Tate: A boo for booing

Tate: A boo for booing


— A shameful response

Defined, booing falls somewhere between shabby and utterly contemptible.

That’s my opinion. If Wisconsin forges ahead of the Illini tonight and you can’t hold it back, shame on you.

Of course, there are better authorities on this subject because, like the fellow who can’t whistle, I can’t boo.

Maybe it’s psychological. All I know is the lips form, and nothing comes out. Just can’t do it. I can no more emit a boo than I can stop a sneeze.

Not that I lack feelings of disapproval when things go bad. Criticizing comes easy, often too loudly. But booing, no. It is so foreign that, when it strikes my ears, I can’t help but think less of the person emitting it.

A further confession is that perhaps I have a deaf ear because, when UI coach John Groce complained about it Saturday night — following an 81-74 basketball loss to Iowa — it wasn’t clear to what he referred.

Seated 12 feet from where Groce stands at the State Farm Center, you’d think we would hear the same crowd noises. He heard a chorus, I heard a solo.

Cold shoulder

“I was ticked off,” Groce was quoted by Marcus Jackson. “People were booing. You can say stuff about me. Don’t touch my guys.”

My first thoughts:

— OK, that’s seven straight losses, and the team is in the Big Ten cellar. A lot of folks are braving cold, icy conditions to attend, and they aren’t happy. In the din of an aroused crowd, there could have been some heckling Saturday out of my earshot.

— Iowa had a few raucous fans there. Maybe Groce heard comments from them, or perhaps Illini fans booing them when they celebrated.

— Was the response to Lou Henson’s brief appearance on the videoboard — Louuuuuu! — mistaken for boos?

— Some fans seemingly attend games to chastise the refs. That’s a favorite winter pastime.

— Boos don’t come with names attached. How do you distinguish the target?

Groce preferred to drop the subject Monday, but provided a brief explanation to clarify the matter.

The coach perceived catcalls directed toward two veteran players pictured prominently in Sunday’s News-Gazette, Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand. Both played prominent roles in a rally that put Illinois ahead, 66-61, but couldn’t finish it off. Bertrand scored 20 points but made one turnover — just one — and it resulted in a three-point play by Roy Devyn Marble that increased the Iowa lead from 73-72 to 76-72. Bad timing, Joe.

Turning it around

Groce’s response Saturday was an act toward protecting two hard-working members of his squad, while accepting any barbs on his own back. He also made a point of applauding the ever-energized Orange Krush.

Upbeat as usual Monday, he let the talking points carry over:

“The first 10 minutes weren’t very good, but the last 30 minutes were the best we’ve played on both ends of the court. We executed, and we shared the ball. And the freshmen did a better job screening and cutting.

“That’s the hardest a team of mine has ever played in a loss. We have to build on that.”

The real problem is that Iowa has deeper, more experienced talent, ruled the fast break (10-0) and second-chance points (20-6), and received a season-best 15-point, 12-rebound performance from sub Gabriel Olaseni. Now comes Wisconsin, winner of six straight in the series, and the last four by margins of 70-56, 74-51, 74-68 and, last month, 95-70.

So let’s issue another call for patience. Face reality. The Illini have five freshmen on a 10-man scholarship squad. They’re generally overmatched.

Focus on the big picture: If this turns out to be a lost season, it will have little or no impact on what really matters, which is Groce’s ability to ultimately get it headed back in the right direction.

Don’t boo. The guys are trying. And besides, it’s not nice.

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.

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CKelly wrote on February 04, 2014 at 6:02 am

I agree, Loren. It's natural to be deeply disappointed when the team you love falls short of the mark, and even worse when your team decends into a slump. And, in these days of say-whatever-you-want internet anonymity, it's perhaps not too surprising that some folks forget that their boos hurt. Certainly most folks wouldn't even consider being that rude face to face with a young player or coach. 

But, in the end, words DO hurt, and these players and coaches are people too, and deserve our respect, and yes, our support - win or lose. A fan who cannot support our beloved Illini when times are down doesn't deserve to enjoy the team when things are good, and should probably just stay home.

JESalukIL4ever wrote on February 04, 2014 at 6:02 am

Really?  Booing is unacceptable?  Wow the times we live in.  We dont want to hurt anyone's feelings?  Lets just clap and tell them they are doing a good job as they lose 10 games in a row games.  The political correctness in this country is ridiculous.

illini5fan wrote on February 04, 2014 at 7:02 am

As a season ticket holder for 20+ yrs and a diehard Illini basketball fan, i have to basically agree with Loren. Fans do NOT boo their own players in our house....period. I have to admit to occasionally throwing out some boos toward officials and a player on opposing team who has done something mean spirited but never boo one of our players. Yes, i have occasionally stated to my spouse that i thought a player should be sitting on the bench and someone else out there but never thinking that player should be booed. Sorry, but it does make illini nation appear tacky when that happens... Agreed this yr has been frustrating but team deserves our support. We do have to keep in mind where this team was predicted to finish in conference this yr and "no one" expected NWU or Penn St to play as they are this yr. Some players make amazing improvements and others just don't have the talent regardless of how hard they play or are coached. I believe the majority of Illini fans have been positive this yr and the booing was not widespread and hopefully coach Groce is aware.  I continue to be encouraged with the play of Nunn, Hill and Tate ..... even have seen improvement in Morgan, which is hopeful also. We all knew Groce had to build his program so let's be patient and give coaches et team support!! (Really pleased to see Orange Crush is stronger and more enthusiastic than in past few yrs!!)

