At Illini Madness, Joseph Bertrand Displays Regained Athleticism


In the grand scheme of things, does Midnight Madness mean anything? Probably not.

It is a marketing ploy to get students excited about the basketball season by allowing the players to show off absurd moves and dunks that likely have no place in a formal Bruce Weber practice.

For example, D.J. Richardson tried to teach Huff Hall how to dougie at Illinois‘ Midnight Madness Friday night.

But Illinois fans did get a pleasant surprise at Midnight Madness in the form of redshirt freshman Joseph Bertrand, who  won the knockout and slam dunk contests. While the contests were mostly a dog and pony show, Bertrand – who sat out all of last year with a torn lateral meniscus – flashed the athleticism that helped him win two IHSA Class 3A slam dunk championships as a junior and senior at Sterling high school.

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Illini Hoops Media Day Notable Quotables (Videos)


Last season, the Illinois Fighting Illini were one of the most schizophrenic teams in the Big Ten, if not the nation.

They beat Michigan State, a Final Four team in an emotional ESPN College Gameday event, and won at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center, where almost no one beats the Badgers. They also had Ohio State, a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament on the ropes in the conference tournament semis before angering/motivating Evan Turner, the man who swept last year’s national player of the year awards, to extinguish their NCAA hopes in double overtime.

I also watched from press row on my birthday as the Illini lost a “play-in game” of sorts at home to Minnesota, and heard them fumble away early season games to Utah and Bradley on a neutral court.

So this year it’s all about finding consistency and finding a true identity. Especially since expectations are bubbling up in Champaign. They have a loaded senior class in place, a talented sophomore class, and highly nationally ranked incoming freshmen.

If they learn to defend better, it could be a special year.

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Illini Take Down Salukis, Win Game They Should Have

In the end it was a win that the Illini HAD to have.

Given the events of September 11th, 2010, it was far from a sure thing. [Read more…]