The NCAA Tournament has started. For the first time in many, many years, I didn’t even fill out a bracket. Just could not get into it this year. Is this the inevitable consequence of your team(s) being irrelevant in March multiple consecutive years? As my son would say, ‘probably.’
There’s also a lot of other stuff going on – soccer season starting up for the kids, school events one after the other, lots of house and yard work… So many excuses. If the Fighting Illini were in – as a projected seed or even a marginal lower tier team, I’d be plotting their upsets and inevitable second weekend appearance, scouring the matchups, figuring out who will advance. Instead, Illinois fans are treated to the third arrest of a player within about three weeks. Not good, Coach, not good at all…
So I guess it’s time to root, root, root for the underdog, look for some hardworking teams to upset the blue bloods, and scout for coaches on the upswing. Games will still be on. We’ll still watch the second weekend and the Final Four closely. Maybe next year.
Weeks like this last one give me some new appreciation for my Mom. Back when me, my brother, and my sister were all in school, we were involved in multiple school activities and events, as well as additional stuff like 4-H and scouts. We were coming and going all the time – many, many trips in town. When I also reflect that she worked a second job through some of those years, well… don’t know how she did it.
She had help, of course – Grandparents, our Aunt and Uncle up the road, and friends’ parents pitched in to get us where we needed to go. Dad was there and involved in the earlier years. It was a solid but busy foundation they all laid down for us.
This week at Beemsville I had a post-work trip to school every night this week. Monday and Friday – basketball games, Tuesday – Winter Band Concert, Wednesday – PTO Meeting, and Thursday – basketball practice. This doesn’t include the wife’s regular trips to pick up from Jazz Band, IMSA (Math and Science Group), and Piano lessons… Also, the Beem family truckster went down this week and is needing some repairs. Suffice to say we couldn’t make this work without our synced google calendars and good friends pitching in.
I guess it’s not surprising I’m already fidgety this morning. Can it really be that I’ll have time to sit around and read today, maybe do some online shopping? Oh, yeah, another basketball game this afternoon for the boy…
This is how it goes sometimes. Starting last Friday, our crew attended or participated in:
- Friday: US Soccer World Cup Qualifier in St. Louis (USA 6, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 1)
- Saturday: Illinois Football v. Ohio State in Champaign, with cousins, sister, mom, and Friends (OSU 27, Illini-3)
- Sunday: Illinois Basketball v. North Dakota State with the boy (Illini 80-, NDSU-74; nice comeback in the 2nd half). And also basketball practice for the boy.
- Monday: Iles Basketball for both kids (girls tied; boys won).
- Tuesday: Iles Basketball for Sophie (win)
- Wednesday: Gym Basketball for Bruce (loss)
- Thursday: Iles Basketball practice
Seven days – and for good measure we’ll throw in a 12-18 hour stomach bug that had both kids hurting, though they each recovered in time for their events. By yesterday, I just wanted to sit on the couch. I enjoyed every one of these events, but I’m not a person who recharges around people. Needed some quiet time. Which is a good thing, because I believe we have something four of the next five days leading up to Thanksgiving…
So, yeah, we’ll get to some books, TV, and other stuff here directly.
University of Illinois alums and fans were pretty sure Mike Thomas would be gone once the football report was released. Many of us were surprised that the University decided to to it so quickly. Opinions vary on the why and what: the venerable one opines that 1) Beckman and Groce haven’t won enough, 2) Important alums are mad about the State Farm Center re-seating process, and 3) the medical issues with Beckman were a big problem. Robert at Illiniboard goes to the medical issue, as does veteran scribe Mark Tupper. Listening to the fellas on the Tay and Jay Show yesterday, they had much the same response.
If you look at the report, it certainly paints Beckman as a bumbler and a boob at best, and a bit of a bully when it came to injuries. Some of us had thought in those terms on the former points; as far as the injuries – there are a lot of coaches out there who will be looking at the report closely and updating their policies as a result. It seems like Thomas did what he could once he had awareness of the issue, but in Illinois (land of lawsuits), you have to watch your back with the whole culpable deniability. I thought Thomas was making progress on many fronts, but when you’re football coach hire turns south and your basketball coach hire is treading water, it’s time to polish up the resume. Thomas will still be making a lot of money out of this situation, and the real question is what next?
As the Internets told us this week, I is for Interim. We are now without a permanent chancellor, AD, and head football coach. The President is new. Leadership at U of I needs to step in some capacity. Could we get lucky? Could we show some courage? Could we make some hires who can make a difference and set us on a different, better path? With the state of the state’s finances and political realities, such hires are more difficult than ever. I’m hoping for sheer luck this time around.
It’s been many, many years since we failed to make it to at least one Illini basketball game during the season. For me, this streak very likely goes back decades to when I was in high school. Yes, we’re those kind of fans… So when I looked at the calendar today and saw that tonight’s final home game against Nebraska begins at 9:00, and realizing that if I take the kids to this game they wouldn’t get home until 1:00 or so, and knowing that we have our own basketball practice tonight along with the new PARCC standardized tests at school this week, well, looks like no Illinois hoops for us this year.
