Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gut-Check W

Okay, I will admit -- I've had a bit of a hard time watching my Illini lately. First the Michigan State loss -- a beautiful first-half and a disheartening second half. Then the heartbreaker to Wisconsin, which somehow I managed to miss. THEN I had class tonight, and I didn't get to see the Indiana game until I got home...

But the wonderful hubby had DVRed the game for me, and I must say that I agree with the ESPN announcers here. This was a gut-check win. It was a game that had to be won to keep NCAA tourney hopes alive, and it was a game that the whole team so clearly WANTED to win to beat Kelvin Sampscum. And although it was the subject of much debate this evening for the announcers, I will salute Bruce Weber for even touching that man's hand twice. I will salute the crowd for simply booing the man and not the team. For a minute or two, I felt bad for how overwhelmed that man looked tonight. He actually looked kind of frightened at several points, but to be fair there were about 10,000 people in that dome who were letting them know how they felt about him. But then I thought, you know he's royally screwed this program at point guard for the next couple years. Maybe he will think twice before his next shady recruiting stunt...or soon no one in the Big Ten will be shaking his hand.

Aside from the theatrics though, let me say that this game made me somewhat hopeful for the rest of the season. The Illini played entirely without Brian Randle and still put up an incredible defensive effort. They held Indiana scoreless for something like 14 minutes of the game. Offensively, Illinois might have struggled if Indiana had maintained its usual shooting percentages. However, I was a bit encouraged on this end as well. Shaun Pruitt continues to play like a beast, even while hurt. Warren Carter has really matured and is becoming a leader before our eyes. And even if it was only for 8-10 minutes, it was so nice to see McBride find his shot again.

This is the kind of win this program needed right now, and I salute the Illini and Bruce Weber for making it happen. Now how about turning this mojo into a road win at Purdue?!?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Um...Happy New Year

Although it's not the happiest one here from IG's house. First of all, the last two Illini basketball games have us in a bit of a funk. We won't even mention the Xavier game, because it was incredibly painful to watch. However, the Michigan game this evening was not much better. The first half was fairly palatable, but I am worried about whether this team is going to be healthy and practiced enough to gel. Their defense and rebounding has been solid, but they cannot score to save their lives at the moment.

Shaun Pruitt showed his potential to be a beast in the first half, but he was mysteriously absent from the court most of the second half which triggered injury worries from the hubby. Randle seemed like he is still not healthy and on the ball as he usually is. You can't have repeated games with less than 6 points from your leaders and expect to win. You just can't.

Game nights are starting to get a little stressful around here. We are Cubs fan (and Bears fans) in this house, so we should be used to this. We shall eventually overcome, or we will wait until next year. As much as I love the game, it is just basketball.

Otherwise, it's been a hectic couple weeks of getting details wrapped up before the holidays, traveling to spend time with friends and family, and cleaning up the house from Christmas. We had a health crisis over the holidays with my husband's grandmother, so it was a bit muted in these parts. Our prayers have been answered so far though as she pulled through a stroke and surgery and is doing fairly well. I am looking forward to a nice weekend off to really relax. Perhaps I can eke out a politically natured post then, as we have been having some interesting discussions in these parts on smoking bans, trans fat bans, and individual liberties. Hope all is well with you and yours, and I will see you again soon.

Updated: Man, last night just stunk for the Orange and Blue faithful. Poor Rev: http://www.sltrib.com/jazz/ci_4949253. Reading that article just makes me miss Deron and Dee more. As Roger well knows though, all things happen for a reason. Perhaps it just was not his calling at this time.