The spread was 11 points. Rutgers lost by 12.
Now, let’s talk about the non-controversial stuff
Darius Paul was driven to drink by the NCAA. He tested positive for a substance that’s known for its non-toxic medicinal properties. Given a dire warning to stay away from this natural, herbal tonic, he took to a poison that’s legal and toxic. How does that make sense?
I’m not an advocate of marijuana. I’ve tried it. It makes me paranoid, dizzy, uncomfortable.
It works much better for my brother-in-law, who’s 12 years into his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. He gets it legally, by prescription. It helps with pain and muscle tension.
Marijuana, and the stupid laws restricting it, have made a huge impact here in C-U, just recently.
If you don’t live in Champaign-Urbana, you may not know the news that gripped campus over the last few days. A student named Vicente Mundo was shot in the back of the head, and killed. His body was dumped north of Tolono. A vigil — and a massive effort to locate him, in the days preceding the discovery of his body — were the talk of the town.
On Tuesday, news broke that two men had been arrested & arraigned for first-degree murder.
Vicente Mundo was murdered for a small amount of marijuana, and a small amount of money. If marijuana sales were legal in Illinois, he’d be alive.
New Governor Bruce Rauner is doing what he can to facilitate sales & distribution of marijuana in Illinois. The general assembly voted medical marijuana legal last year. Urbana (and Ann Arbor and Madison) decriminalized marijuana long ago, reducing harsh penalties to wrist-slaps that cost users less than a craft beer or premium cocktail.
Having charged the alleged killers, and after joining a press conference featuring all the local law-enforcement agencies involved in the investigation; State’s Attorney Julia Rietz attended the Rutgers game, and said it was the perfect way to cap a long day. (Perhaps she meant sleep-inducing. The game was like marijuana, in that sense.)
Given all this tumult, it seemed like a good time to speak up about marijuana and the student-athlete.
There’s conjecture that Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby were suspended for using marijuana. If they had, they’d be typical college students. They’d also be typical medical patients, recovering from injuries.
But in fact, Ray and Cos were not smoking doobies. Their suspension has nothing to do with illegal drugs. They enjoyed some nightlife at a time when they were expected to set a good example for their younger teammates, by staying in, perhaps watching some scouting materials, and getting a great night’s sleep.
Neither Rice nor Cosby had any possibility of seeing action in a game at the time of the “infraction,” so perhaps a bit of R&R felt to them like a harmless change of pace.
It’s comparing apples to orange basketballs. Staying up all night and getting drunk may not lead to great athletic performance. But it’s had negligible impact on athletes’ ability to sit on a bench.
John Groce got a freebie for Message Sending purposes, because the duration of the “indefinite suspension” will fit nicely with the recovery time for each player’s injury. By the time John Beilein brings his Caris LeVert-less Woverines to town for a bit of revenge, you can expect Ray and Cos to be part of that ass whoopin’.
COULDN’T BE HAPPIER FOR KENNY BATTLE
Bardo’s Flyin’ Illini teammate Kenny Battle (whose individual flyin’ led to the moniker, let’s be honest) was on hand Tuesday.
Battle is famous for his effort. A yearly award is given, in his name, to the Illini player who displays the greatest hustle. True to that nature, Battle has kept working on his latest cause. It’s his daughter, Ty. He wants you all to know how proud he is of Ty, now a sophomore in Joliet.
You’ll remember, he was adamant about this subject last year as well.
Ty’s dad says she’s averaging a double-double, and has her choice of an all-expenses-paid college education. “Everybody wants her.”
I was thrilled to capture a picture of Battle and Rayvonte Rice together. They are kindred Illini. Perhaps the best players of their era, both started as under-appreciated, thought to be undersized mid-majors. Battle at NIU of the MAC, and Rice at Drake of the Valley.
NOW, ABOUT THAT BORING GAME
The reason BTN2GO stuck you with a 9:30 p.m. slot on a Tuesday night, dear Rutgers basketball fan, is that you don’t exist.
The reason you, Illinois fan, were stuck with a late Tuesday game is that you fall into two categories. You will either do anything to see the Illini play, or you are waiting for Illinois to return to relevance. They’ve got you either way.
Tens, possibly dozens of you descended upon the State Farm Center on Tuesday. Hundreds more watched the game on TV.
They saw a balanced scoring attack, a future NBA project, Gene Steratore making friendly with the Orange Krush, and Austin Colbert.
Ahmad Starks took fewer off-balance shots. He made more shots.
Leron Black collected the garbage. He connected on 5-of-6 shots, for 12 points. Intriguingly, he grabbed only two rebounds in 21 minutes.
Kendrick Nunn grabbed six rebounds. He was the alpha and the omega of this game, converting all his free-throws, and adding four assists (five if you count the beautiful post-entry pass that Nnanna Egwu kicked).
Nnanna, by the way, played through an injury that required special attention from trainer Paul Schmidt. It happened on the defensive possession that (unfairly) resulted in Nnanna’s second foul (when a Scarlet Knight tripped over Nnanna’s prone body).