So I normally don’t share my thoughts with you folks, just because I usually just stick to reporting and that fun stuff, but I might as well share with you what my favorite Illini moment of 2017-18 year.
While the basketball team didn’t put up as many W’s as a lot of the fanbase was unrealistically hoping for, almost all of my favorite moments came on the court.
From Kipper Nichols going toe-to-toe with future first-round draft pick Miles Bridges and scoring 27 points, to all the times Trent Frazier got hot and rattled off three after three after three....
But my favorite Illini moment came in Illinois’ game against Maryland at home on Dec. 3, 2017. The Illini started that game with an “ideal” 10-0 deficit to the Terrapins that caused head coach Brad Underwood to make a hockey line change and sub out all five starters.
Not much was solved by that and Illinois was still trailing 45-26 going into halftime and the energy was essentially drained out of the State Farm Center.
Underwood, however, must’ve sparked a fire out of his troops in the locker room during halftime or scared the bejesus out of them. His team came out in the second half and gave a heroic comeback to get themselves back into the game and even take the lead.
As the Illini inched closer and closer to the Terrapins, you could hear the fans get a little bit more pep in their step and start to bring some energy into the building, but you could tell they were waiting for one big moment to just blow the roof off the place.
And that moment came with 9:41 left in the second half and Illinois trailing 63-54 to Maryland.
Illinois had just gotten another defensive stop when Frazier started pushing the ball up the left side of the court. Not trailing too far behind him on the right side was Jordan, who raised up instantaneously and rattled home the long three ball after receiving the cross court pass from Frazier.
The shot caused an explosive reaction out of the fans as they leaped out of their seats and the State Farm Center became electric at the moment. It was the loudest I heard the place all year, and I’m pretty sure you could hear the cheers from across the street at Memorial Stadium.
And then turn to Jordan and you see all the swagger that is in this man. His celebration, his passion, his excitement, all caught in that moment. Then add on the celebration from his teammates as they head to the timeout huddle — and that just caps off the awesome moment.
The combination of the fans and Jordan’s reaction to the shot gave me goosebumps. I had never experienced a moment like that before.
Even though Illinois ended up throwing away a potential win in regulation and suffered a heartbreaking 92-91 loss in overtime to the Terps, that Jordan three-pointer was the moment that stood out to me the most from this 2017-18 Illini sports season.
It showed how much passion and excitement there really can be for this program.