Krush remains loyal

The Orange Krush stay on their feet and direct cheers during the game against Indiana at Assembly Hall on Feb. 7. Erica Magda

The Orange Krush stay on their feet and direct cheers during the game against Indiana at Assembly Hall on Feb. 7. Erica Magda

By Anthony Zilis

Having finished the regular season 13-18, the Illinois men’s basketball team has not had much success this year on the court. Saturday’s game, just the their fifth home win of the season, capped off what most would call a disappointing season for the Illini and their fans. But whatever the situation, the team knows it has the support of the Orange Krush.

Known as one of the premier student sections in the nation, Orange Krush came out in full force for the final game of the regular season against Minnesota, as they have tried to do every home game this season.

Eric Benz, Jason Kaye and Myles Hastings, all leaders of Orange Krush, agree that there is a certain level of commitment in the Orange Krush that just is not there in other student sections.

Even in the midst of such a disappointing season, members of Orange Krush have waited outside Assembly Hall every game, hours before tipoff, said Kaye, senior in Business.

“It says a lot about our fans and our fan base,” Kaye said.

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Benz, senior in LAS, said the reason has as much to do with the program as it does the fans.

“It talks about the dedication and support and the confidence we have in the program and Coach Weber,” said Benz.

In early February, the group showed its support by sending nearly 100 fans to see the Illini play at Minnesota, about a nine-hour drive, and later to Michigan. The team was 10-14 at the time of the game in Minnesota.

“Those trips … definitely aren’t for fair weather fans,” said Hastings, junior in AHS, in an e-mail. “I think it helped the team to know that their fans were still behind them and excited about Illini basketball.”

The group has also had its low points, however. After a game against Indiana on Feb. 7, it was widely reported that Orange Krush yelled obscenities at freshman guard Eric Gordon. Benz, Kaye and Hastings all said that this was not true.

“I know that Orange Krush did not start or participate in cursing cheers,” said Benz. If anything, Benz said, Orange Krush was trying to drown them out.

Kaye shared the same view.

The student season-ticket holders, not Orange Krush, started the ‘F*** you, Gordon’ chant, Kaye said. Benz and Kaye maintain that there were no obscenities yelled at Gordon by Orange Krush, and the furthest the chants went were “traitor, traitor” and “in your head, in your head.”

While the group still has not been able to shake the ugliness associated with that game, the continued support for the team has been hard to ignore.

“I’m very proud to see that there were a lot of students that came out hours before the games,” said Kaye. “They came out, got loud and supported the team.”

Benz added to this sentiment.

“I think it’s good for the team to know that they have student support,” said Benz. “Maybe it’s that support that’ll push them over the edge that game.”

Even in a down year, Hastings said that Assembly Hall can be one of the toughest places to play.

“Nothing can beat the excitement of a close college basketball game and we definitely have one of the best places to watch a game in the nation,” he said. “Krush is a huge part of that.”