Ask an objective observer who’s visited every basketball arena in the B1G, and you’re likely to get a unanimous response. Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall is tops. The best, bar none. It’s a purpose-built basketball emporium.
For a team like the Illinois Fighting Illini, Assembly Hall II presents a magnificent opportunity for cruelty. 17,222 people — with perhaps 500 Illini fans sprinkled among them — means 16,722 despondent Hoosiers.
Saturday’s Illini performance took a scalpel to the beating, live heart of Indiana basketball, and harvested the organ.
Crushing the hopes of typical Indianans provides a cheap thrill. Brad’s lads did something far more perverse. Ripping the will from their opponents’ very souls, Da’Monte/Trent imposed long-term psychological damage on a group of nice guys who won’t finish last, but might (now that their souls have been ripped out) lose their next four straight, beginning with the Fuck You Miller Kopp, You Human Mediocrity festivities at Welsh-Ryan, Tuesday, 8pm CT, BTN (in case you don’t have anything else to do at 8 pm on Tuesday).
Saturday’s performance was workmanlike, a piecemeal performance-by-committee. Different dudes stepping up. A flash of Grandison to change fortunes. Alfonso extending the pain. Kofi converting at the worst possible moment for the locals. Trent finding his bag of nails, and putting a hammer to their coffin. The flashy moments buttressed by attention to details that always matter: ballhandling, defense & rebounding.
But until March, maybe April, we won’t be able to credibly say whether the Indiana outcome (like the Wisconsin outcome) was caused by the Illini.
Did Illinois convert 10-of-23 three-pointers because they set superior screens and threw better passes? Did Indiana miss 10 of its 13 arc attempts because the Illini consistently forced Indiana to rush their shots?
Ball Don’t Lie is predicated on individual outcomes, but championships are embedded in statistics. Wisconsin and Indiana converting three total attempts from the arc? That’s a coincidence, until it becomes a pattern.
For Illinois’s purposes, you want the Hoosiers to lose at Northwestern and MSU, which got pantsed Saturday at Rutgers. You then want the Hoosiers to beat tOSU on February 19.
As any competent dictator knows, its important to keep the victims demoralized.
As for schadenfreude, Indiana deserves every bit of bad karma it gets, as a collective. There’s a global pandemic afoot, and too many Hoosiers think it’s Fake News.
The SSAH public address announcer kept reminding Indiana fans that mask-wearing could keep crowds at The Skjodt. Those crowds invariably booed the message.
Brad Underwood delivered his postgame Q & A in a room full of aerosols, and two Q-Anon followers on the Twit poked fun at me for mentioning it.
Here’s the thing, assholes: Whether you believe in science or not, Fran McCaffery is away from his team right now, with COVID. If Brad or Brad’s Lads experience a symptomatic infection, they’ll be pulled from action as well, like Belo last week.
Do you want Illinois Basketball to compete for a title? Then stop listening to car salesmen and wrestlers for medical advice. The Illini don’t need a quarantined coach, a quarantined Kofi, a quarantined Trent.