Our State. Our Team. This is the slogan that has been reiterated throughout the current season. Despite our football team’s lackluster 2012-2013 season that ended with the disappointing record (2-10), I think we can finally say the slogan with confidence.
Currently the record is an impressive 11-0. The team’s new coach John Groce has clearly adjusted to his team and has few questioning his coaching abilities. Last night Illinois sent Norfolk State back with a story they wish they could tell differently. The final score was 64-54 Illinois.
The past couple of years the team has performed subpar under former coach Bruce Weber. This was my second game I ever attended and I can say impressive is an accurate description. After maneuvering through the crowd of blue and orange fans, I settled in only to become anxious. Can we really win 11? I sat through the entire game quiet. I observed the fans and the players.
Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson didn’t hold back scoring a combined score of 25 points. The fans were at ease because many knew going into the game we would end victoriously because no one really knows about Norfolk State. As I listened to the crowd some whispered “Where is Norfolk? What is their record?”
Norfolk is a University located in a city in Virginia of the same name. The Spartans record currently is 6-6. That is all the information you need to know. The bigger question is can we win 12 in a row? Sunday December 16th Illinois takes on Eastern Kentucky. This will be an interesting game because Eastern Kentucky will also enter the game undefeated (9-0). How much longer will the streak continue?
The only way to predict how the season will go would be to consider all of the factors that contribute to the much coveted W. These factors include the coach and the players. Brandon Paul, the player who scored 35 points in this past weekend’s game against Gonzaga was named Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week this past Tuesday. Let us not forget DJ Richardson who was escorted from the game in the first half after colliding into a player from Norfolk. He suffered a upper shoulder contusion. Despite his injury he continued the game contributing 11 points to the winning score.
John Groce, the same coach who led his previous team Ohio to the NCAA tournament twice and ended with a record 85-56, has proven that looking at old records can be a clear indicator of success. He has exceeded expectations and has taken a team in need of new direction to a place no one could have guessed they would be. If we win Sunday’s game every game following will be entered with a great amount of anticipation because fans will be expecting the undefeated record to end. Only time will tell if the team can continue this winning streak, but according to our record. I believe we have a good chance.
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