Smile Politely

All’s well, no worries, next year will be great!

Over the course of a challenging year, I’ve learned to distinguish between the two varieties of Illini follower. Some want to know all the news. Some want just the best stuff — the good news!

Lately I’ve been harangued for appealing only to the former group. Today, I want to make up for that.


All’s well with the Illini!

For the sixth season in seven, Bruce Weber has led his charges to a winning record. And it’s not over yet! By the end of this week, we’ll know where and when we can watch them in post-season play.

Let’s remember that sports is about fun. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. It’s how you play the game. And between the lob dunks, the eye-popping long range marksmanship, and the ever-present fraternal goodwill to allow their opponents a shot at the basket too, this Illinois team is fun to watch!


Chicago Orr’s Mycheal Henry enjoyed his third Illinois game on Sunday. Two of his favorite teams were on the floor. The 6’5″ swingman feels his game would compliment either team well.

The Illinois staff enticed Madison’s Junior Lomomba (left) to come watch his hometown team. How devilish of them!

Behind Lomomba is 5’11” Indianapolis point guard Yogi Ferrell, a sophomore at the chic Park Tudor School. Ferrell left the Assembly Hall with a scholarship offer from the Illini.

Model and Soulstress Syleena Johnson sat in the front row of the recruits and families bleachers.

She’s getting ready to record her fifth solo album in New York, and boning up on health and fitness in preparation for a bit of editorial oversight. But here, let her tell the story.

Oh … Syleena also brought her husband along for the game. His name is Kiwane Garris (or as he’s known at Illini HQ, Some Guy).


They’re a weird bunch over there at HQ. Probably didn’t get enough affection from their mothers.

It was Senior Day/honor Local Olympians Day at the Hall.

Richard Semrau’s family came all the way from Grafton, Ohio to watch Mike Tisdale play basketball and Wisconsin get rebounds. Bubba Chisholm’s family came all the way from Savoy and got to see him score a bucket!

Dominique Keller’s grandmother Roxie Alpough (“like the dog food”) and Etonia Auzenne came a whole long way too! They’re from the bayou, where people acquire their names de la langue Française. They joined Keller’s mom and dad in seeing him honored before a packed house of Illini fans.

Dominique promised to stay in touch. I’m sure he’ll have interesting things to say. He always does.


Everyone enjoyed the game. Some of the loudest noises came when Illinois made exciting plays. The crowd also got loud when longtime referee Jim Burr made exciting, unusual rulings on plays.

Spectators were wowed by Burr’s intriguing interpretive variations on standard rules. They also appreciated the zeal, and decisiveness with which Burr blew his whistle — sometimes foreseeing rulings even before the on-court actions had played out.

Historians of basketball officiating believe Sunday’s was Burr’s most enthusiastic performance since he began officiating in 1926. Mysterious McDade again captured the mood by pointing a camera at it, and pressing the button that makes the clicking sound.

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