Thank You

#76      
I've been watching Illinois games since the late 70s and this is probably my favorite team ever. The tournament is cruel by design and most every team has a harsh ending to their season, but I wouldn't take any of it back. Hope the kids on the team feel the same way.
1989 for me. But these guys in 2020-2021 were fun. And given that they were bringing a program all the way back by themselves .. I would not argue anyone’s choice to rate them first.
 
#77      
Ft. Collins, CO
After watching one of the most frustrating, confusing and gut-wrenching games I can remember I spent the entire flight back to CO I took a deep breath, ordered a Jack and Coke and reflected on how exciting and inspiring this year’s team became! Pre-season expectations were high and we actually exceeded them by finishing 3rd in the country and we brought home a B1G trophy! Two years ago we wondered if we could go 5 deep and this year we debated whether we could go 8,9 or 10 deep. Our team truly cared about each other and conducted themselves with class in victory and in defeat. Our coaching staff and AD are extremely talented, passionate and committed! We have reestablished ourselves as a top tier program. We are positioned well to recruit really talented kids that want to be here and play hard- nosed U of I basketball!
As I sat at Bankers I watched warmups where our guys were dancing, laughing, juggling soccer balls, dribbling tennis balls and genuinely having the time of their lives. During the game I could not believe what I was watching and how awful I felt for the team ... especially the guys that will be moving on. All I can hope is that at some point they understand how proud we are of them and thankful for all that they have given us during a historically challenging time! I am humbled to be a life-long Illini fan! :shield:
 
#78      
What an awesome year we've had and so grateful for Ayo and Kofi and the entire team and the sacrifices they've made all season.
Now they can go home finally to see their families and friends. We have so much to be grateful for and what an exciting run to the dance..
I don't care what anybody else tries to say but this team was definitely the BEST team in the Big 10 this year.
GReat game plan for Moser and his Loyola team.
We have a great team coming in next year.
 
#79      
Naperville, IL
Big thanks to the players, coaching staff, and administration. From what I've seen the last few years, class acts all around.
Thanks to Trent & DmW for showing that initial faith in Illinois. You can't build a house without a foundation, and these gentlemen should be proud that this "house" was built on their shoulders.
Thanks to the whole team for following their lead and putting in the work to secure their futures (be it athletically and/or academically)... And for making the rest of us that bleed orange and blue, do so with pride and a smile on our faces (because believe me, these young gentlemen have proven they do).
Hail to the Orange
Hail to the Blue
 
#80      
After watching one of the most frustrating, confusing and gut-wrenching games I can remember I spent the entire flight back to CO I took a deep breath, ordered a Jack and Coke and reflected on how exciting and inspiring this year’s team became! Pre-season expectations were high and we actually exceeded them by finishing 3rd in the country and we brought home a B1G trophy! Two years ago we wondered if we could go 5 deep and this year we debated whether we could go 8,9 or 10 deep. Our team truly cared about each other and conducted themselves with class in victory and in defeat. Our coaching staff and AD are extremely talented, passionate and committed! We have reestablished ourselves as a top tier program. We are positioned well to recruit really talented kids that want to be here and play hard- nosed U of I basketball!
As I sat at Bankers I watched warmups where our guys were dancing, laughing, juggling soccer balls, dribbling tennis balls and genuinely having the time of their lives. During the game I could not believe what I was watching and how awful I felt for the team ... especially the guys that will be moving on. All I can hope is that at some point they understand how proud we are of them and thankful for all that they have given us during a historically challenging time! I am humbled to be a life-long Illini fan! :shield:
One of the best post I've seen on this board. This team sacrificed so much and gave us 110%.
 
#81      
No matter what the outcome of the tourney was, this is one of my all-time favorite Illini teams. There is so much to love about the players, not just their game, but their interactions with each other and during interviews. I haven't watched a lot of NBA in recent years, but I look forward to seeing Ayo...and Kofi when he's ready. Trent and Damonte deserve so much credit for allowing recruits to see promise in this team. They never gave up. Can't help but to love Giorgi, and I am so excited to see Adam and Andre unleashed. Go Illini!
 
#82      
I have often thought that March Madness should be called March Sadness. Every team except one goes away from the tournament with a little bit of sadness. For some, it might be because of ending the season with a loss. But I am usually sad because of the group of basketball players that I have allowed to become a part of my “family.” After the loss, it feels like a door slamming in my face. All of a sudden, some very special young men are gone from my life….some forever. And it hurts. It hurts so much that I can’t even talk about it for days.

This year was extra hard for me. This was a very special group of guys that were there for us in a very bleak and depressing time. They brought lots of sunshine to a dreary world. I looked forward to watching them play 2 or 3 times each week. It is what got me through times of sadness. This team was so focused. They set high goals. They sacrificed so much. They obviously cared about each other, and they played for each other. They did things the right way on and off the court. They gave us the best they had. And most of all, they have brought a program back from a very deep and painful hole.

