Four seniors say goodbye to Assembly Hall

“Thank you, seniors” echoed throughout the Assembly Hall on Sunday as the Illini’s four graduating seniors waved to the home crowd for the last time.

Unfortunately for Illinois, Senior Day was marked by a 74-66 loss to Michigan State – the first loss on Senior Day since 1999.

Seniors Chester Frazier, Trent Meacham, Calvin Brock and C.J. Jackson walked to center court with their families before the game to receive their plaques and a few words from head coach Bruce Weber.

After the game, Frazier said the afternoon meant a lot.

“Looking at my other senior teammates made me a little emotional,” Frazier said. “I was a little jacked up before the game. Knowing it was my last game at Assembly, I was ready to play.”

Frazier wasn’t the only “jacked up” senior Sunday afternoon. Brock entered the game early in the first half and immediately contributed four points, but was limited to just seven total minutes in the game due to foul trouble. He finished with six points on 3-of-3 shooting.

“It was a sad day for (Brock),” Weber said. “He gave us a nice spark off the bench … but he never really gets involved with us because of the foul trouble. It would be nice if we could get him playing well down the stretch.”

Meacham struggled offensively, finishing out his career at home with six points on two three-pointers. The guard did manage to find his teammates, finishing with a team-high four assists.

A walk down memory lane

Illinois alumnus Deon Thomas had a banner raised to the rafters at halftime, honoring him as one of the 30 greatest players in Illini basketball history.

Thomas is Illinois’ all-time leading scorer with 2,129 points. As a four-year starter and All-Big Ten selection, he holds the record for career field goals (803) and blocked shots (177). He also sits in third place for field goal percentage (.601) and career rebounds (846).

After graduating from Illinois in 1994, Thomas was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks but instead opted to play overseas in Israel. Sunday was the first time Thomas has been back to the Assembly Hall since he graduated.

“The best thing is to come back here and see the changes that have taken place here at the University,” Thomas said. “It’s amazing. Just the campus and the facilities and everything; these guys have it good.”

After retiring from playing basketball last year, Thomas started his coaching career at the University School of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Thomas said this season the Suns went 22-6 and made it to the regional finals for the first time in school history. Thomas said he wouldn’t mind spending more time around Illini basketball.

“Hopefully I’ll be back and be able to help around here during the football season or whatever coach (Weber) needs,” Thomas said. “If he needs me, all he has to do is call me.”

We’re not players, we just Krush a lot

After another year of the Orange Krush cheering on the Illini and getting into the heads of their opponents, the top three fundraisers were honored for their donations during halftime on Sunday.

Megan Devine, Christian Miller and Jenny Menacher each received two round-trip tickets from American Airlines for their efforts this season.