored” thing. People are asking good questions. John Groce is 31 times more interesting than Thad Matta at a press conference. I’d like to announce that I’m un-bored.
What I’ve learned:
+ Brandon hadn’t worn the shoes from the 43 point game… until today.
+ Brandon and JoeBert made a joke at halftime about the ‘oop. Brandon said he threw a bad pass that would have gone in. He told Joe it was a bad pass… and that he took away his three.
+ Nnanna was focused and ready for today. Confident. Ready to take those shots. Feels his confidence strenghtening as the season goes along.
+ Coach Groce thinks the Big Ten is as deep as he’s ever seen it.
You know what’s my favorite thing about John Groce? His approach to the mental side of basketball. Not just getting his team focused, but his, I don’t know, psychological approach. He cares so much about his players’ mental approach.
He wants Tyler to stay aggressive. Sure, he was 0-6 today from three, but he wants him to keep shooting. Stay aggressive. Don’t get tentative when the shots don’t fall (like last year).
He wants Nnanna to play under control. Dial it in. Focus on his game. Focus on staying under control.
He wants Brandon to lead. He wants him to be vocal. He thinks a team will rally around a player leader, so he wants him to step forward in every way he can. Get his teammates to follow him.
He believe in mantras. He’s said Toughness and Togetherness about 331 times in this press conference. He believes a team needs to rally around a mantra, and he’s constantly focusing them on this goal.
OK so I’m totally not bored now. John Groce just fired me up. I might have a Chris Matthews thrill go up my leg. He just took a question and gave a speech. Talked about how he had one goal for this game: when he lays his head down on the pillow tonight, he wanted to be able to say “those are my guys – they FOUGHT”. Said he felt that way after Missouri but things didn’t go their way. Said he couldn’t sleep well after Purdue because he didn’t have his team prepared for everything (mentioned free throw box out). So he didn’t care about a win or a loss today per se, he just wanted to get back to the feeling that he prepared these guys to fight for him and for each other.
I have to stop attending these press conferences. When he’s done with a speech like that I feel like I’m in a high school football locker room. I want all of the reporters to put their hands in, say something like “TOGETHER” on three, and then go beat the Knights.
And NOW he goes to bat for DJ and talks about how he’s his guy and he’s heard the criticism about his shooting struggles and he doesn’t care – he’ll go to war with DJ anywhere. I’m in, coach. Talk like that, win games like this, and this fanbase will follow you anywhere.
OK, I gotta hit the road. Postgame post late tonight. Live blog over. Robert out.
I got in the car this morning and remembered how far I live from the Assembly Hall. I’m not just in St. Louis – I’m west of St. Louis. Door to door, 3 hours and 16 minutes. I’ve pulled a 3:12 before, but that was catching the two stoplights in my town and six in Champaign. Today was a 3:21 because of a stop for gas. I hate breaking the 3:20 barrier. Feels like it takes FOREVER.
So this fall, when getting in the car to head up for, say, the Minnesota game, the drive looked daunting. I love Illini Football Saturdays, but even the die-est of diehards found Memorial Stadium difficult this fall.
(Speaking of – Offensive Coordinator Chris Beatty was fired today, eh? And I saw somewhere that Billy Gonzales won’t be co-OC and will just be WR coach next year. I think we all know what that means: we’re giving up on the idea of having two recruiters as our co-offensive coordinators and we’ll be bringing in an offensive guru to right the ship.)
Back to my drive. As I hit the road, I wondered if it would all be worth it. I have to be back in STL for a dinner tonight, so I don’t have much postgame time to celebrate. Six and a half hours of driving just for one basketball game?
Yes, six and a half hours for one basketball game. So glad I came. The Assembly Hall was The Assembly Hall again. This place was rockin’. You forget just how loud this place can get. And the Krush wasn’t even here.
Man, I’ve missed this. We’ve all missed this. Big game, destroy a top-10 opponent at home by 20. Back on track for the tournament. A coach who gets his team to fight. A star guard who scores 19 when it felt like he maybe scored nine (a compliment). And Nnanna showing why he shot those #23000shots.
Headed down to the presser now. I’m so jacked I might even ask a question.
(But probably not.)
Some random thoughts as I sit here watching the game. There’s 7:08 left. We lead by 18. I’m happy.
+ Aaron Craft is impossible to watch when you can’t boo him.
+ We’re currently outrebounding Ohio State 31-26. I would have bet a lot of money that wouldn’t be the number with 7:08 to go.
+ Next year feels clear right now. We go as far as Tracy and JoeBert can take us.
+ When people see this score, they’ll probably think Ohio State is getting homered. Fouls are 15-10 Illinois right now. I can’t recall another time where a crowd here was booing the refs up 24.
