Maybe Oct. 29, 2018 won't be recorded as a "date of infamy."
But for basketball fans of this state to see Golden State splash 92 first-half points against the Bulls in Chicago, it was certainly low tide. Imagine. Nearly a hundred. In a half.
And the full outlay of 149 points was followed closely by cellphone discussions among squad members as to whether they would practice or not.
This single game provides a headline for the top-to-bottom collapse of basketball in Illinois — NBA, college and prep — that has attained a level unimaginable in a previous century ... when Michael Jordan spearheaded Chicago's six NBA championships in the 1990s ... when the "80s belonged to the Illini" and they later reached the Final Four in 2005, marking their fifth Big Ten title in eight years ... and when blue-chip preps flooded the state.
We hark back most significantly to great prep class of 1998, which featured Corey Maggette, Frank Williams, Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons, Lance Williams, Michael Wright and Joey Range, not to overlook Damir Krupalija and Lucas Johnson.
We are now going through what might be called basketball bankruptcy. Count the ways.
— The Bulls administration faced a legitimate charge of "throwing games" last season in an effort to arrange a stronger position in the draft. Then coach Fred Hoiberg was fired after a 5-19 start because he couldn't win with the meager talent he was provided.
— Loyola Chicago is the state's collegiate outlier, riding the spiritual voice of Sister Jean to successive 2-, 1- and 1-point triumphs last March en route to the Final Four. But the Ramblers' unexpected run capped a 10-year period in which the state's 13 Division I teams missed five tournaments entirely and posted just three other NCAA victories, two by Illinois and one by Northwestern in the Wildcats' first-ever NCAA appearance in 2017.
— The state is shockingly short of high-level prep talent, Joe Henricksen of City/Suburban Hoops Report estimating that, from the class of 2017 through 2021, roughly 17 Division I players have left for out-of-state high schools or prep schools. Chicago natives Terrance Shannon and Kahlil Whitney (Kentucky commit) come quickly to mind this year.
Said Henricksen: "In 2011, we had over a dozen high-major recruits. But more recently, the classes of 2016-18-19-20 are bad, and the 2017 class was average to good. I don't recall anything like what we are experiencing in terms of the dropoff now."
So Brad Underwood, with just three Illinoisans among the UI's 12 scholarship members, has slim pickings within the boundaries.
Recruiting guru Brad Sturdy stated that, with Belleville West's E.J. Liddell favoring Ohio State, there are no in-state seniors on Underwood's radar. Appropriately, the coach was in Brooklyn, N.Y., early last week, has a lone commitment from California (6-11 Antwan January) and is expecting a five-star visitor (6-11 Kofi Cockburn) from Virginia next weekend.
And if the Illini and Northwestern (both starting 0-2 in the Big Ten) are projected deep in the lower half of a 14-team conference, 11 other in-state quintets are similarly downgraded.
Loyola, a 45-42 loser to St. Joseph's Saturday, stands 7-6 with no quality wins. The Ramblers join weak Bradley, SIU and Illinois State teams with a shot in a one-bid Missouri Valley Conference that was emaciated in April 2017 when Wichita State decided to upgrade to the American Athletic after Creighton did the same in its move to the Big East in 2013.
Elsewhere, DePaul faces a hopeless task in the packed Big East, and the UIC Flames, Chicago State and Western Illinois join the Illini in the sub-.500 ranks. Northern Illinois is currently 7-5 but that puts a small dent in the Huskies' 209-345 record since 2000-01.
Including the late Saturday night outcome in St. Louis — a 79-63 win by Missouri against Illinois — the state's 13 Division I teams are 54-66 against opponents outside the state.
That's just part of the top-to-bottom shame shrouding this once-proud basketball state.
Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org