You probably know most of the relevant details of the 80-67 EIU triumph at Charleston last Friday. Jay Spoonhour and Brad Underwood agreed to hold an informal scrimmage, and use it as a practice.
Then, they each abandoned that plan and found themselves in a competitive brawl.
Now, here are the irrelevant details.
Before the game, Josh Whitman and Tommy Michael stood courtside, talking about various things. These two were the top contenders for the job Whitman eventually got. Michael was an associate athletic director before taking the top job at Eastern. He was an academic advisor in the DIA before that. It was good to see that no hard feelings came between the two re: that job search.
Michael was in a good position to know exactly what happened with Matt Bollant at Illinois.
He chose to hire Bollant to lead EIU women’s basketball. Keep that in mind when remembering Bollant’s tenure, if you think about women’s basketball at all.
An unexpected member of the audience was Machanda Hill, Malcolm’s mom. It turns out that she hasn’t seen enough Illini basketball, yet.
She sat in the corner of the upper deck along with Kipper’s mom Tanicia Porter and Aaron’s dad Rob Jordan. Rob didn’t enjoy the scrimmage as much as, say, Eastern Illinois fans.
Also sitting in an upper corner were Bob and Cheryl Easter, who had great seats when he was university president.
Cheryl continues to be a huge basketball fan. She didn’t mind sitting in the corner. Truth is, Lantz Arena doesn’t really have bad seats. Both Leron Black and Kipper Nichols said it felt like a high school gym.
That setting, and the backdrop it brings, might be the cause Illinois’ shooting woes.
Because EIU also hosted a women’s scrimmage, also for charity, there was no opportunity for an Illini shootaround in Charleston. Instead, the pre-game meal and shootaround took place in Champaign. The Illini then hopped on a bus for Charleston.
They never got a chance to acclimate to Lantz sightlines.
Perhaps the meal wasn’t enough, either. Mark Smith resorted to eating D’Angelo Jackson alive, both literally & figuratively.
Everyone reported that Lou Henson attended the game with lifelong friend Loren Tate (and Champaign golfer Joe Thompson).
But perhaps no one noticed the touching scene of Josh Whitman assisting Henson out of the building, late in the game (before the rush). With Whitman’s help. Lou beat the rush (and the court storming).
Tyler Underwood didn’t sit with the team. He sat behind the team.
He didn’t travel with the team. He traveled with the head coach’s family.
That’s because NCAA rules forbid transfers from traveling during their sit-out year, the same reason Rayvonte Rice watched that Gonzaga game in Champaign.
Tyler is appealing to the NCAA so he can play this year. If that doesn’t work out, he’ll probably travel to away games with his family, not his team.