Illinois, Arizona gone Downhill since Miracle on Mannheim


Today’s link comes to us from Hail to the Orange, the SB Nation Illini blog. And one of the finest Illini blogs around. Remember UI did invent the web browser, so of course there’s bound to be some good weblogs out there, right? Joe Kutsunis’ link recaps the infamous 90-89 OT thriller Elite 8 game in 2005 (the “Champaign Campaign”) and where everyone has gone since. Unfortunately for the Illini and Arizona Wildcats, it’s been down.

An excerpt: 

“The game also represents, sadly, the last great runs for either program involved. In the two seasons after 2005, the Wildcats never made it past the second round; in 2007 Lute Olson went on a leave of absence that would soon become his retirement. Without their immortal coach leading them, Arizona has become in many ways just another basketball school. Since 2005, the Illini have won only one NCAA game, and have failed to reach the heights that they had with Deron Williams, Luther Head, and Dee Brown. Neither team has won their conference since.

For the players on the floor it was the last great college showcase for their talents. Four players who started in that game are still on NBA rosters: Stoudamire, Frye, Head, and, of course, Deron Williams (who has since become one of the great players in the NBA).

The 2005 game against Arizona stands as the last great moment for two storied programs, the first hint of greatness for future NBA players, and an unforgettable game for the fans.”

As Joe points out, the “Easter Eve Ressurrection” or “Nail-Biter to Nellyville” (Remember, this game punched a ticket to the Final Four in St. Louis) also was the game that stimulated Deron Williams man-crushes for certain members of the Illini Nation.

“The game should also be remembered as the game that punched Deron Williams’ ticket to the NBA draft. His twenty-two points in that game don’t jump off of the stat sheet on their own, but his poise down the stretch was evident for anyone who watched the game. Of those twenty-two points twelve came in the final three minutes of regulation and the overtime. Without Deron, this team doesn’t come back.”

To read the whole article go here

Figure I’d share these warm memories, on a grey, cold day following the UGLIEST win in Illini history since…well that 55-54 2OT 2007 win over Indiana in the Big Ten tournament was pretty bad.

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  1. I know TSB commenter Tim Riggins is going to have something to say about this piece- finally some Arizona coverage on The Sports Bank

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