MISSOURI 81, ILLINOIS 68
Dec. 23, 2009
Score with 6:00 remaining: 65-59, Tigers
This game came and went with a whimper and some pity, just like every bit of the 2009-10 season that hosted it. The actual events of the game are lost to history, at least to me. The Mizzou game marks the highlight of my schedule every year, and I still can't remember this one.
Maybe it's because we were 8-3 heading into this loss, with defeats at hands of big muscled powerhouses like UTAH, BRADLEY, AND GEORGIA.
Or, maybe it's due to the recruiting class we had to look forward to, because the human memory has a funny way of taking the present facts and skewing the past. I remember being excited about the three studs we had coming in. I recall talking about them anywhere and everywhere, and everyone else was chatting on the topic too. They were the ones to turn it around.
"JEREME RICHMOND might be a one-and-done next year."
"He's strong, athletic...have you seen the highlight tapes. Go look them up. MEYERS LEONARD is the big man we've been waiting for."
"Yeah, man. CRANDALL HEAD. It's Luther's little brother."
One of those players showed extreme talent his freshman year, then was unofficially shown the door. Another one showed extreme talent his sophomore year, then left when his coach was shown the door. And the final player couldn't shoot jump shots. He showed himself the door.
Sometimes I forget the struggle that Illinois is. Here's the roster, per the Fighting Illini official website.
More than eight men comprised the roster that year, so let's go through the four omissions. These guys I tragically remember:
JEFF JORDAN - The son of the greatest basketball player to ever live, the player who everybody stopped and gawked at as he jumped through the roof in pregame dunk contests, the player who got everyone's hopes up because he's Michael's offspring, and the player who just stood on the floor and didn't do much .
STAN SIMPSON - On several occasions, I saw Stan at Joe's the night before a game, grinding in the smoky dance floor and drinking heavily. (There will be future posts on this).
ALEX LEGION - Like a Christmas morning lump of coal but with less utility, so, really just a dirt clod.
DOMINIQUE KELLER - (shown below)
Strangely enough, this season actually had it's moments, despite the makeup of the roster and the lackluster seasons from the top guys. But the moments came later. They came right before crushing setbacks and right after annoying setbacks, one of which being this Mizzou game. My memory may have done me a solid on this one.
Part Two tonight.