Meachex wrote on February 04, 2014 at 8:02 am

I guess Loren forgot that the FabFive were all freshmen.  We have five experienced starters.


Moonpie wrote on February 04, 2014 at 8:02 am

It's Sir Pollyanna Tate Legend that is shameful for trying to dictate how people should feel. That's contemptible, but that's how he's hated fans for decades.And he implies he's somehow morally superior to everyone else. What a joke. Booing is a natural emotion and expression, especially in the face of the propaganda Tate and Groce churn out about how "tough" the team is.

ERE wrote on February 04, 2014 at 8:02 am
Profile Picture

Perhaps the lack of a real enthusiastic, no matter what, fan base is a major factor in the Illini basketball/football slump? How about doing for your team instead of what your team does for you?

These whiners are sure not the great fans I grew up with in CU...unfortunate transplants or just miserable kvetchers emboldened by their ability to post with "authority" all over the internet? 

Go ahead and boo...I am sure it will really impress the recruits in attendance, so the result of it will only be what you knuckleheads deserve.

This team tries hard. That's about all we can really expect. 


Illini '73 wrote on February 04, 2014 at 10:02 am

I loved the Peyton Manning commercial a few years ago where he went around to different peoples workplaces and cheered for them as the performed whatever jobs they were doing.  He could have also been booing when these people didn't live up to expectations.  I wonder if the "boo-ers" are always the best at what they do.  I doubt if there is anyone publicly booing them and calling them out on blogs like this when they are not.

DaisyJ wrote on February 04, 2014 at 11:02 am

The booing will stop when the play becomes sane.

Groce can stop the booing by stopping the ball hogging by Traciy.

Groce can stop the booing by stopping the picks by Egwu

Groce can stop the booing by stopping the no play offensive.


Stop playing Y ball.

coaxhdufus wrote on February 05, 2014 at 8:02 am

DaisyJ...100% correct. 1 or 2 games it's the players fault, 8 straight = STFU Groce and do your job

Mudhoney wrote on February 04, 2014 at 11:02 am

I don't believe in booing my team.  Nothing to do with political correctness. Just a jerk response.  I'm ok with booing opposing players or refs.  That's called home court advantage.  I'm not buying freshman excuse either.  This team should be better.  How bout a full court press to get some easy baskets and some open 3's in transition?  Too much talent on this team to lose 7 straight.

jturner wrote on February 04, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Some thoughts on booing. 1. If the team is so tough, it shouldn't bother them or the coach. 2. Coach says boo me not the players, maybe the majority of the boos were directed at him - his game prep and bench coaching. 3. dogs bark, fans boo - it is one of the few ways they have to express themselves. 4. It can indeed become inappropriate if excessive or overly personal (both subjective measures). - I refer you to a national sports column a few years back where an Illini fan was observed louding calling out Illini players in a very person way for poor play and decisions. Did I say fan, I meant leader of the program - our former Atheletic Director. Keep it in perspective, play better.

I'm sure Loren took RG to the woodshed for his behavior against VaTech.

aaeismacgychel wrote on February 04, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I made a comment about the booing live when watching the game. I think it occured when the Illini went down 19 or 21 and had given up perhaps the 6th offensive rebound to Iowa in 4 possessions. Illinois was truly playing some terrible basketball at that point. In fact it was some of the worst basketball I've ever seen Illinois play. Not for lack of skill but for complete lack of effort. There was no diving on the floor for loose balls, Ray Rice dogged it on what should've been an easy steal-layup, and Illinois looked like they had no interest in the game. And I'll be honest, I was really upset with how we were playing. Quite frankly, I thought Groce should've benched everyone who had played to that point not named Joseph Bertrand or Jaylon Tate. We probably should've been down 40 at that point. Then I heard the booing, and I commented that the crowd had started to turn, and this could get extremely nasty.

I am personally against booing your own players- I don't see how that's beneficial or does anything except shatter confidence. It's not like it'll make people play harder or make baskets. But if there was a game to ever boo the Illini, that game was probably it. Those were as disappointing a first 13 minutes as I've seen Illinois play. That said, I did not boo. I could see why people might want to but I can't agree or condone it. And really, all I can point to is the comeback they had from down 21. You can't do that without heart and wanting to win. You can't boo your own player for that.

jyoung wrote on February 08, 2014 at 8:02 am

I wonder how many of the booing knuckleheads know what it feels like to be booed by your own fans.  NO GOOD purpose is served for your team. Just stay home if you don't like the the way things are going.