2020 Illinois Basketball Appreciation Thread

#26
Springfield
Been an Illini fan for 65 years and this is one of the top five most enjoyable seasons ever. Watching these kids learn and grow older together over the past 3 seasons is what it is all about for me. More importantly, they returned the fight to the Fighting Illini and reflecting a level of competence that is acceptable to all. Many have said it often....they want to get old and stay old in order to compete. Four year players is the answer for most teams and I would be happy to see five stars allowed to play out of high school resulting in a better college game for all.

We have no idea what the next year will bring to the sports world, but I hope I am around to see a Kofi led Illini team fight for a B1G title next year. They will have a veteran laden team with talented newcomers filling in and learning quickly...the way programs are built and good players learn to become great players without getting their confidence shattered.

My personal thanks to a great group of Illini hoopsters for a remarkable season....and especially to graduating srs. Andes Feliz and Kipper Nichols who I wish the best in all their future endeavors.
 
#28
During the MSU game at the hall, a phantom call was made on Ayo going for a loose ball. From my seat I see Underwood explode from his seat heading for the ref. OA jumps in front of BU and wrestles him back to his seat.

I was reminded of an old basketball cliché that teams take on the personality of their coach. This team would have fought anybody for each other and we loved them for it.

To think, we were one 30 footer and 1 block out from being undisputed Big ten champs. Love these guys.
 
#30
Got my new gear in the mail today with intent to wear it tomorrow in Indy and with any location luck, to the NCAA. Randomly suggested on Twitter I’m going to wear it tomorrow and post on social media to thank the team. Glad for all to join me. #fightingillinifriday
 
#31
My heart breaks for all the seniors.....but especially Kipper. I would be the first to point out when "Bad Kip" showed up for a game. He caught a lot of heat from us. But that dude stuck it out. Coaching change.....heat from the fans......coming off the bench(some games he played minimal minutes). But he came around at the end of the season. He played hard and always with that smile. His dedication to this team and university was deserving of a trip to the dance. Sometimes life is not fair.
 
#32
My heart breaks for all the seniors.....but especially Kipper. I would be the first to point out when "Bad Kip" showed up for a game. He caught a lot of heat from us. But that dude stuck it out. Coaching change.....heat from the fans......coming off the bench(some games he played minimal minutes). But he came around at the end of the season. He played hard and always with that smile. His dedication to this team and university was deserving of a trip to the dance. Sometimes life is not fair.
I was the same way with Kipper, but his postgame interview after the Iowa win was one of the most humble, classy things I've seen any athlete do in a long while. Made me a fan of his for life
 
#33
Hopefully, we go on to many years of success under Brad Underwood along with some of these players and many new ones, but this is the group that restored Illinois basketball to what it should be. A press release went out yesterday saying that ratings for our games on BTN increased by 51 percent last year. These guys took the existing group of appointment-watch fans and grew it by half. Even our greatest teams of my lifetime didn't show a jump like that.

The release also said the Sunday night win over Iowa was the second-most watched regular season game in BTN history. At least a big audience has this to remember the 2019-2020 Fighting Illini.

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The end of this most made my eyes water. 2nd most watched in BTN history. What a shame for these men and our country as a nation. This is going to be dangerous, panicking, and I sincerely hope a time to bring all of us together. It starts in little community's, churches, cities, counties, and states. The Federal government is not the answer. It's in our connected Universities and communities. Solving local problems and us helping each other.... Finally, we have got to be a country that makes our own medical equipment, medicine, and supplies. This can be a changing moment in our country's history. God bless all of you and your families.
 
Likes: chiefini
#34
Got my new gear in the mail today with intent to wear it tomorrow in Indy and with any location luck, to the NCAA. Randomly suggested on Twitter I’m going to wear it tomorrow and post on social media to thank the team. Glad for all to join me. #fightingillinifriday
I like that idea alot, I'll rock my Kendall Gill jersey too
 
Likes: haasi
#35
South Carolina
I'm going old school for a pertinent comparison, retro to the last time we had a comparable lull in the program similar to this recent 10-year stretch.......

This current group (the entire 2019-20 roster) takes me back to the guys who formed the building blocks in helping us re-establish the program in the 1980's. Audi Matthews, Levi Cobb, Steve Lanter, Rob Judson, Neil Bresnahan, Eddie Johnson, Mark Smith and Derek Holcomb (to name just a select few). The elite program that Lou established in the 1980's followed soon after their arrival, but these guys chose Illinois when other options may have been the more popular choice.