I just hope that Trent and Da’Monte know how much we appreciate all they have done for us the past four years. It would be great to see them back on our court next year, but they have to do what is best for them and their families. I will never forget how those two stayed the course through some very lean years. They gave their blood, sweat, and tears to make Illinois relevant again. Can’t thank them enough.

Ayo is just special. We have been so blessed to have him in our program. What a leader. What a player. What a special young man he is. We wish him nothing but the best.

Kofi is special, too. Sometimes he just “amazes” me. He became very skilled in a very short amount of time. It wasn’t all fun especially when having at least three guys hanging on him throughout the games, but he didn’t complain, he didn’t act out, and he didn’t give up. He just made us proud.

These kinds of actions do not just happen. Much of the praise goes to our wonderful coaches and AD for providing such a positive and nurturing atmosphere for the young men in our program. Thanks to all of you for doing your important role in the process so well. It’s not just during basketball season that the work gets done so thank you for your talents, your passion, and your commitment to the program throughout the year.
 
#83      
More than one person close to me sent sheepish, "You OK?" messages after Sunday. Of course, that loss was a blow and I'm not too jazzed about watching the rest of the tournament, but this group gave us a tremendous ride. We got to celebrate a championship and for a few weeks, we were the hottest thing going in college basketball. I tell people that I'm great because that's what I'm going to remember.

If you want misery, go back to the 12-13 game at Madison Square Garden in front of about 500 fans where we lost to Iowa on 2/28. That year, we didn't even PLAY in March.

Also today, I saw that Myles Johnson of Rutgers is entering the transfer portal. His roommate Geo Baker is expected to do the same. Two guys who were huge in turning that program around are taking off and will be wearing the jerseys of other schools. That's misery, too.

Ayo, Trent, Kofi, DMW, Kofi and the rest stuck with us and we need to do the same. Thank you, everyone.
 
#84      
Baltimore, MD
I'm not sure that I've enjoyed watching a sporting event more than I enjoyed watching our game against Minnesota towards the end of the season. That game will stick with me for a long time.

Highlights
 
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#85      
New to the board but just wanted to take some time to thank this guy...

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You changed are culture. You made Illinois cool again! You did what no top ranked player from the State has wanted to do in my lifetime, and you did what no top #25 recruit ever wants to do... stay 3 years!

You taught my kids what was to work hard, be humble and how to go about things the right way! All with your game, your work ethic, and your inspiring late game heroics! All of that still didn’t equate to how you carried your self of the court... always thanking God, always so well spoken!!

We love you Ayo❕🔸🔹 Always will! 🖤🧡💙

We are so blessed to have you as an Ambassador for this program and we hope you will return as often as you can to share your voice and elevate our program even the more as you journey along your continued success!

God bless you masked Mamba!! 🦹🏿‍♂️ God bless you sir!!! 👏🏼👏🏼🌟🙌🏼
 
#86      
New to the board but just wanted to take some time to thank this guy...

View attachment 8336
You changed are culture. You made Illinois cool again! You did what no top ranked player from the State has wanted to do in my lifetime, and you did what no top #25 recruit ever wants to do... stay 3 years!

You taught my kids what was to work hard, be humble and how to go about things the right way! All with your game, your work ethic, and your inspiring late game heroics! All of that still didn’t equate to how you carried your self of the court... always thanking God, always so well spoken!!

We love you Ayo❕🔸🔹 Always will! 🖤🧡💙

We are so blessed to have you as an Ambassador for this program and we hope you will return as often as you can to share your voice and elevate our program even the more as you journey along your continued success!

God bless you masked Mamba!! 🦹🏿‍♂️ God bless you sir!!! 👏🏼👏🏼🌟🙌🏼
I hope Ayo reads this. It says what thousands of his fans feel.
 
#87      
I hope Ayo reads this. It says what thousands of his fans feel.
Typed that up today on the spur of the moment when I had an extra 10 minutes on my hand and saw the thank you thread posted here, along that picture surfacing around in ads on Facebook...

If Ayo does read it, I hope he knows I wish I had the chance to go back and correct all those darn typos! 😲😬
 
#88      
Any year when you beat Wisconsin in the Kohl Center, blow out Michigan in Ann Arbor, beat Iowa twice, sweep Indiana, and beat OSU two out of three is a good year.

Winning the BIG tournament, being a number 1 seed, and winning the most BIG league games in school history is a tremendous accomplishment when you realize just two years earlier we lost the most games in school history.

This is a gutsy, hard working group. “Everyday Guys” who made us proud to be ILLINI. They changed the culture as well as our expectations as fans. I can’t thank them enough for their dedication and wish them all success going forward.
Not sure the above it true, is it? I'm speculating 2005 holds the all-time record.