2020 Illinois Basketball Appreciation Thread

The Transfer Portal
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.

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.

Rockford, Illinois
I-N-I Totally agree, MattC. I am really grateful to this team because we had so much fun watching Illinois Basketball this season, especially after such a rough start. I feel horrible for our seniors and Ayo that they won’t be able to experience the NCAA tournament that they all worked so hard to reach, but as an Illini fan since 1966, I will never forget this team and its student athletes who have been such wonderful representatives of our university. I hope they know how much Illini Nation appreciates their efforts. #IlliniForLife
This team (along with football) has once again given me hope and a reason to look forward to next year. Things have been bleak for awhile but no question we are on the upswing. Looking forward to the new guys continuing what this group started.

Always Illini
Central Illinois
Thanks, Matt, for starting this thread. I hope everyone lets this team know what a huge accomplishment this year has been. They have put joy back into Illini basketball for the fans and by all indications for themselves as well. Coach U is to be congratulated for his work and his amazing growth with this team. It is clear that the future of Illinois basketball is bright for years to come thanks to these young men taking on the task of bringing it back to the spotlight.
I can't wait for next year because of what these young men accomplished.
St. Peters MO
I live in the STL area and after that debacle to mizzery, I was so down and just disappointed. But these guys have really battled back and gave me hope for the tournament. But alas...not to be.

I think this is the team that will mark the turnaround of Illini basketball and for that I will be forever grateful.
This Illini team restored so much hope for the program and the fanbase. While there won't be any special nickname or narrative for this team they will always be remembered.
BU:1 Trash cans:0
Loved watching this team this year. In my eyes, the first team to really embody the "every day guys" mentality. Win or lose, they scrapped and competed. Can't ask for much more than that.
New York
Such a fun group to watch develop and come together. Lots of adversity, lots of fight, lots of great moments and they weren’t done yet. Will remember them. One of my favorite Illini teams ever and definitely my favorite post 05. Ayo is a stud and his decisions - to come here and then come back, and to put the team on his shoulders in critical moments game after game - speak volumes about the kind of person and competitor he is. The team’s cohesion was remarkable- from Kipper to Giorgi to Kofi to Griffin and Trent. Feliz is an all time competitor and glue guy- nationally recognized for it. Damonte - an invaluable team player.

for ayo’s sake, I hope he goes off to the nba this year and flourishes. And as far as we go, I hope we look back at ayo’s two years as a turning point, where ayo’s decision brought us back to prominence and set us on an upward trajectory. I want Ayo - as an established NBA guard- coming back to watch us dominate lesser opponents in big time games.
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I’ll definitely miss the players leaving. They were so important to team success. It’s really too bad they won’t be able to be in the post season.
New York
I actually think this team was sort of more compelling and special to us because it had some glaring weaknesses/issues - poor shooting, no good 4, Giorgi/Kofi difficulty playing together- and they overcame those deficiencies to create some pretty remarkable moments.
This team will be remembered for a long time. I agree they made this year fun to watch. I was all ready for the Friday game and beyond. Good luck to seniors who will move on. Looking forward to the 20-21 season.
I agree with everyone’s comments. What a team and season. The ups and downs. There was a moment earlier this year when I was questioning this team and their ability to win. Wow! Did they prove me wrong. I leave this season with a smile on my face - which is rare unless you win it all. Beating Iowa at home on Sunday night was so much fun. Whitman has Illinois sports going in the right direction. We have started to shift a culture toward winning and as many of us know, shifting a culture from losing to winning is not easy. Well done players, coaches, staff and athletic department. This is me standing and clapping! :clappy::illinois::shield:
Never dreamed that my trip to Champaign would be for the last game. Very encouraging and enjoyable season. Hopefully the trend continues. Last game for sure for Dre, Tyler and Kipper, likely Ayo, slight possibility for Kofi. Very grateful to have an enjoyable season. Strong recruiting class, new transfers, more to come next season!
Thank You ILLINI!
A magical season! We simply weren’t *Illinois basketball* very often once Dee left, so I think it’s TOTALLY fair to consider these guys as sorts of founding fathers, especially considered what was taken away from them. THEY laid the foundation for a new era of Illini hoops. So thankful! They’ll be remembered, trust me.
From being an off-the-radar 9-5 squad on the morning of January 5th, to forming into a formidable clutch group which challenged for the B1G title and became a shoo-in for an At-Large bid, congrats to 2020 Illini Basketball for the greatest in-season turnaround in school history🔸🔹
Still in a bit of shock at how quickly the post-season went from joyous celebration to tearful farewell. This team deserved better. Dre in particular was such a warrior, he deserved to play in the dance. So many kids in college hoops in that same situation. Seniors, we'll miss you. And Ayo/Kofi, if you enter the draft, good luck to you!
I have been a fan of Illinois basketball for the past 15 years and watched a lot of Illinois basketball over the past 12 years. Nothing short of a great season and a turning point for Illini basketball and ILLINI NATION despite the NCAA tournament and Big Ten Tourney being cancelled. Even more impressed with the way Illinois turned it around mid season and went on the 7 game win streak in the Big Ten. The effort that the players and coaches on this team put forth shouldn't go unrecognized...hopefully fans, former players, and alumni can appreciate the way Illinois played basketball this year!
Look at it this way... this team was undefeated in the B1G and NCAA tourneys this year. I am so glad we picked up our season tickets and got the opportunity to see these kids grow, mature, and improve from the beginning of last season to the end of this season. There were so many surprises. I am incredibly grateful for all the hard work the coaches and players put in. Remember those road wins in the toughest conference in America. Thanks so much to the students that will be leaving us at the end of this semester. The last two years were really fun. On a selfish note, I had surgery scheduled for the start of the NCAA tourney so I could rest and enjoy the games while I was stuck in bed. Instead I'll try and find reruns of our games this season, so I will get to see us beat Iowa again as intended. So I have that going for me... which is nice.