2020 Illinois Basketball Appreciation Thread

#51
Chevy Chase, Maryland
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.
Great comment. I feel exactly the same. I became an Illini fan in the early '80s and was on campus from '84-'90. I want all the younger fans who missed out on those many years of consistent excellence to enjoy it again. ASAP.
 
#53
South Carolina
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.
Way beyond my competency level -- but an outstanding idea!
 
#54
Thank you to our ILLINI team, thanks for the roller coaster season of seasons, ironically ending this way. Seniors, thank you so much for leading/aiding the resurrection of ILLINI basketball, to us fans it truly means the world to us. Andre/Kipper/Samson/Tyler, to your future endeavours, families, and professional choices-good luck, blessings, and always know the ILLINI family is here for you.

Ayo, why not me, turned out to be thankful for us. You were the kid to lead this turn around, Trent you were an out of state recruit that came in a ball of fury for us (needed) and PG us back to a top of the tier standing again. Giorgi, an unheralded player who starred as a freshman when we were in dire need....your play was infectious, but not nearly as much as your personality and love for another.

Kofi, a man-child playing in arguably the top conference in America and owning most that he played against...we see you Kofi, you are a stud, keep growing skill wise and we/you will be rewarded next year. AG, you've come along way from just being heralded a shooter, you have a knack for the ball, the toughness to win almost any matchup...keep improving, check some of that emotion as well as you check some other players.

DMW, one of my favorites, your father made his own path to ILLINI greatness and now you are in a whole different way. You are your fathers son and an ILLINI one as well!

Transfers, we look forward to seeing what you actually can bring to advance us farther yet, thank you for becoming ILLINI and look forward to another fun ride next year.
 
#56
Baja Ontario
It was "must see" basketball again and the many, many extraordinary moments will be lasting memories to be revisited and revisited again. But the one element that will stick with me the most is Andres Feliz. He has been everything I could possibly want as an Illini.
 
#57
It was "must see" basketball again and the many, many extraordinary moments will be lasting memories to be revisited and revisited again. But the one element that will stick with me the most is Andres Feliz. He has been everything I could possibly want as an Illini.
I've not enjoyed a player more than Andres ever. Enrolled in 1974 and I've watched a lot of great Illini teams and players. But none have captured the spirit of doing anything and everything you can to win with whatever you've got. Andres has talent, but what he has in spades is heart. Just love the guy.
 
#58
My favorite Illini team has always been the 1988-89 team. And I have to admit, I don't have the memory many on here do regarding particular games and seasons. It might be the recency factor or maybe because I've been able to reinvest myself in Illini basketball more in the last 8-10 years (and we know how most of those turned out), but I would be hard pressed to name a team that I've enjoyed watching and following more that this year's team. The 2004-5 team was great and very fun to watch, but it did come in a period of Illini basketball success and that team seemed destined to be great. This year's team's success doesn't match that team's, but because of the players on this team and where the program has been of late, I just loved following this team. Toughness, rebounding, defense, unsung heroes that often didn't get their due -- and, of course, the Closer. Season has been a struggle at times and often not pretty, but I think that is why I enjoyed this team so much.

Thank you to all the players, coaches and support staff of the 2019-20 Fighting Illini men's basketball program. It has truly been fun to watch and cheer for you. Your success will be made even greater because you have started and set the table for the rejuvenation of Illinois basketball.
 
Likes: foby
#59
This season had a bit of everything. We started off with a clunker that could have derailed us from the start. Thank you, Trent for making some extremely clutch late second half freebies and taking us to OT.

Alan was suspended twice this season, one for being late to shoot around and then, well, you know. But what a redemption tour he had? I said it after the game in Evanston, but he could be a pro prospect.

Kofi is larger than life. Everyone makes the joke about Shaq and Remy, but guys, we have our own Shaq now. He's Kofi. His personality is fun, and the dynamic between him and Giorgi is amazing. His dominance and FOTY campaign have me anticipating the year(s) to come.

