Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 2/18/12

What can be said of the 2011-12 Illinois Fighting Illini? I’ve already talked about how the coach, Bruce Weber, is 99% gone at the end of the season,  I’ve highlighted how the current college basketball collapse closely mirrors the college football cave-in during the exact same academic year.

I’ve even mentioned how the current team has numerous stylistic and composition similarities to another team, ’98-’99, which set the school record for losses.

However, this picture says it all.

You can’t say Meyers Leonard doesn’t care anymore as you see him crying on the Illini bench at the tail end of their 80-57 rout at the last place in the Big Ten Nebraska Cornhuskers.

And you can’t make fun of him for crying on the bench right now, if you’re also one of those people who previously made fun of him for not caring.

And I don’t know how this screen capture from the Big Ten Network, which is currently making the rounds  affects Leonard’s NBA Draft stock.

All I know is Illinois just lost a game that was even uglier than the score indicates to the worst team in the league, and the picture above says a thousand words about it. There are four games left on the schedule, plus conference tournament, but everything already appears over from a practical sense.

Yet there will be stories, there will be news. Do you know what our most popular Illini related news item has been this year? By miles and miles, it was my report that an Illini Illinettes member (cheer squad) is sister to WWE Diva Maria Kanellis.

Yes, even in one of the darkest years of Illini hoops, the most popular story is still one of cheering.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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