Illini try to get hot after cold start

By Lisa Koulias

IOWA CITY – It was a game of hot and cold for the Illini on Saturday. Although the No. 1 Illini came out on top of the Hawkeyes, it took a while for the team to get hot.

While many might have attributed the Illini’s ice-cold first half performance to the early start time, the Illini have a different excuse – cold showers.

The Illini, who stayed at the Sheraton in Iowa City, woke up with an unexpected surprise as none of the players had hot water in their hotel rooms.

“In the first half we were so careless with the basketball,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “Maybe it was because it was such an early game. Or because we had no practice here last night.

“There were cold showers here in the hotel. That was brutal. You had to have courage to get in that cold shower.”

Guard Dee Brown joked there may have been sabotage on the team, questioning if it was only their floor without hot water.

“I think they did that on purpose, man,” Brown said. “I woke up and I thought it was just my shower. You’ve got to wake up sometimes to play these early games.

“It’s just probably something that happens. But it’s OK, I took a shower the previous night so I’m OK.”

Orange and gold?

Although the Hawkeyes enjoyed a sold-out crowd for Saturday’s game, Iowa should probably thank Illinois fans for that.

With 15,500 in the crowd, the team’s second sellout of the season, the color orange was abundant, as Illini fans made their presence known, filling about one third of the seats.

When asked if the Illinois turnout was embarrassing, Iowa head coach Steve Alford laughed and shrugged the question off.

“I’ve got enough things to try to control,” he said. “And I can’t control who buys the tickets and how the tickets get sold. That’s probably out of my hands. I’m trying to figure out who can make plays in the last four minutes.”

Brown couldn’t believe the amount of Illinois fans, and said that would never happen at Illinois.

“That won’t happen,” Brown said. “I don’t know what they were thinking about letting Illinois fans come here. It just gave us an extra boost. You will never see gold in our arena.

“I don’t know what these schools are thinking about. They just need to pack their arenas.”

Sitting out sick

Sophomore guard Rich McBride stayed on the bench all game, due to flu-like symptoms. Because of this, sophomore Warren Carter got to be the first guard off the bench.

Carter made an immediate impact as he hit a 17-foot baseline jumper within minutes of his entrance into the game.

Those two points were Carter’s only in his seven minutes of play.

Hands to yourself

“That’s the way it is. I guess on the road we are going to get calls like that. Coach does it to us in practice too. He allows us to play but he also tries to call cheap fouls on us and gives us technical fouls in practice. So we know how to deal with that type of stuff.”