I wasn't really trying to make this a player rundown, but here we are. Though the disappoint is there to not get full closure on the season. Especially for our bulldog Andres and the enigma of when we'd get a visit from Good Kipper. With that sadness, we have hope.

We, as a fan base, were treated to the resurgence of Fighting Illini basketball. We got to witness the brilliance of Ayo and his becoming one of the greatest closers in B1G history. (I really don't think I'm stretching the truth here, please name others if possible). We got to come full circle on our coach. We have a team and program that has his identity. One that will always be Fighting and never quit until the final for horn. After the last decade, that is my source of optimism and hope.

Hopefully the 20's really do belong to the Illini. Thank you everyone. Love your friends, call you family, wash your hands, and stay safe.

I-N-I
 
#62
Does anyone have any pull with the University? How awesome would it be to surprise the team with tons of people inside the State Farm Center yelling ILL-INI, whenever they walk in to show our support. Such a special group of guys and would love to show our support in a way that they would never forget.
 
#63
M tipping over
Pdx
Watching that highlights video makes me appreciate even more just how special this year's team was (and sad that I have to write this in the past tense). This was one of the most exciting seasons of Illini basketball I can remember. It's pretty amazing how many close games we managed to pull off with just seconds remaining. Tip of the hat to the whole organization.
 
#65
Even if the reasons are urgent and necessary, there's small consolation in having your season end prematurely and without the rightful national recognition you were about to receive, but as a fan, I can tell you that I will always remember this team as the one that turned the ship around and, most likely, for good. TF I see this team's 2 years hard work and thank you more than I can say for bringing back the excitement of watching Illini basketball. To all who worked hard to make this possible, a heartfelt thanks. You laid the cornerstone for a winning program--not a season--and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition in the years to come.
 
Likes: chiefini
#67
I've not enjoyed a player more than Andres ever. Enrolled in 1974 and I've watched a lot of great Illini teams and players. But none have captured the spirit of doing anything and everything you can to win with whatever you've got. Andres has talent, but what he has in spades is heart. Just love the guy.
Ayo's last second heroics were awesome. Trent, Giorgi, Kofi, AG, DMW all had their moments. But Andre's fearlessness defined this team for me.
 
#68
What a great season! All the players and coaches should be proud of the product they put on the floor. If not for the success they achieved, but also for rejuvenating a sad fan base.

I used to only wear my Illini gear before the games, but now I can be proud wearing it after too (regardless of the outcome).

I'm proud of you Illini, and if I ever see any of you guys I'll be buying you a beer!
 
#69
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.
Believe Kipper will always be successful in life with a great attitude and a personality you have to love.
 
#70
One of the most fun season I can remember. A big thank you goes out to Coach Underwood and his coaching staff proving all the naysayers (can't coach, cant recruit, can't get along with players) enormously wrong. A thank you to the players (Trent, Kipper, DaMonte) who chose to stay the course and show loyalty to the program during its lower moments. A thank you to the players that came in to change the course and bring a winning attitude (Georgi, Ben, Kofi, Andres, Alan, Zach, Jacob, Jermaine, Tevian, Samson, Tyler, Austin) and a Special Thanks to Ayo, what a class act, backed words with actions, what a closer, whether you come back or not you will always be a Illini Legend.
 
#71
#72
Can we talk about about DMFW? He got a ton of heat earlier in the season when we were underperforming but he didnā€™t let it get to him and wound up being our defensive ace. He gave up a ton of size and still completely shut down Lamar Stevens on the road. He also carried us in the first half of senior night physically and emotionally. DaMonte was the man and our ultimate everyday guy.
 
#74
Winged Warrior
Can we talk about about DMFW? He got a ton of heat earlier in the season when we were underperforming but he didnā€™t let it get to him and wound up being our defensive ace. He gave up a ton of size and still completely shut down Lamar Stevens on the road. He also carried us in the first half of senior night physically and emotionally. DaMonte was the man and our ultimate everyday guy.
Yes! Also a huge amount of props to BU for continuing to put DMFW on the floor in a position to help this team become the gritty defensive unit they are!
 
Likes: Oskeefan