I suppose I could go myself, maybe try to talk my brother into going with me. Get home late and be tired tomorrow. But with his new mini-Rube at the house this probably isn’t an option. It’s a shame because I really have a lot of respect for our team’s seniors – especially Nnnanna Egwu and Ray Rice – and would like to cheer for them in person one last time. Continue reading
This weekend, Illini fans were treated to one of the strangest, most head-scratching, end-of-the-game referee decisions we have seen. It was a potential game changer with about 30 seconds to go, and because of the thin margins for teams like Illinois and Michigan State, it was a potential season changer as well. Hard to give this call justice, but here it is.
Your basic hard screen-out on a bonus free throw… What you don’t see in that little clip (or actually you start to see it) is the Spartan player looks over to be sure the ref is watching, then doubles over in agony as if he’s been groin-smacked. Maybe he was… Sure doesn’t look like it. Anyway, the refs called nothing, so they went to the video screen for a replay and assessed a technical foul – fouling out Jaylon Tate, giving the Spartans two more free throws and the ball, and sending the Illini Nation into a collective rage. Fortunately the Spartans only made one FT, gave up the ball, and Illinois won in the end. But speaking to my brother and others, we can’t remember ever seeing such a poor decision, so clearly influenced by the home crowd and the reputation of the coach (Tom Izzo, Dean of Big 10 hoops coaches). This call resulted in a twitter slap-fight between ESPN talking head Dan Dakich and the mayor of Champaign, Don Gerard (no vote-trolling there). Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, out mowing the yard, our Midwest daylight dwindling rapidly, and I’m thinking, have to get this done because when else can I mow this week… My yard takes an hour and change, so it’s not like this huge daunting task. And then it was dark, and I’m out there with my flashlight trying to finish without leaving any big stripes and strips.
This has been the Beemsville reality in September: stuff, stuff, stuff to do. The kids are multiple activity-kids, work is more intense this time of year, and the wife and I are running, running. Lots of people do it, of course, we’re not unique. But this is the excuse for the lack of sparkling original content on the blog. It’s not lack of ideas or stuff happening – going to have a couple of books to review, there’s an election on the horizon, and this whole process of coaching continues to be illuminating. But October is just as full on the event calendar, the leaves are starting to fall (and that is a big, long, job) so bear with us, please.
Debated whether or not to post this, but due to how it affects us around here…
The boy fell and broke his arm on Thursday. Took a spill off playground equipment at school. It was a bad one, a .02% break of the humerus at the elbow. What do we mean by .02%? Well, the doctor told us she’s treated probably a thousand similar breaks in kids during her career, and this was only the second one requiring her to go in surgically to reset the bones. So he was under about twice as long as they’d estimated, and yeah, we were starting to get alarmed. I started thinking about what a break like this would have meant a few generations ago, and it’s not pretty.
Good news: the bone has been set and pinned. It wasn’t a compound or spiral fracture. The initial concerns about swelling and compaction have diminished. We go in for our cast tomorrow. He should be able to recover fully.
It’s been a tough few days, though. A lot of pain for him, not much mobility, and the realization that his soccer season is over just as we were about to ramp it up. The wife has been in Mommy-adrenaline mode and will need to find a way to rest soon. Even big sister has been fighting off some kind of persistent sinus infection and hasn’t felt right.
Fortunately we had a flood here in Springfield the night of the break, so that’s given us plenty of work to do to take our minds off it!
“Who would win?” my son asked me. “Michael Bradley and Graham Zusi vs. Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. It’s two-on-two.”
“No goalkeepers?” I replied.
“Zusi and Bradley get Tim Howard. The other guys get Brad Guzan. Three-on-three.”
“Why Landon?” I asked him.
“Well, you keep saying he should be there with the team…”
That’s my boy! For the record, I took Dempsey, Donovan, and Guzan.
This discussion took place out of the blue last week. Before the World Cup, my eight-year-old son barely knew the U.S. Soccer team. He knew a few of them, but now he knows the entire roster. He’s interested, engaged. He and his sister sat and watched nearly all of each group stage match – two of them out at sports bars/restaurants, one in town. He can’t get enough World Cup.
This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day – which many have characterized as a great idea, often poorly executed. One of our local stores celebrated FCBD with some local promotion and an event. They had a good-sized crowd at the outset. They had lots of kids in the store. They had professional artists there signing their stuff. All the basics of a fairly decent FCBD. But they also made some pretty basic mistakes – some of which would be relatively easy to correct.
To begin with, the store needs to promote better. We knew about their FCBD because our friend and son’s school classmate printed up a bunch of flyers and distributed them at our school. But what about the other 15-20 grade schools in town? What about the library? We realize comics stores don’t have much budget for marketing, but even a spot in the local alternative weekly paper would have helped.
Get your website straight. This store’s site happened to be under construction, slow to load, and generally awful on the one day of the year you want to project competence.
Other issues have more to do with store/event layout and execution: Continue reading