Smile Politely

A stroll through the lane

Should we remember, in years to come, what happened at Purdue on the second day of 2013? Does it matter?

If so, the specifics are readily documented. Terone Johnson strolled through the paint for 25 points (eight field goals on sixteen attempts plus 6-of-9 free-throws plus a three pointer). DJ Byrd snared a crucial offensive rebound with 21 seconds to go, and Illinois charging.

Referee John Higgins rewarded Byrd’s aggressive play, allowing the Boilers a timeout rather than a turnover. Byrd was sliding across the floor on his knees and falling out of bounds as he signaled for the TO.


Was Higgins wrong to grant the timeout? It turns out that sliding is the way to do it, if you must be falling out of bounds while calling your timeout.

Use of Timeouts. (Rule 5-12.1.c). A timeout request shall not be recognized when an airborne player’s momentum is carrying him/her either out-of bounds or into the backcourt.

Art. 6. It is traveling when a player falls to the playing court while holding the ball without maintaining a pivot foot.

In this case, Byrd fell to the court and out of bounds while maintaining a pivot knee. The word “knee” appears twelve times in the NCAA’s 2011–2013 Rule Book. None of these entries relates to traveling or turnovers of any kind. The words “sliding” and “slide” do not appear in the 2011–13 Book.

It’s hard to see what Higgins saw. His own body blocks our view of the replay. It’s quite possible that he made the correct call.

Bo Boroski also made a decisive call on a bang-bang play, this time under the Illinois basket. He correctly assessed that “BLUE” slammed the ball off of “WHITE’s” leg while falling out of bounds. Boroski seemed excited by flash of judgment. As he handed the ball to Tracy Abrams for the ensuing inbound play, he said, “let’s keep moving, this is a great game!”

The third official, Ted Valentine, spent the game greeting admirers.



The 63–61 lead expanded to a 68–61 final score.

The other important thing for Illinois historians to remember is that Purdue led 61–51 with 2:57 remaining. The Illini proved resilient in crunch time. The Byrd rebound, missed free-throws (only 3-of-7 in the second half), and an inexplicable charging call against Brandon Paul decided this game.


Illinois failed to pin loss #7 on the Boilers. Instead, Purdue attained its first winning record of the year. Are the Boilers crap?

Their defense looked great. Their offense looked simple (Terone Johnson) because Illinois failed to rotate on defense. Johnson made good reads with the ball, and DJ Byrd made good reads without the ball. These two are the upperclassmen.

The Boilers start two freshmen, with two more in the rotation. Starter Jacob Lawson is a sophomore and sixth-man Anthony Johnson is a redshirt sophomore. Half the coaching staff is newish. Micah Shrewsberry (ball handlers) and Greg Gary (post players) are 18-months into the job. They arrived in the immediate aftermath of Painter’s flirtation with Missouri. The team seemed okay for a year before stalwarts Lewis Jackson and Robbie Hummel (finally!) exhausted their eligibility

Since then, Matt Painter’s marriage irrevocably broke down. His divorce (Hamilton County Case No. 29D04-1206-DR-005849) finalized the week before freshmen arrived for the start of fall semester. In September, two separate filings for child support preceded a mid-September amended property settlement. Painter had to submit his child support report during the first week of practice.

It’s conceivable that the team is just now gelling.


Joe Bertrand said the Illini played well for most of the game, except the three minutes at the end when the Illini “let up” and Purdue “got us.”

Why the let up?

Jerry Hester thought Joe was exhausted at the end of the Missouri game. Was that true at Purdue as well? Joe’s mom expressed concern about training and its physical toll. She spoke of the emphasis on weightlifting, expressing concern about hydration and nutrition. Lorita Bertrand wants the players to be weighed upon entering and leaving the gym. If they show a net loss, they get more fluids.

Brandon Paul took the game over in the final minute. His mom wanted him to do that for the entire game. Lynda Paul (a basketball coach herself) said Brandon could take over at any time.

John Groce said Brandon had a good game. I thought it was Brandon’s best game in a long time, because he made better decisions and sought to get others involved. Lynda Paul points out that “getting others involved” is best left for the early stages of a game. “You do that for the first five minutes,” she said, and shift gears if the strategy proves ineffective.


John Groce & Co. do not badmouth the team. It’s policy. When the cameras are rolling, Groce will not bemoan an individual’s effort or execution.

That goes for his assistants as well. But it’s hard to control one’s emotions in the heat of the moment. Obviously it’s not Groce Administration policy to remain silent on the sidelines.

On Wednesday, Dustin Ford’s sideline histrionics entertained Mackey Arena’s regular photography pool. They shared LCD display captures of his reactions to missed assignments on defense and bad reads on offense. Although Ford coaches the big men at Illinois, he’s a point guard by nature. He was still playing at Ohio only a dozen years ago. As the scouting assistant, he was responsible for the game plan. As his team repeatedly failed to execute the plan, Ford grew visibly more agitated.

When Tracy Abrams launched an errant three (instead of finding a cutter), Ford lost it. When Abrams lost his man on D, when the Illini bigs failed to rotate over, it nearly killed him.

Ford was so distraught he lost track of game management, commanding Tyler Griffey to stand up during a full time out. Team positioning during time outs follows a mysterious protocol not often contemplated by casual observers:

Art. 2. During any timeout, bench personnel and players shall locate themselves
inside an imaginary rectangle formed by the boundaries of the sideline (including
the bench), end line, and an imaginary line extended from the free-throw lane line nearest the bench area meeting an imaginary line extended from the coaching-box line.

Art. 3. During a 30-second timeout, players shall stand inside the boundary lines.


Jeni Thomas sat behind the scorer’s table Wednesday. Thus, she had a terrible view of the game. Only the players’ top halves are visible from the half-oval reserved for visitors and friends of the teams. Also visible were the numerous empty captains chairs immediately opposite the scorers table. These seats are owned and (un)occupied by major donors. But because they’re positioned opposite the team benches, they aren’t continually visible on television.

Mrs. Thomas radiates warmth and enthusiasm, so her gripes tend to sound like encouraging suggestions. She wasn’t best pleased by her view. Perhaps she’ll share her experience with her husband, the Director of Athletics.

Related Articles