+ Nice balanced scoring so far. As I type this, Brandon 18, Tracy 13, Nnanna 12, DJ 9, JoeBert 8.
+ A win here puts us back to even on my “just get to 9 Big Ten wins” list. Shouldn’t have lost at Purdue. Shouldn’t have beaten Ohio State at home.
+ Egwu just dunked and I’m going crazy inside. WE ARE ILLINOIS BASKETBALL.
Man, I didn’t expect this. As of right now (3:24 to go in the first) we’re tied on rebounds (14-14), Ohio State has 10 turnovers to our five, and we’re shooting 52% to their 33%.
But that’s not the most surprising part. We’re shooting 2-12 from three and we lead by 11.
*DJ hits a three*
We’re shooting 3-13 from three. And we lead by 14. So if this team is, what was that quote on ESPN, “live by the three and die by the three in every sense of the cliche”, then what can we make of leading Ohio State by 14 when we’re shooting 23% from three?
OK, took a little break there. It’s halftime now. And the greatest thing ever just happened.
There’s some, I don’t know, Cirque du Soleil kind of act at halftime. Russain gymnasts or something. They’re pretty great at doing things I could never do. Can I cheer for them?
They get lined up for their act. Some balance beam that the two dudes hold while the girl balances on it. And, apparently does flips. OK that was pretty awesome. LIVE BLOGGING.
Anyway, they were lined up to start and the music person hit the wrong button. The Gangnam Style button. The two dudes turned their heads around like “um, we refuse to flip her in the air to ‘heyyyyyyyy sexy layday’.” They then flipped to the correct music.
You had to be there.
Not kidding – it is so hard to not cheer from here.
I don’t mean “cheer” I guess, like I’d be yelling at the refs and clapping along to the cheerleaders’ “go-illlluh-NOY”. I mean do something when a three drops.
We took a quick 5-0 lead, got the ball back, and tossed it to Tyler Griffey in the corner. As his three was in the air, I leaned forward (like I do at home or in the stands) begging for it to go in. If it had, it would have taken a lot of effort – A LOT – to do nothing. (Note to the University folks kind enough to give me a press pass today – I really wouldn’t have. I have self control.)
But Brandon Paul just hit a runner in the lane and it feels wrong to not do anything. That’s my team, and they just did something awesome. I can’t react?
I can’t react. There are rules. A decorum. And I shall abide. But did you SEE the rebound that JoeBert just made?
And comments! Shouldn’t a live blog have some kind of comment thingy? Follow along and comment with me? I’m the least prepared live-blogging blogger in blogging history.
OK, so I’m courtside now. And I’m fascinated watching our assistants in pregame warmups. Especially Brandon Miller. Here’s a guy who was an assistant to Thad Matta for three years, left the coaching profession entirely, and then returned this year at Illinois as “Special Assistant To Head Coach John Groce”.
And now he’s standing here watching a bunch of players he helped recruit going through layup drills. Wearing red. While his old boss is watching his old team and his new boss (who also used to be an Ohio State assistant) is watching his new team. And assistants like Dustin Ford are chatting up Ohio State assistants that they’ve probably known for years. These two programs are fully intertwined. Well beyond just the “John Groce used to be an assistant for Thad Matta”.
What else? Oh – this dude sitting next to me seems to be checking out my words. Or probably not. I thought the same thing in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl press box. I’ll test the same way. Hey dude. How’s it going? What do you think of this post so far? Anti-perspirant – look into it.
No reaction. Maybe he’s just admiring my typing skillz.
I’m nervous. I want to win. We can beat this team. Ohio State looks… small. Why did I forget they’re so small? We’re winning this. BP44.
I’ve decided to live blog today. I mean, I’m a blogger, right? Bloggers live blog. How am I coming up on four years of ALE without ever having live-blogged something?
I decided on this while driving to Champaign. Live blogging just seems like something I should have done by now. But I don’t really know how to do it.
For starters, the time. I started typing this at 12:18. It’s now 12:21. What time am I supposed to put on a live blog post? When I start typing it? When I finish it and post it? Finishing and posting sounds right. I’ll go up and edit the time when I go to post this.
But that’s not even the main concern here. What’s the format of a live blog? New stuff on top? It has to be new stuff on top, right? That way, when someone discovers this later, they read the most recent stuff and then they get to the old stuff. But that’s the opposite of chronological. Shouldn’t it be new stuff last?
And – AND – do I just edit the post as I go and then people have to refresh. God this is embarrassing. Maybe there’s something I’m supposed to do where I update the post and an UPDATE appears in the RSS feed and on the Twitters. I’m so bad at this.
Well, I have to go with something, so I’m going with “hey readers – refresh this post all day because I’ll be updating from courtside”. The new stuff will appear on top. At the time when I post it. As a live blog. From a blogger. Me.