Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A Tease

It's like a tease.

Cut off media access to the players for three or four days before what is being billed by this sensationalized media of ours as "the biggest game of the year so far." Then take care of business at the Kohl Center-does anyone recall how many games in a row Wisconsin had won there because no one really talked about it beforehand-and watch the media attention only grow more once it's over.

Yes, a tease indeed.

The Illini came out sharp. Focused. The Iowa game was a cornfield in the rearview mirror. Then they found themselves down eight midway through the second half.

The Grateful Red were going bonkers.

Is there any other student section in the Big Ten that looks like it was transplanted from Woodstock more than The Grateful Red at Wisconsin? I challenge you. Find one.
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Anyway, wherever these hippies came from (they certainly didn't look like dairy farmers but to their credit they are passionate fans), they were going nuts. And with good reason. When Deron whipped that pass out of bounds, the Illini were looking rattled.

But it was a tease.

What do you say when a 6-10, 245 pound forward/center steps out behind the arc and doesn't just load the gun but unlocks the trigger lock (we are in liberal Madison, WI after all) and fires?

No way he makes it, right?

Another tease. He makes two in a row.

And that was it. The spark the Illini needed didn't come from the normal sparkplug of Dee, Deron or Luther.

Naw, it came from Jack Ingram. A guy who's been through his share of coaching teases.

Recruited by Self to Tulsa.


Self leaves for Illinois before Jack can play for him.

Ingram transfers to Illinois to play for Self.

Sits out a year.

Finally eligible.


Self leaves.

Jack is finally getting his due.

And so are the rest of the Illini.

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