Smile Politely

Varmint Cong defeated; Illini still fighting for title

Man, it’s hard to imagine a worse beginning.

Mike Tisdale again got whistled for jumping the gun on the jump. And that pretty much set the tone.

As Minnesota leapt from the gate and began pummeling Illinois last night, I wondered, “How is it that this team has lost any games this year?” When Damian Johnson subbed-out at 12:46, he had outscored Illinois 12 to 9.
Damian Johnson threads the needle while varmint-faced teammate Colton Iverson looks for someone to pummel.

And then I got my answer. The first ten spectacular minutes? That was Minnesota’s gas. Once they burnt it, there was no more in the tank.


So even though Illinois spotted the Gophers ten minutes of effort-free basketball to open the game, the Illini cruised to victory, 52–41, at the Assembly Hall on Thursday night.

The only guy who played well for Illinois during that stretch was Chester Frazier, whose new haircut makes him look even more like a coach. (I’ll have to tell him about minoxidil.) Frazier, not known for highlight reel contributions, made spectacular plays on both ends of the floor — keeping a Big Ten Co-Championship statistically possible.
Mike Tisdale commits the game’s first turnover.

Eventually, Mike Davis got involved in the game, too. He picked up enough steam to collect yet another double-double. But he was the only Illini rebounding. The team got squished like a bug on the glass, 43 to 28.

Afterwards, Davis said the team will have to pick it up if they’re to have any chance against the country’s top rebounding squad, Sunday.

The Illini and Gophers finished about equally in another category representing physical play. But stats aren’t recorded for the non-called foul category. So it’s hard to be sure just how evenly the teams (didn’t) batter each other.

Frazier saw it being about even. He guessed that he’d committed three or four good, solid fouls. He finished, statistically, with none.
Referee Ted Valentine simply didn’t have a good angle from which to view Frazier’s
purloining of Damian Thomson’s wallet.
This, too, is clean. But, um … what’s Mike Davis doing?
What hand?
All ball.
For the sake of appearances, Jimm Burr eventually blew his whistle.

The forceful defensive effort shut down Johnson, who scored only six points for the rest of the game. Pushing, pulling, biting, etc. also held the Gophers to one of 14 shooting from three.  That’s 7.1%.

So once again, the physicality of a Big Ten basketball game ruined the potential for scoring. But you know what? You might not want to bring that up with coach Bruce Weber. In fact, it’s probably best to avoid any reference to scoring, or the Big Ten’s reputation.

He may throw a wobbler.


Tubby Smith’s offensive sets bewildered Illini defenders. On a few occasions, their bigs cleared out of the low post, and Gophers (Al Nolen, or Johnson, or Lawrence Westbrook) trotted right around Demetri McCamey for uncontested lay-ups.

Colton Iverson has a chance to make a lot of money playing basketball. If he does, he may be less stymied, on the ladies front.
Colton Iverson

How many Illini shots sailed over the rim? Surely someone kept count.

It’s a good thing Mike Davis does not suffer psychological trauma each time he gets his shot stuffed. Because it happens a lot.

There was no halftime entertainment, apart from the usual 12,000 or so people singing along with an invisible dancing Native American while the 4,000 newbs tried to figure out what the heck was going on.
We did get to see The Snake, along with his charmer.
Chester Frazier used the word “bald” in the postgame press conference.


I picked Pat Flannel out of the crowd. I had no idea she was connected to Dan Flannel,
whom I picked out of the crowd at West Lafayette. Weird.

Her Majesty Queen Vickie and Kevin Brinkman bought
team bench seats in an auction at

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