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 awhile – about seven months to be exact – since my last post. It’s been pretty easy to not blog during that timeframe, because, well, we’ve been busy in Beemsville.
Mostly it’s the kids. I’m coaching their sports teams and involved in their activities. I’m on the PTO and that’s been even busier this Fall after the co-Pres and chief water carrier for our PTO unexpectedly moved and switched schools. I have additional work responsibilities and the wife is busier than ever.
But that’s life for us: it moves along.
Still, I found I missed the blogging and journaling. I have some books I’d like to review, some thoughts on The Walking Dead, Juergen Klinnsman, the Illinois political mess, and other random topics. Also, the kids are getting old enough to share their thoughts from time to time. And they’re pretty good writers with interesting perspectives.
So let’s see if we can reboot and see what happens.
Back from vacation, having recovered from my college basketball illness in time to have watch most of the Sweet 16 games down to last night’s final. And the title of the post says it well. Duke and Coach K get too many calls. They just do. Yes, their guys made plays and shots when needed. Yes, they run an offense designed to open driving lanes and draw contact. Yes, they were lucky the Badgers were worn down from the Kentucky game.
However, if you look at last night’s championship, you’ll note a very key point in the game, with Wisconsin playing well and up by about 7-8 at around the 15 minute mark of the second half. Suddenly, the refs find their whistles. The same thing happened against Michigan State and Gonzaga. Four fouls in a row. Every bump is a foul. A Duke player jumps into the defender it’s a foul. Duke charges are instead blocks on the other team, etc. On the other end, Duke hand-checked with abandon and it wasn’t called. Maybe the refs can only take so much of Coach K’s voice and at some point they just capitulate and start making those calls.
No one was more surprised or annoyed than Wisconsin coach, Bo Ryan. As he told reporters after the game, and as he’s said many times, “We just don’t foul.” It’s pretty much true. The Badger haven’t been whistled for many fouls this year or in recent years with Ryan as the coach. It’s how they play and also testament to Bo Ryan’s own sideline presence. So it must have been pretty disheartening to see Duke in the double-bonus with so much time left.
As an Illini fan, I truly didn’t like the thought of Wisconsin winning a title. It just doesn’t seem right. But as a basketball fan I was really pulling for the Badgers down the stretch. A big part of it was the officiating. Too much. And that’s a shame.
I don’t have a bracket this year. Just don’t have the inclination. This is what those awful final three games of the Illini season have done. No tourney analysis, no matchups that can’t be missed. Bah.
How does this happen? A question for the coaching staff and all fellow suffering Illini. How do we wake up today and it’s been 10 years since our last deep tourney run. How do you not show up for half the game against Purdue and the entire game against Michigan, when all you need is one win to get in? And as far as that NIT game – let’s all do ourselves a favor and try to forget that one…
We’ve known for some time this team was flawed, capable of bad stretches, offensively challenged at times. But this ending collapse revealed flaws in the whole system – the recruiting, the offensive and defensive systems, the bench coaching… And now we’re all asking ourselves if John Groce can be the guy. Because nearly everyone wants him to be the guy: he works hard, he says the right things, he’s a Midwest and Big 10 type of coach… Really don’t want to head into this off-season with these kinds of questions about him. Continue reading
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
The boy has been watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold on Netflix lately. I knew about this series and may have watched it once or twice during it’s original run (2008-11), but I didn’t recall how fun and well-done this show was.
This is four-color era Batman, with a definite nod to Adam West and Burt Ward and the lighter comic styles of the Silver Age. From its bright color palette to its jazz-infused score and music, the show gives us a less dark and more fun version of DC’s famous detective. The basic premise goes back to the old Brave and the Bold comic, which featured some form of super-heroic team-up (usually, but not always featuring Batman). And they weren’t always the A-list/Justice League-type heroes. So with this series, the producers took a bit of a gamble to include lesser-known heroes like Red Tornado, Phantom Stranger, Blue Beetle, etc.,as well as some of the more obscure (and silly) villains. You will also see Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Robin and more familiar faces, but a lot of the show’s charm is in seeing the full breadth of DC characters. 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