Smile Politely

Great Lakes Gauntlet

If consecutive 11 a.m. starts are cramping your style, consider Lynda & Cliff Paul.

Thursday morning, they watched their middle child stroke a game winner at the Big Ten Tournament. Thursday afternoon, they drove to Cleveland for the Mid-American Tournament. Thursday night, their youngest child (the newly anointed MAC Freshman of the Year) leads Western Michigan against Eastern Michigan at Quicken Loans Arena.

Friday morning, they’ll be back in Chicago.

When do the Pauls sleep? In the car perhaps?

It’s a Nissan Maxima, so it’s unlikely that Cliff Sr. (6’4″) will stretch out in the back. He’s accustomed to driving at night, as a Gurnee cop who frequently patrols the midnight shift.

Maybe Lynda will sleep. But then again, she’s the Type A financial adviser, the erstwhile AAU coach, the mother-of-three. I’ll bet she hasn’t slept since the 90s. The Maxima, by the way, has 240,000 miles on it. So it must be road-worthy. That it’s still hauling them around the Midwest demonstrates that the Pauls know how to take care of the little things, and get maximum value for their money.

Cliff Jr., whom no one should call “Little Cliff,” was stuck in Champaign with Joe LaTulip. Their Money Bags intramural team is playing in the quarterfinals of the ARC playoffs.


If you get all your Illini basketball information here at Smile Politely, you are woefully uninformed about Illini basketball. Perhaps that’s the way you like it. But you should know that Brandon Paul turned in this season’s second Game of His Life (Gonzaga being the first).

Brandon was 10-of-16 from the floor, and 4-of-8 from three. He grabbed five rebounds and two steals. He assisted twice with no turnovers. He mugged for no cameras, and whined to no officials.

And at the end of the game, with the score tied, he calmly drained the winning basket.


A postgame locker room is easy to describe. Win = happy. Lose = sad. It would be nice if the rest of life were so simple. Or perhaps it would be nice if postgame locker rooms were more complex.

Whatever the case, the Illini were loose after winning, despite playing one of their worst games of the year.

Illinois shot 32% from the field, and 24% from three. The Gophers grabbed 38 rebounds to Illinois’ 26.

The Illini managed only eight assists. Minnesota committed nineteen turnovers.

But the Illini dramatically improved in the unlikely statistical category of Games Played Against Minnesota In Which Brandon Paul Temporarily Wears The #12 Jersey. They are now 1-and-1 on the year. In total games where someone bloodies his uniform and replaces it with the #12 jersey, Illinois is now 2-1 on the year.


Joe wore a black harness around his shooting-shoulder. He made 1-of-4 field goals, but claims he felt comfortable with the sling.

Not quite sure how to describe the injury, he said he heard a slight popping sound. Mostly, it was the excruciating pain that suggested a problem.

The shoulder’s been back in its holster for a week now. Joe expects a full recovery.

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