A Musical Take On Illinois’ Senior Day

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It’s been a long road not only for Illini sports fans these last 4 years, but for the four Illinois seniors who have presided over the darkest off-the-court times in recent memory. Let’s not forget it’s also one of Illinois’ worst on the court stretches as well.

If the Illini miss the tournament this season, this senior class will be the first group of seniors to miss more than two NCAA tournaments since 1982 — essentially, since prior to the Lou Henson era.

If that doesn’t deserve a depressing walk through my MP3 player, nothing does.
“It’s gonna kill me… The rest of my life
Let me apologize while I’m still alive
I know it’s time to face all of my past mistakes
It’s gonna kill me for the rest of my life.”
—Less Than Jake, “The Rest of My Life”

Maybe it’s defeatist, or maybe, like Bruce Weber says, it’s mean. Maybe I’m just being inherently mean. I don’t think so, but let’s see.

I feel like, just like us, this senior class of misfits and miscast players are going to regret this season (and, in turn, their whole four years) for the rest of their lives.

I don’t know if they understand our regrets or sadness about this situation, and after Bruce Weber’s, “The internet is a mean, mean place,” rant earlier this week, I’m sure he doesn’t. But the thing about this Illinois fan base is that they, more than anything, want the Illini to care as much as they (and we) do. And at times, these seniors just don’t look like they do. Whether it’s through body language, attitude or simply the look on their faces…sometimes it looks like they don’t care.

And that’s obviously not true. Obviously they care. But you can certainly still question whether or not they care as much as we do.

It’s a valid concern, and a valid thought. I don’t know what is in these guys’ heads, or why they might consider themselves done, but that’s where a lot of the consternation comes from with Illinois fans — their contentment with where they are in their respective basketball careers. Everyone seems unable, unwilling or not involved enough any more to change the direction and momentum of the season.

It’s sad, but true.

“A world that sends you reeling through decimated dreams
Your misery and hate will kill us all
So paint it black and take it back
Let’s shout it loud and clear
Defiant til the end we hear the call
To carry on
We’ll
carry on
And though you’re dead and gone believe me
Your memory will carry on
We’ll carry on
And though you’re broken and defeated
Your weary widow marches on…”
—My Chemical Romance, “Welcome To the Black Parade

 

I think as a fan base, at this point, we’re broken and defeated. Yet we do continue to march on, don’t we? The fans still tune in, based on Twitter and Facebook. The students and alumni still turn out to the Assembly Hall in Champaign. It seems like a healthy fan base…

And yet we are dysfunctional. We hate our coach. We hate our team. Everyone has a myriad of reasons why. No one specifically agrees on any one reason.

And yet…we carry on.

In the end, I think that will be the enduring memory of these Illini seniors: Demetri McCamey, Bill Cole, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale. I think that it will be the class that broke us as fans. And I don’t mean our psyche, I mean they actually broke us into little pieces.

We’re ranting about officials, we’re ranting about coaches and players and recruits. Hell, I still hate Eric Gordon, North Carolina and Matt Sylvester.

Gordon was almost 5 years ago. North Carolina and Sylvester were around 6 years ago (Sylvester, at this point, almost 6 years to the day).

Pretty easy to see how we’re a little dysfunctional when someone who is supposed to be unbiased, someone who is supposed to be able to write about the team in a coherent, rational way…still hates. Still is full of the hates.

Hate Hate Hate.

And it’s from half a decade ago.

The enduring thought in my mind is that, had this current senior class done anything to make us forget…we wouldn’t be in this position.

As it is…we carry on.

And I have a feeling that we’ll be looking for that apology for the rest of our lives.

Paul Schmidt is a senior contributor and media relations director for the Sports Bank, and is entering his tenth year of writing about sports in Chicago and Illinois.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    I had gotten over my Eric Gordon hate. It was easy because he was going to be 1 and done anyway…but now! with no juniors at all next year…NONE! EG had bllod on his hands for that.

    Him defecting is one thing. That’s unfortunately part of life in recruiting. but he had to be such a fucking, insufferable douche about it. waiting to the absolute last second. and leaving Weber’s hands tied. what a fucking asshole.

    like Wisch said in his latest CBS column, that left a TERRIBLE stain on the program for a class of recruits. Made us look damaged goods for a couple years.

    And fuck kelvin sampson too.

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