How The Illini Got Their Groove Back in South Carolina



Why You Should ALWAYS DVR Your Teams’ Games If You Won’t Be Home
By Paul Schmidt

Sometimes, life is more important than sports.  It’s a rare occurrance.  Even rarer in my life than for most people. But darnit, my wife and I had a gift certificate to a tequila bar/restaurant that was expiring soon…the Illinois-Clemson game of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge was just going to have to wait.

So I DVR’ed this evening’s game.  I attempted to not find out the results.  Somehow, I was actually successful at this, despite the fact this phenomena never happens. I turned the phone off during dinner.  I stayed away from the one TV in the place which happened to be showing the Illinois game.

I got home, turned the phone on, got the TV set up, and my phone was filled with texts and tweets.  I knew something had happened.

I quickly found out what — at least I thought I did.

Illinois quickly fell behind, by as much as 23 early in the second half. Silently, to myself, I swore I would never record another sporting event to watch later.  Stupid, terrible idea. If I was watching live, it’s easy to give up the game, but by recording it, I’ve devoted time and resources to the game — it’s like I’m forced to watch the whole game.

Here’s a sample of the texts I sent during the first half:

“Just started…Tisdale already has looked lost and committed a stupid foul…He’s like James Augustine and Nick Smith combined…”

“Eff me…three McCamey fouls with eight minutes to go in the first half??”

To Paul Banks: “Can I change my mind about writing something about this game?? This effin’ sucks…down 21 right now and not yet halftime??”

Banks’ response “trust me JUST KEEP WATCHING!”

“Oh good…now they are elbowing our players in the face and the announcers are defending them…”

“Luckily, I keep a loaded .357 Magnum right by my side while I watch my teams…I can feel the sweet, cold sleep of death if this gets any worse…”

And only one of those is made up.  I’ll let you decide which one.

But then, as you all know by now, the Illini came back. HARD. In a manner not seen in roughly 4 years.

The difference, statistically, was staggering. The Illini shot 60.7 percent from the field in the second half, which featured one of the quickest, most shocking 28-6 runs I’ve ever seen.

They shot 50 percent from three point range.

And most importantly, the Illini outscored Clemson by 22 points.

Was Demetri McCamey’s third foul the catalyst for Clemson to get going?  Was his return in the second half the catalyst for the Illini?

No is probably the answer to both questions.

Quite frankly, the second half of the game was just how good the Illini can be. The first half was just how bad.

Now they just need to put two good halves together, and they’ll have something.

To steal a phrase from my friend Mark, it would seem as though we all need to get ready for some “Bipolar Basketball.”

You have to admit, it’ll still make things fun.

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  1. paulmbanks says

    Wow! It was like the “Miracle on Mannheim” or “the Nailbiter for Nellyville” as I named it. the Arizona comeback that clinched a place in Stl. for the Final 4

  2. Charley Davis says

    Where’s the anatomical breakdown?

    I disagree with your assessment of Demetri McCamey’s impact on the game. The ACC refs hand-strung him with BS ticky-tac fouls that forced Weber to bench him. Without our point guard on the floor dictating tempo, our supremely talented freshman backcourt wilted under Clemson’s full court pressure. What was troubling was they actually broke the the pressure only to pick up their dribbles and turn the ball over in the half court set.

    Second half, McCamey comes back in to settle the team down and the comeback was on. Our junior frontcourt started using their height advantage to score DJ and Brandon, freed from ball-handling, were able to be more aggressive both offensively and defensively. To top it all off, Weber changed defenses in order to confuse the Tigers.

    -20 first half w/out McCamey. +22 with him.

    To banks point, this was nothing like the Resurrection at Rosemont. That one was divinely inspired because Arizona was really good as the Illini were a team of destiny.

  3. now you understand my pain of DRV’ing 5 college basketball games a night…

  4. Paul Schmidt says

    There’s certainly some question of how good Clemson is, there shouldn’t be a question of whether or not the game was a choke — it wasn’t. That was a supremely talented Illini team that came back in the second half, not a Clemson team giving it away.

    I would say that there certainly WAS an effect of having McCamey on the bench, but it wasn’t having McCamey on the bench, if that makes sense. It was more that we had a still-rusty Jeff Jordan in at point guard. I think that Jordan will be back in the swing of things in a month or so, with more games and practice under his belt…but for now, he’s a little bit of a liability coming in off the bench.

    I think that is the distinction…it wasn’t that they missed McCamey as much as it was that Jordan just isn’t ready for prime time yet.

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