Illini basketball

Purdue review – just a coupla thoughts

I love this new gig, where I can choose when & whether to publish.

I know people don’t like reading about losses. They’re not as fun to write about either — unless it’s time to fire the coach. Then they’re fun.

It’s not time to fire the coach. Settle down.

Now that the sting has worn off, I want to share just a few tidbits about Saturday’s game at Mackey Arena. These are things that wouldn’t have come across on TV.


In a game decided by five points, every possession is crucial. The Illini got jobbed out of at least two possessions at Mackey, perhaps because referees are susceptible to psychology, just like the rest of us.

In both cases, referees couldn’t or didn’t see the play. In both cases Bill Ek and Donnie Eppley signaled to each other for help in rendering a ruling. Each appeal for help resulted in a dramatic, emphatic ruling for Purdue. I saw both plays clearly, from my seat on the baseline. Both times, Purdue knocked the ball out of bounds.

The first time, it was Rapheal Davis who scooped the ball from a prone Rayvonte Rice, but lost control.

The second time came in the closing minutes, when Illinois furiously clawed its way back to a two possession game.

Austin Colbert was the baseline defender. Dakota Mathias was the inbound guy. An errant/risky Mathias pass, batted out of bounds by its intended recipient, never came close to touching anyone in orange.

Colbert was so shocked by the ruling that he covered his face with his jersey, to prevent himself from an assessed technical foul. But he campaigned for a reversal throughout the succeeding inbound play.

Illinois’ jobbing in Austin (March 2013) resulted in a rule change. Replay video may be used in the final two minutes of games. Why not use replay video to determine calls on plays that refs can’t see?

I don’t doubt that Ek and Eppley ruled for Purdue because Matt Painter rode their asses for forty minutes, and they simply wore down. Painter is 6’4″ and intimidating.

John Groce will never get the calls Painter gets.  He’s too short.

Refs will laugh at pipsqueaky Pat Chambers, and run his Nittany teams out of the gym on bad, perhaps even biased calls. But they won’t fuck with Painter. He’s too intimidating. It’s simple human nature. They’re scared of him.

That’s probably the reason Painter’s teams continue to get away with incessant hand-checking, in the year that everyone else in college ball opted for zone defense to comply with the “new emphasis” on hand-checking violations.

Lamont Simpson has been around for a while. He didn’t seem to cave to Painter.


I wasn’t alive when Bob Starnes’s full court shot beat Northwestern. There are probably some other great moments from the pre-video era. I was on hand to see Efrem Winters windmill dunk against Minnesota, and it was as amazing as its legend suggests.

I was also on hand for Matt Heldman’s half-court lob to Awvee Storey. I saw two entire years of Kenny Battle. Those are all amazing memories.

Visit Furniture Lounge for vintage St Patty’s Day gear.


You all saw the Rayvonte Rice dunk Saturday. But you probably didn’t hear it. The crashing sound on the steel rim hurt my ears. Moreover, the camera angle fails to convey the improbable physics of the play. Kendrick Nunn threw the ball. He didn’t toss it. The ball was traveling at speed.

The ball was still going up when Ray corralled it. Ray had to get eleven to twelve feet into the air to grab that ball.  The rest was a matter of gravity, but it happened really fast. That is, the time elapsed between Ray attaining possession and the crashing sound was barely visible.

Even slo-mo doesn’t really capture the feat. IlliniProductionsHD photographer Jason Marry said “that should be a crime” or “Ray should be charged with a crime” or something along those lines.  We all laughed.


I don’t.  I just hate this one particular guy.

The people who work at Mackey Arena are friendly. Their 2nd year SID is running the best, most accessible media operation in the conference. They always give us a lot of Puccini’s Smiling Teeth pizza.

I like Lafayette. Heather and I had a great blackened salmon and excellent escargot at Bistro 501 after the game. The campus looks just like ours, and they even have a Krannert building. Great engineering school. They hate the Hoosiers. What’s not to like?

Well, there’s this one guy. Thanks to the First Amendment, I can present him to you for your vilification and identification. Frankly, he brought it on himself.

A seasoned cameraman (I’ll leave his name out) said “Purdue has the angriest fans in the Big Ten. They’re just really angry.” Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s a trickle-down effect from the Keady years.  Gene Keady had anger issues. Maybe Painter does, too although I really like his thoughtful demeanor in postgame.

I think the cameraman’s remark was influenced by that one guy. I think that one guy has held the same season ticket, in the same spot, for some time. And he’s spewed hatred ever since he arrived.

On Saturday, as the final seconds trickled away, this asshole yelled “NIT Ray Rice! Have fun in the NIT!”

Ray is a great player, a great entertainer, a good student, a guy who defied consistent and continual underestimation.

If you’re a good person, and a good sportsman, you have to love Ray.

It makes me glad to see, at the end of every college basketball event, the opposing players and their families socializing. It happens after fans have been booted from the venues, while game-day staff are sweeping aisles and folding chairs.

There’s no hatred. It’s not just good sportsmanship. These people are friends. They know each other from high school, from AAU, from carpools and team camps.

I wish the fans could behave as well. Why couldn’t the Mackey Asshole simply savor the victory?

Rayvonte Rice will end a great career without an NCAA Tournament appearance. That sucks for Ray. As a college basketball fan, of any team, is that something you really want to rub in his face?