Tip-off of Sunday night’s game was delayed briefly when courtside fans alerted referee Rob Kueneman of some grass on the court. There was enough grass to cause a running player (or referee) to slip and hurt himself. Kueneman called The Sweeper (The Broom Lad?) over to clean it up.
How did grass get on the court? Why was it still there at tip-time? Your guess is as good as mine.
Kueneman’s next notable contribution (apart from blowing a whistle when appropriate) came when Te’Jon Lucas lowered his shoulder, earning a charging call at the south end. “Come Big Ten play I’m going to need that call” Brad Underwood hollered from the bench.
“Fair enough,” responded Kueneman.
The other two referees were Courtney Green and Bo Boroski. It was a well-officiated game.
As for hollering, the Hollerer of the Game award goes to Skyhawks reserve Mike Fofana. The Orange Krush had a field day with Fofana after he exhausted himself hollering “who’s got shooter?” over and over and over again as various Illini attempted free-throws.
South-end photographers get to hear all the Krush offerings. Some are mundane, perhaps because they’re prepared. These offerings were spontaneous, demonstrating that individual Krush members can be pretty damned clever.
Two games in, we’re just getting to know our newcomers, and what they bring to the table.
Mark Alstork followed his 17-point debut with a 1-for-7 performance. But that one counted for three points. Nevertheless, he was an enthusiastic cheerleader for his teammates.
Da’Monte Williams speaks. I heard him say thanks to someone last night.
But for the most part, Da’Monte is The Silent Illini. His game displays a different variety of reserve. He’s simply not flashy. He moves very fast to get into position on defense, and that’s the kind of thing coaches adore. His proudest moment this weekend was taking a charge. As Leron Black screamed encouragement, Da’Monte’s grin spread from ear to ear.
Mark Smith’s game recalls Michigan State great Jason Richardson. Each has the ability to alter his shot in mid-air. That’s not terribly unusual. But each seems to leap without giving any indication that he has a particular angle in mind.
Smith waits ’til he gets a few feet into the air before deciding, for example, which hand to use, or whether to involve the backboard glass.
In short, he doesn’t telegraph his move. That makes it hard for defenders to read his body language.
Trent Frazier learned to play basketball among taller players, and you can tell. Like Te’Jon Lucas, Trent’s primary offensive weapon is the pull-up jumper.
Like Te’Jon, it’s his quick release that prevents taller defenders from closing in time. But Trent’s pull-up is a conventional jump-shot, whereas Te’Jon’s shot often leaves his hands before he’s achieved a conventional shooting posture.
Matic Vesel didn’t see the floor on Sunday. He burned his redshirt in garbage time Friday night. But in that time, he made a beautiful post-entry pass.
As the clock wound down, the (surprisingly large Friday night) crowd audibly encouraged Vesel to attempt a shot from the arc. For whatever reason, Matic abstained. He did dribble the ball a lot.
In his postgame remarks, Brad Underwood wondered aloud why it’s so hard to get Matic to shoot. Perhaps Matic has not yet realized the second-most exciting thing about Matic: He does not miss shots.
Finally, I’d like to make this observation, visually.