The Holiday Inn in Urbana hosted nearly 900 Illini basketball fans for the banquet, which was hosted by Brain Barnhardt, radio voice of the Fighting Illini. Along with announcing season awards, the banquet also allows the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to recognize student managers, student trainers, the coaching staff, and individual players, as well as commemorating the season and giving fans one last opportunity to thank the departing seniors.
ANNUAL AWARD WINNERS
Illini Rebounders Award: James Augustine
Ralf Woods Free Throw Award: Dee Brown
Lou Henson Courage Award: Brian Randle
Matt Heldman "Matto" Award: Dee Brown
Kenny Battle Most Inspirational Player Award: Dee Brown
Most Improved Player: Rich McBride
Most valuable Player: Dee Brown
If the sole focus of the banquet was to hand out the seven awards listed, it would have taken longer for the attendees to eat than it would have for the awards to be presented. However, the highlight of the banquet, as always, was the miraculous transformation of the Illini basketball staff from focused, intense basketball junkies to standup comedians of varying levels of talent. Some examples:
Ron Guenther on the 84th annual banquet: "I can't believe it's been 84 years. Loren (Tate) has covered every one of these….most of it inaccurately."
Ron Guenther on the Paint The Hall Orange promotion: "I get more questions and comments about that. Tommy Izzo probably said it best when he asked me, "How do you get all those 80 year olds in orange?"
Bruce Weber on 89 wins in 3 years: "Everybody talks about 89…I'm still pissed off that we didn't get 90!"
Bruce Weber on hip-hop music in the locker room: "I get to the game about an hour, hour and 10 before the game. Al (Martindale) punishes me by leaving the music on, and I don't know how to work the stereo."
Bruce Weber on Rod Cardinal: "Rod did retire again, for one day, he went home to his wife. I don't know what happened there, but he came back in the next day and said ‘Can I stay another year?'"
Bruce Weber on his daughter Hannah getting into pharmacy school: "Now tuition goes up to $45,000 a year, four more years….(looks at Ron Guenther)…so I gotta keep coaching for a couple more years."
Tracy Webster on CJ Jackson: "In the fall, it looked like a sniper would get to him. He'd run, and run, and on the last lap he'd just fall down."
Tracy Webster on Chester Frazier: "I think he wants to challenge me in wrestling, and I don't think that would be a good thing for him."
Tracy Webster on Jamar Smith: "First thing I remember, Dee passed the ball to Jamar, and Jamar did not shoot the ball. Dee said ‘Do our job! Do your job!' and Jamar was like, ‘What's my job?' Dee was like ‘Shoot the ball!...you didn't have to tell him twice. Now he won't pass!"
Wayne McClain on Chris Hicks: "He's done a great job smiling for us. He's got a LOT of time to smile."
Wayne McClain on Trent Meacham: "Trent's done a good job of working on his tan. I didn't hardly recognize him. When he first came in, I thought he was Chris (Hicks). We call him Cosmopolitan Jr."
Wayne McClain on Shaun Pruitt: "Shaun's our big man in the middle. Last year he was a BIGGER man in the middle….MUCH bigger. This year he dedicated himself to be a smaller man in the middle."
Wayne McClain on Brian Randle: "Brian must have failed, because he was up here last year with me with the sophomore group. They say he's pretty cerebral, but I don't know…."
Jay Price on Marcus Arnold: "The biggest problem with getting anything bad on Marcus is that no one will say anything (bad about him), but neither will Marcus. We're not sure if he speaks."
Jay Price on Warren Carter: "I wish I had half as much hair as he does." "I need the Krush to help us out here. I don't know who told Warren this, but every time he comes in the game, you all chant his name, and he thinks that means he's supposed to shoot it every time he gets it. Next year, chant ‘DEFENSE' every time he comes in!"
Jay Price on Rich McBride: "He's the only guy on the team with less hair than me, and that's a fact. That's why I like to sit next to him when the camera's on. The best thing about Rich this year is that he learned that ‘defense' is not the thing that goes around the house."
Jay Price to Coach Weber; "I just wanted to let you know that there is no such thing as a stereo anymore, Coach (referring to the previous comment by Weber about music). That went out with 8 track tapes. It's a CD player or an MP3 player. Hannah and Emily need to help him out."
Bruce Weber responding to Coach Price: "Jay just wants to stay on staff another year. I like his wife too much to let him go."
Bruce Weber on Warren Carter's ¾ length suit jacket: "How about Warren's coat. Did you see that thing? Did you not have enough time to get it altered, Warren?"
Bruce Weber on feedback from last season: "I'd have people come up to me in the store and say ‘That's alright, coach, next year you'll win 38!' ‘No, no we won't. No one has ever done that before. We won't even play 38 GAMES!'"
Bruce Weber on his broken ankle: "I appreciate Dr. Keriouac and his three shots that got me through the night. I'm not sure I coached that night, but we won, so that might be a lesson."
Bruce Weber on beating Missouri: "I think it's 6 in a row or so…..but who's counting?"
Bruce Weber on the bus breaking down enroute to San Diego: "People are yelling at us to move the bus….I can't push it."
Bruce Weber on the start of the Air Force game: "I saw Mr. Guenther, he yelled ‘Go Illini!', I saw Loren sleeping at the press table, and that was it! That's all that was there."
Bruce Weber on the Washington game: "I still get up and have nightmares. They're in black and white."
Bruce Weber on the response by the UW AD to the UCONN game: "Washington should have beat them. There's no doubt about that. Then their AD comes out publicly and reprimands the refs….was he watching the game the week before?"
Bruce Weber on the season: "One thing we did real well was foul. We fouled well…we were pretty good at that."
Bruce Weber on the Ralf Woods Award: "James wanted to know if he could stay up here and accept the free throw award…I told him to sit down. He's still mad because I took him out at the end of the All Star game for a better free throw shooter."
Bruce Weber on the Senior Day giveaways: "We tried to figure out what we could do for James….17,000 bald head wigs would have been too expensive."
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