Illini Basketball Season Going Exactly as Planned
- Article by Jupiter Stevens
- March 12, 2014
In the midst of a wild, late-season turnaround, Illini basketball coach John Groce said the season is going “exactly as planned.”
Smiling with his arms around reporters’ shoulders, Groce was heard yelling, “Isn't this great?! Man, it's all coming together so perfectly!”
It's been rumored the coach has been trying to pass off the team's 7-11 conference record as a form of hustling other teams around the league and making college basketball analysts nationwide believe the Illini were simply a bad team.
“You should have seen everyone's faces,” Groce said after Saturday's dramatic win over Iowa. “We totally made everyone in the NCAA think we were just a bunch of bad players who couldn't get it together all season long. How funny was it when the final buzzer went off against Iowa?!”
The head coach said the team's embarrassing loss to Michigan was intentional, explaining that their cover was being blown after winning their previous four games.
“People were starting to catch on,” Groce said. “We had to lay down and sort of just take that one or else people would have forgotten how terrible we've looked all season. I mean, going back to the beginning of the year at the Orange and Blue scrimmage game, we were barely able to beat ourselves.”
Groce said the team might even have to lose in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in order to preserve the season-long gimmick.
“I mean, this whole thing has been going on for years,” Groce said of the program's statistically disguised talent. “In 2004-05, we almost cashed in on the whole thing, but at the last second we sort of thought it would be way better if we gave it a few more years.”
In a press conference held Wednesday evening Athletic Director Mike Thomas commended coach Groce and the Illini basketball program, calling it a storybook season and one that will be remembered for years to come.
“Everything was executed perfectly this year,” Thomas told reporters while simultaneously popping a bottle of champagne and pouring Groce a glass. “This season will go down in the record books as another superb year for Illini basketball.”
Senior Jon Ekey, who earned Illinois a thrilling victory over Iowa – one of the nation's most prominent basketball programs – said he and his Illini teammates are proud of the way the team has played.
“I think our mediocre 18-13 record speaks for itself,” Ekey said, grinning ear-to-ear with pride. “Not many teams can rack up over 100 points against McKendree like we did earlier this season. Sure, the NCAA may look at our performance against teams like Michigan and Wisconsin when it comes to making the national tournament, but you can't overlook our huge wins over historically competitive teams like Chicago State, Northwood and Jacksonville State.”
With a shrug of the shoulder, Groce told reporters that the team is looking forward to the “challenge” of the Big Ten Tournament and is expecting the team to treat it like a “few warm-up games before the big dance.” Although Groce's extremely vocal confidence is being viewed as premature by most college basketball analysts, the head coach is determined to believe his barely .500 team will dominate in the national tournament when they inevitably receive a bid to the dance.
“Seriously, this season has been amazing and when we get to the Final Four, we'll show everyone what Illinois basketball is really all about,” Groce assured, leaning back in his chair with a big smile. “You'll see...you'll all see.”