You Can’t Spell Fighting Illini Without N. I. T.


By Paul Schmidt

All I could think about, as the Illini lost to Wisconsin 72-57, was Nirvana.

Which probably sounds odd.

Considering the song that kept replaying in my mind was, “I Hate Myself And Want To Die,” well, perhaps it’s not so crazy.

Let me also say that, before I get inundated with phone calls from family, I’m not talking about myself, just Illinois’ NCAA chances.

Because their self-loathing and lack of heart on the court caused them to lose 5 of 6 games down the stretch and play themselves right out of the NCAA Tournament.

Oh, sure, they could still win the Big Ten Tournament and garner an at large bid.

What kind of confidence should any of us have in that though??

No, I mean it, please.  Someone affiliated with the Illini program please explain this.  How does this team continually come out listless, with no energy?  Why is that a problem??  This Illinois team is, EASILY, one of the top 4 talented teams in the Big Ten.

So, please, someone take some accountability. How did we get here, the N. I. T., of all places?

Someone take the blame.

Bruce Weber, is it you?  You’ve shown a remarkable lack of ability  to motivate and coach this team well. Are you the one to blame?

Or, perhaps, Demetri McCamey.  Perhaps it’s you. It was, after all, you who had a nuke-yoo-lar meltdown in the waning minutes of the seasons’ most important game. You went 2-of-8 from the field, only had four assists, and committed the seasons’ most egregious foul, an intentional foul where you basically shoved Travon Hughes to the ground with no explanation. Then, when Bruce Weber called you out on it — very clearly, he told you, “That’s just B. S.” — you get into a shouting match that almost evolved into a shoving match on the bench.  You continued to argue with your HEAD FREAKING COACH until you were separated by a teammate — a freshman, DJ Richardson, for God’s sake — and then assistant coach Jerrance Howard. Is this one on you, Demetri?

Or maybe it’s just on the whole team. Do you guys care?  Does this team even care at all that they have underachieved so far that they are the laughingstock of the Big Ten?  They certainly don’t seem to. And where was the vaunted offense?  You guys talked all season about how dynamic your offense was…and in your season finale, a home game, Senior Day…you score 57 points. I mean…seriously guys…WTF???

Or maybe, this is actually my own fault.  Maybe I let expectations get the best of me.  Maybe I made fun of Dr. Chester Frazier for so long for pronouncing one of his own teammates dead (when he wasn’t) that I never did realize just how important he was to the Illini. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so confident this team would be a protected seed (top 4), maybe I shouldn’t have believed so ardently. Maybe this is all my fault.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been thinking of Nirvana, either. I probably should have been thinking of Slipknot.

OK, ok…no one should ever be thinking of Slipknot.  It’s a horrible idea. And yet…there’s a song off their newest release that at least sums up this whole day quite nicely.

Appropriately, it’s called “Snuff.”  Much like what happened to the Illini NCAA hopes today.

I couldn’t face a life without your light
But all of that was ripped apart
When you refused to fight…

So save your breath, I will not hear
I think I made it very clear
You couldn’t hate enough to love,
Is that supposed to be enough?
I only wish you weren’t my friend
So I could hate you in the end
I never claimed to be a saint…
My hope was banished long ago
It took the death of hope to let you go…”


  1. Michigan Basketball Program says

    how dare you call Illinois the laughing stock of the Big Ten. We have proudly earned that honor!!!!

  2. paulmbanks says

    I said 6 weeks ago…we’ll give this NIT season the best coverage it can eevr get. and I was right- it’s official now. what a clusterfuck! and what a bunch of sad sacks they played like down the stretch when it counted.

    but it wasn’t all bad, I really thought this winter, for personal reasons was going to be much tougher than it was, and those darker times, this Illini team had a couple big wins that gave me an emotional lift. Than a bunch of coll stuff happened to me that made my life better than it was when the new year started…so the Illini’s sucking diodnt bother me as much. of course, it would have been nice if they kept winning at the time that things got better for me. but hey thats life you can’t have it all.
    we’ll always have the kohl center, and espn gameday!!

    at least there’s closure now

  3. Paul Schmidt says

    We’ll always have Gameday…someone, somewhere, on the right coast….is smiling…

  4. Paul Schmidt says

    And…Umm…yeah, sorry UM basketball program. Sorry to take that from you. At least you have football to look….oh. Umm. Yeah. Right. Uhh…AWKWARD…

  5. Charley Davis says

    Relax kids. We just played the toughest 8 game stretch of any team in the country and went 3-5. It just as easily could have 1-7, but the much maligned Demetri was in the zone against MSU and UW the first time.

    The Illini reside on the bubble because we lost to Utah, Bradley, Georgia, Gonzaga, Northwestern on the road and Minnesota at home. Now we need to win the Big Ten Tournament to avoid sweating on Selection Sunday.

  6. Paul Schmidt says

    Agreed Charlie, but I believe you can’t discount losing by 15 at home to Wisconsin and something like a million to tOSU. ALSO…losing 5 out of 6….bad.

    Still, Lunardi still has us as the last team in the field…

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