The Daily Illini wants to hear your 2005 Illini basketball stories

Where were you when Illinois came back from down 15 points with four minutes left to beat Arizona in the 2005 NCAA Regional Final and advance to the Final Four?

I remember where I was: the upper deck at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, I was 12 years old and in the sixth grade. I was sitting with my parents, my older sister and two uncles. We had six tickets, three in one row and three in the row directly behind it. Allstate Arena was as orange that day as State Farm Center is for an Illinois home game.

I don’t remember much about the game except for the end. Arizona extended the lead to 15 points with some four minutes to play. We watched the sliver of red fans drown out the arena full of orange. At about the same time, two orange-clad fans next to us — a man and a woman — stood up to leave.

“I don’t think we can do it,” I distinctly remember the woman saying as she shuffled past us to the aisle. The man, like many Illini fans at that moment, had nothing to say.

We never saw them again.

They were wrong.

The tide turned — a steal here, a turnover there. The fans in orange became louder. It all came to a head with Deron Williams’ shot to tie things up and the bedlam that ensued. Overtime is a blur. And then the game was over and Illinois was going to the Final Four. It seemed to have happened that fast when I think of it now, 10 years later.

That is my story. But we at The Daily Illini want to hear your stories. Where were you, Illini fans, when Illinois came back against Arizona? Where did you watch the Final Four? The national championship game? The Wake Forest win? The Ohio State loss?

Tell us your 2005 Illini basketball stories — both the joyous ones and the heartbreaking ones. Stories don’t have to be limited to the Arizona game or the Final Four. Tell us what you remember about that year, any moment of that magical run.

Our favorites will run in next week’s 10-year anniversary edition, which will be on newsstands March 17. Email stories to [email protected] Every Illini fan remembers that year, and we want to hear your side of the story.

We hope to hear from you.

Sean is a senior in Media.

sphammo2@dailyillini.com

@sean_hammond