Illinois coach John Groce is borrowing his alma mater's most famous tradition.
Since Groce was a graduate assistant coach at NAIA Taylor University in the mid-1990s, students from the tiny Indiana school have packed their cramped 2,500-seat gym on the Friday before fall semester finals week but stayed eerily silent for the opening minutes of the game. Only after Taylor scores its 10th point do they erupt with cheers, applause and general mayhem.
Groce introduced the tradition at Illinois during the Illini's home opener last season. The second "Orange Hush" took place Friday night during Illinois' season opener against Alabama State.
It took a while for Illinois to get its 10th point, but the Illini finally did it on a corner jump shot from Joseph Bertrand. That inspired a Taylor-esque roar from the "Orange Krush" student section, though it seemed as though the Illinois alumni sections weren't so quick to embrace the new tradition.
At this point, Illinois' "Orange Hush" is no substitute for Taylor's "Silent Night" since it lacks the zany holiday costumes and arena-wide participation of its predecessor. Still, give Groce credit for taking one of college basketball's best small-school traditions and bringing it to the program where he now coaches.
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