Sunday, January 13, 2008

Liveblogging Illinois @ Indiana 1/13/08

In honor of our triumphant return to the blogosphere I shall be liveblogging today's game versus Illinois. What will we see? Eric Gordon spitting in the faces of visiting Illinois fans - acting out physically what he did to them symbolically by brushing them off to go to IU? DeAndre Thomas taking off on a fast break culminating in an alley oop to himself? Only time will tell, and if you're unable to watch the game, all the highlights and lowlights will be here (unless I'm predisposed by letting my body try to digest the poison what was the Chinese food I just ate).

So without further ado, here we go! (And be sure to check out the debut posting by our latest poster, HARDYPARTY, below this liveblogging entry)

3:32: Why is football still on? The game was supposed to start at 3:30 but instead we still have football coverage. And no, we're not on the wrong channel like the one time we spent 10 mintues watching an infomercial waiting for a Wildcard game to start.

3:34: Why is Fogel on my damn TV screen hocking his bullshit sandwiches (try eating 2lbs of greasey chinese fried rice and sweet & sour pork and then committing to stay in front of the TV for several hours no matter how much you feel like death, then come and try to sell sandwiches to me Jared, until then, piss off). Sure he went to IU but that doesn't mean I have to accept him. If he really cared about hit roots he would've shouted at these talking heads to switch off football and tune into Bloomington.

3:37: TITTLE500 says that Shannon Sharpe needs to learn how to tie a tie.

3:42: We finally get to see some basketball 6 minutes into the game, thanks for all the commericals and NFL crap CBS.

3:47: D.J. White, not only is he a man, but with that celebration he just showed he's good friends with Defend The Rock fave DeAndre Thomas. Way to befriend the JuCos D.J., what a guy!

3:52: Lance Stemler: More than just a ping-pong player. DeAndre Thomas: Play nice, you're bigger than the other kids on the playground.

3:55: Eric Gordon Illinois/Indiana controversey reference count: 1. The two coaches aren't even willing to look eachother in the eye (seemingly over this issue).

4:00: Armon Bassett is in, always good to see him on the court. TITTLE500: A.J's also out there, needs to get some confidence.

4:02: Mike White looks like a Ninja Turtle (everyone in attendance here agrees).

4:08: Just discovered the existence of the Rock Band Stage Kit. Apparently it adds an interactive light and smoke show to Rock Band for 360. Incredible.

4:12: These "video game" camera angles they are using are making me really nauseated. I'm sorry, but I don't need camera "innovations" in my basketball broadcasts.

4:14: I look up and the TV has been changed to "Skate For The Heart." Ok, good, it's been changed back.

4:16: Currently debating whether Eric Gordon played Michael Jordan's son in Space Jam. He's credited, but is it THE Eric Gordon?

4:23: Well, you tried DeAndre, you tried. Also first sighting of Adam Ahlfeld's motivation technique.

4:25: Halftime. 34-30 Illinois. Not the half we here at Defend The Rock expected or like to see, but our boys are closed. Surely Coach will have some strong words in the locker room.

4:32: Talks of co-worker hugs and Rock Band take over half time. Hi Brian! Looking forward to the Bachelor Party.

4:42: Second half begins with a useless foul by Mike White. A discussion of check marks or something is going on around me. I'm slowing down, I think yesterdays festivities are starting to hit me.

4:47: Lots of traveling for IU tonight, fundementals guys, fundementals, 8 turnovers. Meanwhile Illinois is showing good hustle.

4:48: Eric Gordon hits a 3, the crowd is back into it. I don't think I will ever understand the offensive plan for tonight. Illinois hits a 3 and the crowd gets silent, support your team Hoosiers!

4:52: Jump ball. Get angry DJ, get angry.

4:56: White and Gordon decide to play together and put together one hell of a play.

4:59: Which Hoosier has gotten the most from lovely Bloomington ladies the audience asks? My vote is DJ, Basset clocks in with a vote as does Stemler. Really, Stemler?

5:00: Jeff Jordan's in the game. Exciting, it's like the Illini are now 90s era Bulls. Or not.

5:06: Team is fired up and playing D, the crowd is into it, this is what Indiana basketball should be. We have a young, energetic team so keep it up! Gordon layup, hoosiers lead. Hell yeah!

