By Tony Hooker
One step forward, two steps back
The curse of being a diehard Illini fan lives. After falling into the pit of despair during the stretch of games from Eastern Michigan through the first half of the Michigan game, the Illinois football team seemingly righted the ship, reeling off four consecutive conference wins, including a thriller over number six Wisconsin and a twenty-five point comeback against Michigan State, the largest such comeback in the program’s history. Took care of business against Purdue and Rutgers too. Even the loss at Iowa was respectable. The Hawks don’t lose too many at Kinnick, and we had a few chances to win it.
And then Northwestern happened. 0-8 in the conference, two wins all season, and they dominate us. Inconceivable. I don’t know if the emotions of Bobby Roundtree’s visit to the team got the better of them, or if they’re too immature to recognize the importance of the moment or what, but the Kitties controlled both lines of scrimmage all day long and we didn’t make many adjustments. It’s like I’ve fallen for one of the two classic blunders. Never bet against a Sicilian when death is on the line, and never trust your Illinois football team not to find a way to break your heart. One would think I would learn, but alas, life, and being a sports fan, is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something. At least we have a bowl game to look forward to. By this time next week, we’ll know our location and opponent. The team will get fifteen extra practices, which should benefit the young players as the older starters rest and heal their wounds.
VGH basketball heating up
Both the girls and boy’s basketball teams are off to strong starts this season. The girls went 3-1 in their season opening tournament, finishing third at the Bunny/Falcon invitational with their only loss being to SJO in a game they led for three quarters. They then went on the road to defeat Tuscola in their first road contest of the year. Aliya Holloman and Kyleigh Block provide a lethal 1-2 scoring punch, and Samantha Campbell and Jordyn Ray, along with Madison Burwell are making vital contributions to the cause. All in all, Coach Dan Sappenfield is undoubtedly excited about the season’s potential.
The boys also went 3-1 in their season opening tournament, earning third place at the Cerro Gordo Bement Tipoff. Jake Eversole is the leading scorer early, but it has the look of a team that will rely on a bevy of scorers to get the job done.
Both teams look like they want to pressure the ball, run when they can and take and make open shots, which is an entertaining style to watch. It will be interesting to see how the teams evolve as the season progresses.