In the annals of absurd reasons for athletes to miss time, this is a new one.
Illinois forward Matthew Mayer returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out the previous two days. It turns out he was sidelined with “caffeine poisoning.”
Let Mayer explain.
“I’ve actually been sick the last few days,” Mayer told reporters Wednesday. “I had caffeine poisoning. I literally had six Monsters the day of the game. I only had one before, but I had five after because I like a caffeine-induced euphoria to play video games in.
“I could barely get out of bed the next day. It was basically like a caffeine hangover. So this is my first day of practicing since then.”
Fortunately for Mayer and Illinois, the “caffeine poisoning” didn’t cost him any game time. He played in Sunday’s loss to Ohio State, in which he tallied 11 points, three rebounds and two blocks while one Monster energy drink in. The game tipped off a noon ET, leaving Mayer plenty of time to down five more Monsters before and during what sounds like a video-game marathon once he got back to Champaign.
What video game he played is unclear. As are his results.
It sounds like Mayer is fully recovered and ready to get back to work. A tough home game against a Michigan team fighting for its NCAA tournament life awaits Thursday before Sunday’s season finale at No. 5 Purdue.
Illinois is projected as an NCAA tournament team but would serve its own best interests by not entering Big Ten tournament play on a three-game losing streak. Mayer is a starter who averages 12.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. Illinois needs him at his not-over-caffeinated best.