Illini Basketball

About Rome

There’s no shame in losing to the big, butch Dutchmen. They were older, taller, quicker and they executed their schemes better than the Illini. If not for Ayo, the Illini would have lost by 25.

After the game, the Dutchmen did yoga

Nobody else could buy a basket, and Giogi had a difficult time with the Dutch bigs, and missed a lot of shots he generally makes against mid-level B1G teams. Illinois ran a couple of gorgeous sets, and those schemes would have been effective if the lads hadn’t kept bricking their lay-ups. Three-pointers flew wide of the basket, or clanged off the rim. It was not pretty.

The guy who looked like a more muscular Aaron White, and the guy who looked like a faster Fess Hawkins, were bigger than anyone available for Illinois. The #5 point guard, who looked like Nate Mast in the videos, was probably 6’2″ and would certainly be listed at 6’3″ in American college basketball.

Their wings cut sharply. Team sets, expertly run, got wide-open looks. The Dutchmen displayed excellent shooting form, and their shots didn’t waste any time grazing the rims. It’s surprising that the score was so close. But then again, for most of the game, it wasn’t.

You’ve read that the gym was 90-something degrees. Eventually, from a style perspective, the writer grows weary of typing “the gym was really hot.” I even felt embarrassed asking Kelsea Gartoff, for the fourth consecutive meeting “is it even hotter in here this time?” I always enjoy the banter with Kelsea, so I felt I was letting her down with such predictable dialogue.

Something that’s gone unmentioned, but might be obvious from the videos at is that repeated clock malfunction kept the Illini from developing any kind of flow. At the end of the first half, the local referees decided to ignore the clock altogether.

Rome is a dump.

When I left you last time, I was contemplating the utility of driving back from Livorno to Firenze, arriving around midnight, only to be back on the bus the next morning for a three-hour drive to Roma. The team is still in Roma, of course. And they will be tomorrow. So the utility, I suppose, was learning how to play on short rest, in a hellish environment, against a superior opponent. This experience might come in handy down the road, but only for those members of the 2019-20 Illini who experienced it.

From my current perspective, sitting in Flindt & Ørsted Café in Ørstedsparken, I’m just now fully appreciating the stupidity of playing basketball, in Italy, in August.


It’s 69.8 degrees here, with a light breeze.

Maybe Denmark doesn’t care about basketball. But surely there’s somewhere in northern Europe where the team could have found a worthy opponent?

The downside, perhaps, is that hotels in Scandanavia are expensive. Italy is cheap. And they couldn’t house the team in a charming AirBnB.

My Danish apartment

But of course, cost was not the issue. Heck, they paid for four entire humans to be here, none of whom participated in the games, and three of whom didn’t come at all.

Okay, enough kvetching. The video of the Nederland B game, on its own, is probably worth the cost. Brad Underwood can play it over and over again, showing each guy where he should have cut, why his man eluded him, etc.

After that Roma game, Underwood had a long talk with the team. He wasn’t angry. He probably foresaw those video sessions, despite having seen the live version from a folding chair in the corner (from which he occasionally burst forth to holler).

And he also sat alone with Tevian Jones, in two folding chairs at the far side of the gym, as the rest of the team made its way toward the team bus, in yet another of those Tevian Master Class sessions I wrote about the other day.

Maybe some day we’ll contemplate the Tevian Sessions, and understand what they nurtured.