Smile Politely

Good Bye

The Illini men throttled Indiana Saturday noon, and thus earned a bye in next weekend’s Big Ten Tournament. They’ll play Michigan — the Wolverines, not the Spartans — on Friday in the 4/5 game. That tips around 1:30 p.m. in Indianapolis.

Illinois made just under half its shots and only a third of its treys. They blocked five shots and collected another five steals. They out-rebounded the Hoosiers 41 to 28 on live balls.

But the real reason for the blowout is that Indiana is just awful. Apart from Champaign’s Verdell Jones, the Hoosiers couldn’t hit the broad side of a covered bridge.

Jordy Hulls forgot his pep pills. The assassin in the first UI-IU match-up at Bloomington, he was double 0 for 7 in Champaign, and spent the entire game fending his balls from ultra-annoying DJ Richardson and Irritator-in-Chief Brandon Paul. I’ll bet he’s still chafing.


Up by only 30 points or so, Bruce Weber played it risky and emptied the bench.

It was Senior Day, and Weber got the crowd to stand as Bill Cole, Mike Tisdale, Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey left the floor for the last time.

(Check back with Smile Politely this week for coverage and interviews with the players and their moms. I tried my darndest to get them to dish the dirt.)

Jean Selus and Kevin Berardini each earned a statistical remembrance of their existence. Joseph Bertrand wowed the crowd with successive highlight reel plays. His mom, Lorita, beamed afterward. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more powerful aura of motherhood. Joe’s mom’s love and joy is almost tangible.


Unfortunately, our freshmen phenom was killed off toward the end of the episode. But like Kenny from South Park, he will surely return next week.

I don’t know how a guy can score and rebound with a busted right shoulder. But then, I’m not Superman. He is.


Watch for a growing variety of stylish spectacles on Wayne McClain and his wife Robin. Jerrance Howard may be sharply dressed, but he can’t accessorize like McClain.

Nnanna Egwu is still sporting the specs when he’s not on court. Kenny Battle Jr. rocked some awesome frames, but he doesn’t need the lenses yet. Crete-Monee point guard Michael Orris does not wear glasses, but was allowed to sit among these recruits anyhow. Other attendees included Illinois Wolves coach Mike Mullins and his latest star Jalen James.

Paul Turner would look even more like his grandfather Ezell if he’d just get some fly rims. He came with fellow Westchester prospect AJ Petty. Their coach, Gene Pingatore watched Demetri McCamey’s final game at the Hall, along with his more recent McCamey, DeAndre.

Daily Herald beat writer Lindsey Willhite shaved his head in solidarity with a youth cancer foundation, not because he or anyone he knows is currently afflicted.

There’s an upside to the new look. Long stuck with being the nicest guy among the press pool, Willhite can now play the heavy among scribes.

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