Smile Politely

Gift ideas for the Illini fan in your life

A fantastic first half withered away for Illinois, as defensive errors allowed Notre Dame to cruise to an 84-79 win. After leading by 8 points at the break, Illinois’s strong defensive effort crumbled and allowed Demetrius Jackson to take control of the game for the Irish. After the game John Groce said his team’s effort was not good enough and he needed to see them giving more effort.

In the spirit of giving, I’ve put together Smile Politely’s gift guide for Illini fans for the 2015 holiday season. It has been rough going so far this season, but these gifts could make your loved ones’ holiday a lot better.

For the Illini fan who just wants to see some pictures of the renovated State Farm Center and Illinois honoring Lou Henson.

Here’s a photo gallery, you’re done!

[gallery illinois-notre_dame]

For the Illini fan who thinks everything is awful, who was maybe upset at some rude usher at the game last night, and wants to see a personnel overhaul.

A competent athletic director: Paul Kowalczyk is probably a nice guy, but the first item on this list a no-brainer. The Cubit debacle aside, after losing to Notre Dame the Illini (3-5) will likely have to win out their nonconference schedule AND win 11 Big Ten games this season to get even a sniff of an NCAA Tourney berth; missing out would likely give the next AD a chance to turn things over for the basketball team, so your gift could really have an impact. Average college ADs make roughly $515,000, so if you have a spare half-mil to spend on your loved one this season, consider investing in someone with half a brain that could run the Illini.

For fans upset with the way Illinois played in the second half, allowing Demetrius Jackson to score 17 and Zach Auguste to grab 10 rebounds in the half.

Waitmate: There’s no antidote for bad winter sports like good spring sports, and in recent years, spring sports have been the only Illini sports worth watching. With that in mind, Waitmate is the ideal gift for the Illini fan on your list. With just a few (dozen) pills, the drudgery of the winter sports will evaporate. Maverick Morgan starting and getting just 1 rebound? Like it never happened! Illinois losing despite a 15:3 turnover-to-assist ratio? Surely that didn’t occur! Your loved one will wake up to truly great baseball, tennis, and golf action, all in the warm spring sun!

For the fan that wanted a Mike Thorne Jr. jersey or still hasn’t given away his or her Tracy Abrams jersey.

Mandrake Restorative Draught: It may be too late to share this elixir with Mikey Dudek or any of the injured football players, but the men’s basketball team has had more injuries per capita than a leper colony so far this season. A few slugs of Mandrake’s, however, would get this team back on the right track. Healthy versions of Tracy Abrams and Mike Thorne Jr., as well as healthier versions of…uh…everyone else, might just be worth watching!

For fans upset Illinois’ best player, Malcolm Hill, had just 6 field goal attempts before the final 30 seconds of the game.

World’s largest puzzle: Got a room in your house with nothing in it and an Illini fan beating his or her head against a wall? This is the gift for you. I can’t think of anything that will magically get Hill more looks or stop defenses from keying in on him. So, set that fan of yours down in front of this monster puzzle and watch gamedays slip by without even being noticed. Soon enough Illini sports will be a distant memory as your loved one’s entire life becomes devoted to finishing this puzzle.

For fans who got wistful upon seeing so many former Illini come out to honor Lou Henson.

Michael’s Secret Stuff: The current Illini roster is no Flyin’ Illini, that’s for sure. So get the Illini fan on your list a little bit of Michael’s Secret Stuff to spray on any Illini player he or she comes in contact with. If it can elevate the Tune Squad over the Monstars (who magically stole the ability of some of the game’s best players of all time, like Muggsy Bogues), it certainly could help Jaylon Tate score a single point or Alex Austin connect on a three or the Illini not finish last in the Big Ten.

For the Illini conspiracy theorist on your list.

A new mascot and/or nickname: The idea of ancient Native American curses is absurd and offensive, so I’m not suggesting that all of Illinois’s recent struggles are due to a curse. But maybe there’s some bad karma lingering from having a white dude dress up in Native drag and dance around? Hell, it’s not the craziest idea to explain this season. Adidas has offered to help any high school still using a Native American mascot free design resources to replace their name and logo with something less culturally insensitive. Sure, Illinois is a Nike school, but maybe they’ll want to stay competitive and offer the same service. Worth a shot.

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