5:11: DJ is playing NBA Jam out there: He's On Fire! (I wonder if I can use that as a slogan to get an audition for Sportscenter, or more likely Stuart Scott already uses it).

5:18: Anyone else really excited about Commanche Moon? I've been waiting for Val Kilmer to return and really impress us all, even better that it's a Western. Or not.

5:24: D.J. stepping up as the team elder and sorting out some confrontations on the court and keeping the younger guys cool. Have to wonder what the make up (not talent, but personality) of this team would be like had he opted to go pro instead of return this year.

5:27: Partial up-skirt shot of an IU Cheerleader. Someone said "that's nice" and a hilariously unanimous "yeah" followed. Plenty of laughter.

5:32: Lots of criticism of A.J. from the ridiculous tats to the bizarre hair cut he has with all that stuff shaved on the back of his head. Criticism dampened by a well timed 3.

5:37: Bruce Weber is not a happy camper. He just took the coat off, look out, he's getting red and looking set to explode. But in fairness TITTLE500 did attend basketball camp with him (although he got a good scolding from him too).

We've got a patented crazy tense Big Ten ending. Players rolling around, crashing into each other all over the floor. We still have a few seconds left and who knows what'll happen, but damn, Big Ten basketball is diiiiirrrrrttttyyyyy.

5:42: IU Wins 62-58. Camera cuts away before we can see Adam Ahlfeld celebrate, we are all disappointed with that, but we'll take the win regardless. Hi Peter.
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Gordon In Progress

It's a mythology in Indiana.  Bird and a rundown hoop at dawn, endless freethrows.  Bobby Knight's disruptive passion and an undefeated season.  "Hoosier" bears a weight, resonates with a storied history of victory and loss on the court and off.  And the story of Indiana Basketball continues, with Eric Gordon writing himself into the next chapter.

In the four years I spent in Bloomington ('02-'06) the basketball was secondary.  I just missed the Mike Davis NCAA Finals squad that caused that memorable eruption of drunken euphoria and pole-climbing on Kirkwood.  The subsequent downward spiral of Men's basketball left me not disappointed, but ambivalent.  I saw some games, got pumped in 2006, but focused on the Colts and the X on my calendar marking Little 5 weekend.

That's all changed now.  Eric Gordon is in Bloomington, Indiana wearing the cream and crimson.  Maybe it's just a year, but with his presence, as well as some strong help inside from a veteran D.J. White, Gordon's again put the ranking next to the name.  

Indiana University has a tenuous grasp on Eric Gordon.  Even if he were to make some sort of commitment, it wouldn't be a sure thing; the luxury of the young all-star.  But while he's there it seems to be all Gordon, all day.  He's not Lebron, not yet, not carrying a team with zero help.  D.J., Jamarcus Ellis, Mike White, even a young Jordan Crawford, they're all sharing the love in a top 10 ranking.  But Gordon is the star.  The 6'4", 215 babyface from Indianapolis is establishing himself as a premiere guard not just in the Big Ten, or even the NCAA, but the history of Indiana Basketball.  He moves the ball, puts points on the board, gets his teammates into the mix, and defends like a madman.  He is absolute, unabridged talent.  

It begs the question, what if he did stay?  He probably won't, Money vs. Myth and all that.  But what if they had the opportunity to build a team around this kid for four years?  Maybe slim another 30 or 40 off of Deandre Thomas and keep inside, get Jamarcus and Crawford to stick around, really build a little mini-Franchise around him.  It could really be something to see.  But alas, the idea of a four-year starter, a player with serious NBA-ready talent who sticks around, well, it's just not gonna happen.  It's old school.  Antique College ball.  

Which means we have to settle for one year at a time.  Keep our hopes and dreams contained to this season and what it might mean.  Sure, it's a young team, but clearly they're not lacking for talent.  They make mistakes and they're play is nothing if not inconsistent.  But they're ranked.  High.  They're working hard, and this is one of those seasons where literally anything could happen.

When Eric Gordon leaves it'll be a sad day down in Southern Indiana.  But it won't be the end of Indiana Basketball.  We'll watch Gordon, wherever he ends up playing.  And we'll watch IU, whatever happens next.  But for this season, while he's there, let's get pumped about what it means: A young all-star, top ten prospect, kid still learning how to be the best player he can be, and a team at his heels looking for a former greatness.     

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