COVID-19 Illini basketball

Down Time

Illinois was bad, and did what they need to do.

Brad Underwood walked into the locker room after watching a 14-point lead devolve into a 4-point deficit. He knew what he needed to say.

But Da’Monte Williams beat him to it: “Coach, we already talked about that. We’re good.”

Loose ball collector from Peoria

“When you don’t have to coach ’em — and they’re coaching themselves because they know — you’re in a good place.”

Let’s hope NIL money keeps Kofi Cockburn and Slim Jake in school next year. Because Trent and Da’Monte are gone, and without them, the future looks bleak from a defensive perspective, from a toughness perspective, and because there’s nothing more valuable than experience.

Get old and stay old only works if guys like Coleman Hawkins and RJ Melendez acquire oldness, and that means more than just practice. They must acclimate to the bright lights and the hostile crowds. But as long as this ’22 Illinois squad is in the running for a B1G championship, you can expect to see the same amount of tick for RJ (00:00) and Coleman (12:16) as they got against Maryland.

Illinois won because old, experienced guys decided they would win. They decided not to lose. They knew what to do to ensure the proper outcome.

It’s terrible for future purposes, but because nobody’s really sure whether the world will exist next week, that dire viewpoint is immaterial. This Illinois team is positioned to win a B1G championship, and possibly more. Yeah, Ayo’s gone. But so is Luka. So is Bo Ryan. So is John Beilein.

2022 is the best chance Illinois has had since 2005. Seriously. And you can love it because while Kofi and Plummer bring the glam, ‘Monte and Trent are bringing the dirt.

And with those roles assigned, nobody even notices Jake’s quiet 15 & 5.

Brad Underwood stopped Kofi & Trent in the landing, just outside the Media Room, after they’d answered our questions about the game. We could hear him saying something to Kofi about his reasons for keeping the National Player of the Year candidate on the bench for the majority of the first half.

Somehow, nobody asked exactly what was said in that moment. Underwood talked about his 2-foul philosophy, and added that he’d strayed from it. He talked about Maryland’s strategy versus Kofi, and how Minnesota had changed its entire defense to stymie Illini shooters while not even trying to contain the Jamaican Menace.

The truth about Thursday is that Maryland missed a lot of shots in the second half, even though they got a lot of open looks.

That’s not necessarily an indictment of Illinois strategy. Illinois sicced Da’Monte on Donta Scott, and Donta managed just 1-of-5 shots in the second half.

Sometimes it’s easier to identify the scoring threats, and contain them, rather than trying to defend an entire five-man unit.

Maryland’s scorers were known before tip-off, and while Eric Ayala and Hakim Hart got theirs, the Terps as a group were silenced for the last twelve minute of the game.


As Underwood left the media room Thursday, he poked fun at the regulars for not attending Wednesday’s pre-game presser. It was jest.

Nico, Bret, Doug, your humble servant and the new H&R guy Anderson Kimball were the lone attendees. It’s a combination of COVID and cold. The airlines cancelled thousands of flights. Thousands of others were delayed.

Dos & Doz

Turns out, Richey’s return flight was cancelled, and he got a lift with Piper and Joey, whose lack of progress across the frozen north was chronicled on Twitter. Illini Report looked at the weather forecast, and more particularly at the flights situation, and pocketed the postponement vouchers from United and Southwest rather than rebooking after the Sunday game was pushed to Tuesday. ( did not offer a cancellation or credit for two unspent nights at The Graduate-Dinkytown)

Tyler (Walkon) told us that Robert’s return on Amtrak was delayed 12 hours. That seems about right for Amtrak. Illini Report also enjoys the train, and expects it to never be on time.

If you like reading about Illini sports, these are the people who bring you the material. We try to show up. Sometimes, in the dead of winter, it’s a challenge. But it’s especially hard during a plague.

That being said …


Illini Report has sussed the audio problem with livestreaming on YouTube. Maybe it will continue to work. It’s hard to tell.

Both audio and video were great during the Kofi/Trent portion of the Maryland postgame press conference. Then, for some reason, the video quality degraded after the players left.

So the Brad portion of the Maryland postgame looks bad. I assume it’s a bandwidth issue.

I further assume it became bad because photogs began transmitting enormous ZIP files to wire services, newspapers and websites. eating up available WiFi bandwidth.

Andre Curbelo said words to Eric Ayala during a time-out.

At SFC, photographers work in the sole Media Room. Many B1G and pro sports venues have a separate workroom for photographers. SFC won’t ever have such a room, because we’ve already had our renovation, and every bit of space already has a purpose. SFC already had its big WiFi upgrade, too. So the only remaining hope is that the Media Room gets hardwired for Ethernet at all the workstations that line the outer walls.

Point is, lots of time & thought (and wiring) have gone into the ongoing attempt to bring HQ HD A/V to you, in real time.

But here’s what I noticed the last couple of days: My friends at Illini Inquirer grabbed the DIA’s upload of the Maryland pre-game and postgame from (DIA’s choice of file sharing tech, some B1Gs use Google Drive instead) and those got more views than the videos created by conference attendees.

It’s certainly fair game. The Terrapins Zooms you’re seeing at Illini Report were gathered the same way, as were much of last year’s material.

Because Illini Inquirer is now the dominant force in local sports reporting, Jeremy Werner and Co. can get a thousand clicks for a video published six hours later than the same material published elsewhere.

Bully for them. Jeremy is the best reporter on the beat, and he’s done an amazing job in building his multi-media group from the days when Illinois Scout was a punching bag.

But if they can get more views for a press conference that none of them attended, it makes the rest of us wonder why we bother. That’s bad news for Rivals. Loyalty the new Illini Guys and the websites attached to all the remaining newspapers covering Illinois sports.

So while remembering that Jeremy (and Joey and Piper) are bringing you the most complete coverage, and are all very nice people to boot, click on the rest of us now and then, just to keep things interesting.