Illini Basketball

The Slippery Spot

Now that the medical report is in, some of you are surely wondering why Ayo hit the deck, rather than the game-winning shot.

Did he, for example, slip on a wet patch? Was there, for example, some dripped perspiration left after a timeout huddle?

And why do teams huddle on the court anyway?

If you hadn’t known but always wondered, yes; the NCAA has a rule about timeout huddles. And that’s the reason teams meet on the court, rather than remaining on the bench.

Art. 2. During any timeout or before any extra period, bench personnel and players shall locate themselves inside an imaginary rectangle formed by the boundaries of the sideline (including the bench), end line and an imaginary line extended from the free-throw lane line nearest the bench area meeting an imaginary line extended from the 28-foot line.

2019-20 NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules and Interpretations, Rule 4, Section 3, Article 2

Somebody probably thought it was a good idea. Perhaps a better idea is to give teams a choice. Huddle on the bench or on the court, whichever works best for you.

One can imagine that visiting teams might want to get away from heckling student sections. That would be true at Iowa and Michigan, where the Hawk’s Nest and Maize Rage are three feet from the visitor’s bench.

But at Purdue and Indiana, the team’s bench is surrounded by friendly boosters and parents. It varies from place to place.

Moreover, teams figure out how to harass their guests within any rules paradigm. At Iowa, for example, a mid-timeout contest features fans lobbing half-court shots at the visitors goal. A few ball-hawkers are assigned to prevent long rebounds from striking the backs of visitors heads. Perhaps not enough.

But maybe Ayo’s near-tragic landing wasn’t a matter of moisture. As I’ve written here before, Ayo falls a lot. He frequently lands hard.

I’ve often winced when he lands on a hip, or his coccyx. I feel less fearful when he lands on me, because I’m relatively soft.

Part of my concern stems from Ayo’s slight build. If you’ve only seen him on TV, you might not perceive his slenderness. It’s part of what makes him so quick. He’s built like a greyhound.

Maybe his bones and joints are just as sturdy as bigger bones and joints. They’re certainly smaller.

’til Tuesday, he’d seemed to dodge that bullet. But the ground finally caught up with him.

Don’t expect any updates on his physical condition today or tomorrow. Rutgers is undefeated at home. There’s no reason to help with their scouting report.