So, How We Doin'? Rutgers
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I'm 53% certain that I've told this story before. But that means there's a 47% chance I haven't told this story before. Worth a shot.
When I was a kid, my family would do this thing on birthdays. I believe we called it a "numbered dinner". You would take the entire meal and you'd split it up into nine numbers. And then there were three courses. For each course, you would draw three numbers and get those items from the list.
So it was something like this. You'd see a list of nine items:
- Roast Beef
- Mashed Potatoes
- Green Beans
You sit down and draw your first three numbers. 5, 6, and 8. So my first course is Green beans with gravy to be eaten with a fork. OK, fine, whatever, it works.
Second course I draw 2, 7, and 9. A piece of bread plus a knife and spoon. What good is that? It's not. That's the point of the game. And you start doing the math wen you realize you're out of utensils and you still have mashed potatoes on the horizon.
Third course: 1, 3, and 4. Salad, roast beef, and mashed potatoes. This is the bulk of the meal here, but you don't get any utensils to eat with. After each course everything is cleared away. So it's scooping up gravy-less mashed potatoes with your hand. When you're 9, this game is the greatest thing ever.
There were famous moments in family history. One time my Aunt Gail got knife, fork, and spoon for her first course so she had to eat all of her food with her hands. And peas were quite often used as part of the meal because you couldn't wait for someone to get peas + a knife. I don't really remember why we starte doing it. Probably my dad's invention. When you're a kid, it's really fun.
That's basically the Brad Underwood experience right now.
"OK against Kansas State you're going to be playing without Goode and then you'll lose both Curbelo and Frazier during the game."
"Now play UTRGV without Grandison, Frazier, and Curbelo."
"OK now play Notre Dame without Curbelo, Bosmans-Verdonk, and Hutcherson."
"Against Rutgers, Curbelo will still be out but this time he might joined by Da'Monte and Hutch since they've both been sick."
And all of this after playing the first three games without Kofi.
This makes writing a game preview more or less pointless. I'm fairly certain that Curbelo will be the only player out tomorrow night, but I can't say for certain. We found out today that Hutcherson and Da'Monte are likely over the flu and both are back at practice but tell me you don't expect to get to the game tomorrow night and find out that RJ Melendez has the flu. Every single game it's someone else.
So until we get the full roster back and 3-4 consecutive games under their belts, I'm not sure we're going to know what to expect. The rotation changes every game, which means (as Tyler just pointed out) the offense seems to change every game, which means there's no continuity at all.
I've often wondered what it feels like for Brad Underwood at Ubben these days. More or less the entire facility is being renovated right now except for their practice court (and the women's team doesn't even have a practice court this year). All three assistants are new. There hasn't been a healthy roster for a single game this season. His one potential All American is suspended for the first three games and his other potential All American got a concussion on October 29th and still isn't right (and might not be for a while). His 5th-year all-everything guard hurt his shoulder in October and his knee in November. And every time he turns around another player is puking in a trash can with the flu.
So I guess I can best describe my view towards this season as "just trying to limp to one point wins until everyone is back and healthy". Spahn and Sain and pray for rain? That's basically Illini basketball right now. Kofi, you dunk it and every opportunity. Alfonso, shoot every three you possibly can. Everyone else just play defense and rebound. By February, we'll be healthy again and we can try some other stuff. Ready.... break.
This Rutgers game? No clue. I think we'll have everyone but Belo, so that should mean a win, but I still feel like we're going to get some news 20 minutes before the game that this guy and that guy are out with the flu. And then we'll have to recalibrate.
Still can't predict a loss. It's Rutgers at home. We'd better not lose to Rutgers at home.
Illinois 79, Rutgers 70