Gordon responds to Orange Krush
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – They chanted “liar.” They chanted “cheater.” They chanted “Fuck you, Gordon.”
The Illinois student section, the Orange Krush, was on IU freshman guard Eric Gordon all night long.
Gordon did not hit a single field goal in the first half, and scored just one point off a free throw against the Illini. One of his four first-half misses was an air-ball, which delighted Illini nation.
He finished the night with 19 points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Gordon responded in the second half to score 18 points, but that didn’t stop the Illinois crowd from chanting “in your head.”
After staying verbally committed to the Illini for almost a year, he told IU coach Kelvin Sampson in October 2006 that he had changed his mind and wanted to play for IU.
That did not make folks in Champaign all too happy, and they let the coach and the player know that Thursday night.
With chants, T-shirts and body paint, the Orange Krush did the best they could to get into Gordon’s head. Even Illini guard Chester Frazier got in on the action early, driving his shoulder into Gordon’s chest when the two were supposed to shake hands during player introductions.
Members of the student section received large orange fliers detailing the history between Gordon, Sampson and Illinois. The flier included quotes from Gordon saying his commitment to Illinois was firm, even after IU hired Sampson.
Brad Kaye, an Illinois junior from Buffalo Grove, Ill., stood in a long line outside Assembly Hall with other members of the Orange Krush, waiting for the moment he could tell Gordon exactly how he felts.
“You can’t screw with the Illini,” Kaye said.
Kaye did sympathize with IU’s freshman guard. He said he can understand why Gordon chose the Hoosiers over the Illini, considering a lot of Gordon’s friends from North Central High School in Indianapolis are students at IU.
It’s with Sampson that Kaye has his grudge.
“I don’t think it was fair the way Kelvin Sampson recruited him, considering he was verbally committed here,” Kaye said. “I think that’s just really shady ... It can make any honest American mad.”
“He’s like the lowest of low,” fellow Illini fan Brian Durbin said. “He needs to learn how to follow rules.”
Durbin, a junior from Edwardsville, Ill., waited to enter the arena while dressed in a homemade orange and blue fleece bear suit.
Durbin could barely acknowledge Gordon’s existence.
“I don’t even want to talk about it,” Durbin said. “It makes me mad.”
So mad, in fact, that this night will be therapeutic in many ways, Durbin said.
“It’s just time to let it go,” Durbin said.
He remembers last year when his Illini knocked off Sampson and the Hoosiers with an eight-point victory in Champaign, but he said that night was just a buildup to this year’s battle.
Kaye and Durbin both hoped they could hold Gordon in check offensively – Kaye went so far as to say he didn’t want to see the former Illini commit score more than 10 points. But Kaye said he hoped the Orange Krush could send a larger message.
“The things Indiana does, we don’t stand for them at Illinois,” Kaye said. “We’re going to show that to them tonight.”
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