IHSA State Tournament Superlatives and Thoughts!!!!
Updated: Mar 29, 2022
My thought may be controversial to some, but as folks that know me will say, that's just how Big Tim is. Here we go:
1) Move to Champaign was a rousing success: This is my first time as media and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The access to the floor and the media room was great. Good questions by all the media members, and a good comfort zone in that room. All coaches and players answered the questions and acted with class the entire weekend. Thanks to Matt Troha and the IHSA for the hospitality. The screens where we could watch conference tournaments was a nice touch. Parking close to the media entrance was wonderful especially for the historic cold weather this weekend. It was as low as 18 degrees outside.
2) Some fans and coaches complained about the format and Champaign. I sat at a breakfast on Friday morning and some fans complained that the hotels were too far from the arena. Also no shuttles from the hotel to the arena like they have in Peoria for the state tournament. I heard one coach who lost the first game complain about the format of his team having to play 2-3 hours after a loss. It was a coach that played the second semifinal. Good points but not sure what can be done with this format. I did talk to a IHSA member and he said the board hears all suggestions and will talk about what can be done better for the fans and players. Also in Peoria a lot of them said they could keep their car parked all weekend when the tournament was there. They said you couldn't do that in Champaign.
3) Champaign is a better destination for the players than Peoria. Young men usually want to have to chance to play on the floor of the flagship school in the state. My opinion is that would be Loyola Chicago(dig at Illini fans lol), but for the most part State Farm Center is state of the art and not really a bad seat in there. I was told the seats are more comfortable in that arena than the Peoria Civic Center. I'm not sure if there was an "experience" in State Farm like it was in Peoria. I could be wrong in this as I was so busy with my media commitments.
4) The employees in the arena were first class. They were outstanding and treated everyone with respect. Nice and friendly to talk to and politely helped folks to their seats, or gave good directions. The IHSA Cameraman on the floor was very polite and showed the media camera folks where and how to take pictures of the title teams.
5) Hotels to me were very close as I was only ten minutes away from the arena and an easy drive from the area I was staying in. I know some folks had to get rooms further away from the arena. I was blessed to be able to get my reservation pretty early in the process.
6) Did I say it was cold? 18 degrees is not fun, this is the result of having the tournament a week earlier now. In essence it's a good thing as it does not interfere with the NCAA tournament and should help draw more fans to the State Farm Center. I have to admit the athletic facilities at the University of Illinois are much improved and should help their recruiting.
7) Chicago Public League does not win a State Title for the first time since 2005: https://www.ihsa.org/data/bkb/records/team1-2.htm. The four class format has helped the Chicago Public League immensely. Some coaches at the time was very worried giving up their automatic bid, but it has worked nicely. WHAT.....A.......RUN.......!!!!!! This though will have the Public League Coaches thinking: How can we get our mojo back? The suburban schools are not scared of their teams like they used to be. I venture to say it was about a 5-6 point advantage for a Chicago Public League Red team when they played a suburban team. Also a lack of respect from the Chicago Public League teams. I still believe the Chicago Public League Red is the best conference in America for high school basketball. The results this year were ugly for CPS. Is it a one year irregularity? Or will it become a pattern? We will see.
8) Sacred Heart Griffin(Springfield) and Nashville won basketball State Titles after losing in the Football State Title games that they played in November. Junior guard Keshon Singleton of Sacred Heart Griffin, who's a football player, hit a last second three pointer from the top of the key. It bounced around about 4 times and in at the buzzer. It was #5 on ESPN's Top Plays last night and this morning. Nashville's senior forward Saxton Hoepker hit the game winning layup then preserved it with a last second blocked shot to take the title. What a way to end a career.
9) Sad that this was the last time I see this Glenbard West team as presently constituted. They were a joy to watch, the connection of these seniors, the talent, the unselfishness, the team basketball, and playing for not only each other, but a fallen teammate(#BK32). This team will be remembered forever and is an all time team in Illinois High School Basketball.