Slapdash March 8, 2013
It’s 1:39 am as I’m starting this. Doing the Thursday night bachelor party/Friday night rehearsal dinner/Saturday afternoon groomsman thing this weekend. Drank a big Mountain Dew to stay awake on the way home from the end of the bachelor party, which was poker at the groom’s house. I’m so incredibly bad. Flop is 2-8-10, and I stay in and go head-to-head with some dude because I have A-2. But hey, I paired the 2! (He paired the 8. And the 10.)
I have to take my son in early tomorrow, which means my alarm will go off four hours and 11 minutes from now. Feels like the perfect time to slapdash.
Several of you have asked why I deleted my Iowa postgame post without publishing it. Well, because it was bad. So defensive and excuse-y. Here, I’ll go dig the opening out of the trash bin and post it:
You ever have one of those posts where you know it’s a bad idea as soon as you start typing but you just go ahead and post it? Wait, maybe 7 of you write words about Illinois sports on the internet (HI LOREN). What a horrible post opening. I should start over. Probably won’t.
I made a statement on Twitter after the game saying that Iowa is better than us but will go to the NIT (at 9-9 in the conference) while we go the the tournament (at 8-10 in the conference) simply because of scheduling. And a bunch of people reacted strongly to this statement (OK, maybe 7). Which surprised me. Iowa just beat us by eight and will finish ahead of us in the Big Ten standings, yet claiming they’re a better team is somehow controversial?
So I went and checked out Twitter and some of the message boards and I see all kinds of anger. Claims that we’re back on the bubble. That this was the most frustrating game in two years. I mean, I HATE losing to Iowa. I was in Champaign for the Pearl affair. Iowa basketball single-handedly ruined my five years of hoops in Champaign. But most frustrating game in two years? Iowa was favored by 4 points. Sure, our offense was bad, but 12 blocked shots had something to do with that (as did one dunk that the rim blocked).
I’m all over the place and nowhere near my point. Which always means I need to back up and retrace my steps.
It rambled on from there. Yet another post retracing our steps over the season and looking at 21-10 as a great success. And several excuses as to why we lost to Iowa.
Given two days to think about the game, I’ve changed my tune a bit. That loss was just bad. Iowa opened so many doors and we looked around at each other to see who would go through them. Yes, they’re much improved, and are probably a solid tournament team next year. But without their point guard, and with all those turnovers, we shoot in the 20′s? Man, that was gross.
Foster The People
I had that one all worked up for a big Glenn Foster game this season – was probably going to go with something like “DL needs to do work this game and dominate the Purdue offensive line; in other words, we need to Foster their people” – but then the season went south and when that happens, I lose all creativity.
But I’m not surprised Foster had a big pro-day today (enough to get on the first page of NFL.com’s draft page as scouts scramble to find out how some guy not invited to the combine put up big agility numbers). When you watch him on the practice field, he kind of looks like a big tight end out there. Very agile and quick on his feet. And he can do all kinds of ninja moves too – Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks and whatnot. I think I saw him do a back handspring once, too. But maybe that was Craig Wilson.
I’m hoping he can find his way into the draft in the later rounds. For two reasons: 1) NFL teams need more ninjas, and 2) It’s always fun to have the yearly “we had four guys drafted and finished 2-10 last year?” conversation.
Dream A Little Dream
I’ve enjoyed daydreaming about future Illini basketball teams again. Ask my friends – hang out with me in 2001 or so and I’d tell you of my dream class that included Dee Brown and Steve Novak (Marquette). And if you’ve seen me on message boards here or there over the last 15 years, I could usually be found saying ridiculous things like “if we add Scheyer and Collins to Carlwell, Jamar, and Brian Randle…”
After a few years, I stopped doing that. Our recruiting had even picked up at that point, but it just still felt off. I’d lost my hope in the future. Now, with John Groce, it’s starting to return. So I found myself daydreaming today about JaQuan Lyle and Cliff Alexander both joining the 2014 class.
Let me get one thing out of the way – there’s a 7% chance both Lyle and Alexander end up at Illinois. Both are top-15 players in the 2014 class. We haven’t had a single top-15 player in twenty years. Dee Brown was the highest rated recruit of those 20 years, and he was #19 in the RSCI. Not one player ranked 1-18 picked Illinois in the last 20 years. And now I’m dreaming about two in the same year?
Yes, yes I am.
Eight RSCI guys. Two McDonald’s All-American freshmen. Other glue-like pieces such as Rayvonte Rice and Jaylon Tate. Man, what an incredible team that would be. Too bad it’s just a dream.
But the crazy thing is, JaQuan Lyle is supposed to trim his list to six this weekend, and I’m fully confident we’ll be on it. A player from Indiana (where we haven’t landed a player in 25 years), a top-15 player (which we haven’t landed in 20 years), and here I sit, confident we’ll be on his final list.
That’s why I’ve started daydreaming again. With Groce, it kind of feels possible.