Ayo, Kofi, DeMonte, Andres, Alan and the gang are the guys who did it. Illinois is a basketball school and we need basketball to be consistently GREAT year-in and year-out. Illinois needs again be a Top 10 Program of All-time.

Thanks to Brad and the 2019-20 Illini for duplicating that feat (from the late 1970's) and turning the needle upward once again in terms of promise and potential. The word Elite gets overused (i.e. Michigan State and Izzo's 20-year run is truly elite). That's where we need to get. The process has begun.
 
#36
I'm going old school for a pertinent comparison, retro to the last time we had a comparable lull in the program similar to this recent 10-year stretch.......

This current group (the entire 2019-20 roster) takes me back to the guys who formed the building blocks in helping us re-establish the program in the 1980's. Audi Matthews, Levi Cobb, Steve Lanter, Rob Judson, Neil Bresnahan, Eddie Johnson, Mark Smith and Derek Holcomb (to name just a select few). The elite program that Lou established in the 1980's followed soon after their arrival, but these guys chose Illinois when other options may have been the more popular choice.

Ayo, Kofi, DeMonte, Andres, Alan and the gang are the guys who did it. Illinois is a basketball school and we need basketball to be consistently GREAT year-in and year-out. Illinois needs again be a Top 10 Program of All-time.

Thanks to Brad and the 2019-20 Illini for duplicating that feat (from the late 1970's) and turning the needle upward once again in terms of promise and potential. The word Elite gets overused (i.e. Michigan State and Izzo's 20-year run is truly elite). That's where we need to get. The process has begun.
Well said. Next year will be a huge year to make sure we keep the momentum going forward with this.
 
#37
Thank you guys for an incredible season. Although you probably feel like you weren’t able to leave your mark (the way that you wanted); you actually did leave your mark. You will forever be the team that made us relevant again. The team that brought us back, but never got it’s chance. We will never forget your names and the way that you played. I-L-L
 
#41
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Deserves its own space (and then some).

Tournament or not, this will be a team that sticks with me for as long as I'm a fan. Set aside for a second how fun they were to watch, how poised they were late in games, how they thrived on the road, how they attacked the glass in a way I've watched so many teams do from afar with envy - this team truly gave college basketball "back" to me (and I'm sure many of you) after a long time of feeling like I was on the outside looking in.

I'm sure they are all reeling and disappointed right now. But this team didn't need a postseason to accomplish something that will last for a long time - if they (understandably) don't realize that yet, I hope they do soon.

I-L-L
Man, that's well-said. Thanks. Captured exactly how I feel: "truly gave college basketball back to me." I'll remember this team for a long time.

POTY
 
#42
Chevy Chase, Maryland
We do, Trent. We know you worked your tails off. And you kept fighting, scrapping and balling no matter what happened. Not a single time at the end of a game this season did I say to myself "these guys quit." Never. I'm going to remember a lot about this team. It's tenacity and grit will be the most prominent to me.
 
#43
Hasn't really set in yet that we wont get to watch any more Illini basketball this year. Loved every minute of this season, thank you Illini.
 
#44
We could not get this program to the place we all want this team to be without the hard work and dedication of this team - it's just not possible. There was a seismic shift in the culture of the program and not n easy one to accomplish. I'm most proud of our guys for staying together through the adversity (coming off our worst season in program history). They stayed together mentally and did the work to get just a little better each game. It would have been much easier to just give up. As others have mentioned, this team brought Illinois basketball back to where it belongs - this includes BU and the rest of our fine coaching staff that made significant adjustments and fostered a winning cuture. Thank you all for a memorable program-changing season!
 
#45
This team was special. I think they were most special for their belief in themselves that they could turn around a program when it was far from sniffing any success for a while. They are the ones that truly bet on BU, the staff, and the university could really point things in the right direction! That takes guts, that takes moxy, that takes self-confidence. There were some that didn't want that pressure or were willing to bet their careers on it and I get it. But this group of guys that did and outperformed their expectations many times over....I think that says volumes about who they are and what they mean to fans like us. Thank you 2019-2020 team for helping to make this University that we tie our identity with, relevant again!
 
#49
New York
would love for someone to make an hour long documentary about our team this season. with all of these sports networks having nothing to do and people itching for content, would think it would play well. Pretty easy to put together- video from games combined with a few interviews of players coaches and some fans. Could probably come together in a few weeks.