The Illini hit their first ten shots, and grabbed a dozen of the first 14 rebounds from an overwhelmed, charity case opponent: The University of Toledo limped in to Champaign with a group of guys they’d found hooping on a local playground.
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But seriously, Toledo was without two starters, and had only five scholarship players on hand. One of them shot a 12-foot free throw.
It was so bad, both the writers from The Toledo Blade left at halftime. They already knew the headline.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: BILL COLE
Everyone played except Crandall Head, whom Bruce Weber sat for unnamed, off-court diabolism. And everyone played fairly well. Cole topped the Matto with 8 hustle plays, a sum equaled by Brandon Paul.
But it’s not just the little things. He’s not only a role player.
The five points, two steals and two blocks were all fairly spectacular. But even they don’t tell the story.
He’s in the right place at the right time. On one early play, Cole’s steal, outlet pass, trail and finishing dunk featured every element of good basketball. Early in the second, Cole again picked up a steal and made a nifty no-look backward pass to hit Demetri McCamey in stride for a fastbreak the other way,
It was Cole whose long arms and quick feet presented a solid wall all night, keeping Toledo from making easy shots.
OBLONG WOMAN WINS OBLATE SPHEROID
Gwenda Lanter (no relation to Steve) is a medical technician at a hospital in Robinson, Illinois. She and her husband Gary were surprised to learn that she’s the 9 millionth person to attend an Illini game at the Assembly Hall.
Gwenda and Gary Lanter with a surprise keepsake
The Lanters live in Oblong, Illinois. So news of her award sent sports editors scrambling for aphorisms.
YOUR DAILY BERARDINI
Kevin compiled some meaty statistics. Some of them appear in the standard columns. But apart from perfect shooting and a pair of fouls, Kevin nearly topped the Matto in six minutes of play. Loose-ball-diving, charge-taking and general uppity grappling earned seven Heldmans.
The Orange Krush clucked euphoniously.
After the game, Kevin said he appreciates the special attention, but does not want to be a sideshow. He wants to be regarded as a solid point guard, available for minutes even when the team isn’t winning by 40 points.
Demetri McCamey and Meyers Leonard both spoke highly of Kevin, postgame.