Rayvonte Rice forced a bad shot and following a Clemson go-ahead layup, Tracy Abrams chucked up a NBA 3-pointer that never had a chance. The ball floated out of play, Clemson inbounded, and that was our year. It's over.
It's over. No more hoops.
It wasn't a pretty season, although it had its share of joy. The Missouri win will be a game I remember for a long time. Our run at the end of the season and in the B1G Tournament should be a source of pride as well. You can look back at this season and see an eight-game losing streak and a missed dance, or you can see a young team working through, presumably, the most deficient roster John Groce will have in his Illinois tenure. Choose the latter.
Today embodied the feel of the whole season. That's what finales do. Our defense was the pillow smothering it always is, anchored by aggressive guards and lanky Egwus. Our offense struggled in everything and needed the usual Rayvonte Rice hero effort. Illinois didn't play well, but they played hard and hit just enough shots to win. But it didn't work out. This season didn't work out. Next season will.
I love Illinois basketball. I love its vibe. I love its people--the crowd, the players, the coaches, the whole bunch of 'em. They're too passionate for their own health, riding the rollercoaster from heartbreaking lows to the seldom--but always worth it--ecstatic highs. This season disappointed, but I'm glad I got to share it with you people. We'll do it again next year with a better arena and a better team.
See you there.