Tag Archives: Basketball

The Curious Case of Bruce Weber

Here I sit digesting another disappointing Illinois basketball loss.  Actually, I’m not really digesting it.  I was at work until 10 and missed the whole game.  However you can’t talk Illinois basketball anymore without debating whether or not Bruce Weber should be fired as the head coach.  I read an article today that summed up exactly what I’ve been saying for years now: if you’re going to do it, you better be damn sure the next guy is better than Bruce. Continue reading

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The Fairweather Fan, Nature’s Moron

Yesterday, I went to one of my more favored sandwich shops to grab dinner.  At this particular place, they grill up the meat once you order (part of the appeal for me) so you have to wait a few minutes for your food.  No big deal.  I sat and watched the end of the UCLA-Memphis game (don’t get me started, let’s just say I had UCLA winning it all over UNC so I’m not having a good weekend) and some guy who was sitting by himself felt the need to strike up a conversation with me.  Now, let me start by saying I really hate when people do that.  It just bugs me.  Anyways, he tells me that UNC will be the next to fall, which it turned out he was right, but then he starts telling me how University of Illinois Men’s head basketball coach Bruce Weber is going to leave for the newly vacated Marquette job.  This guy then tells me he’s glad because Weber isn’t a good coach and Illinois will hire Coach K (nope, not even going to try to spell his last name) from Duke.

Where do I begin to tell this guy how dumb he is?

Let’s start with Coach K…

If he didn’t leave Duke to coach the L.A. Lakers (you know, the team with that Kobe guy) when they threw a ridiculous amount of money at him, then Coach K isn’t about to leave for Illinois.  In fact, I don’t think he’ll leave Duke until he retires, which I respect.  So that’s this guy’s dumbass moment #1.

Now for the Weber comments, and this goes for just about 90% of the “fans” in this town…

Bruce Weber is one of the best coaches in the country.  Read that again.  If you truly are an Illinois fan, pray to whatever higher power you believe in that Weber never, ever leaves.  Bruce Weber has done more with some mediocre to flat out bad teams than most coaches ever could.  I contend that in 2005 when Illinois went to the “National Title Game That Never Happened”, they got there in no small part because of Weber’s coaching.  Bill Self, whom Weber took over for after he left for Kansas, would not have gotten that team that far.  They would have lost more than one regular season game and they never would’ve gotten past Arizona in the Elite Eight.  That’s just the truth.  Now I know, you’re thinking “hey wait, Self’s Kansas Jayhawks are going to play for the title tomorrow night” but let’s just wait and see what Memphis does to them.  My guess is they’ll take Kansas apart big time, but I digress.

Yes, this past season was terrible.  Yes, Coach Weber deserves some of the blame because he didn’t land the recruits necessary to prevent this.  I readily concede those points.  However, let’s look at this last season realistically. 

Strike 1 against Weber – Jamar Smith was arguably the best player Illinois would’ve had this year, however due to your standard college kid stupidness, he was suspended for the year.  That, as much as certain people want to blame it on him, is not Bruce Weber’s fault.  If you think losing a guy who would’ve been good for 15 to 20 points a game doesn’t hurt you, you don’t know basketball at all.

Strike 2 against Weber – Eric Gordon.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said?  Did Kelvin Sampson do some shady dealing to get Gordon to go to Indiana?  It certainly looks that way.  Can anyone blame Bruce Weber for that?  Not if you have a functioning brain cell in your head.  The only way to counter that is to cheat more than the other guy cheating.  Bruce Weber doesn’t work that way, and I commend him for it.  If it means we miss out on guys like Eric Gordon, so be it.

Strike 3 – Recruiting in general.  Yes, he deserves some blame here, he will tell you that.  But before you cruicify Bruce Weber for missing out on the Derek Roses and Eric Gordons of the world, remember, only one school gets those guys.  Rose went to Memphis, Gordon to Indiana.  That means the great Coach K failed in recruiting them.  Roy Williams at UNC failed.  Billy Donnovan at Florida, Rick Pitino at Louisville, Bill Self at Kansas, Billy Gillespie at Kentucky and so on and so on failed.  Get the point here?

This is the bottom line, you don’t get to blame a guy for one (1) losing season.  By the way, look it up, since he’s been at Illinois, this was the first losing season coach Weber’s had.  Great players can overcome bad coaching, great coaching can’t overcome bad players and we had some bad players.  Believe me when I say that getting rid of Brian Randle, who is by all accounts a great kid, and Shaun Pruitt will help tremendously.  The team will be better next year, they’ll be good in 2009, they’ll be great in 2010.  Every program has down years, so back off.  Either support the team, or don’t.  I don’t care which.  Just pick one and go with it, but DO NOT DARE talk about how great a coach is when everything’s coming up roses, and how terrible he is when things inevitably go bad.

As always with these types of things, if you think you can do better, apply for the job. 

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Things and other such nonsense

So it’s been a few days since I’ve put anything up because this week’s been insane with work stuff.  Thus, I’m going to put a couple of things in to one post here.  Most of it’s sports related.  You’ve been warned.

NFL free agency began this week.  I heard an interesting argument on The Score out of Chicago that free agency is ruining the NFL and possibly sports in general.  It’s not a terrible argument, but the host was just slightly wrong.  Free agency has existed in some form since the inception of pro sports, we just didn’t call it that.  Don’t believe me?  Have you ever seen the pictures of Johnny Unitas in a Chargers jersey?  How about Joe Namath with the Rams?  Franco Harris with the Seahawks or O.J. Simpson (remember, before he started killing people he was a damn good football player) with the 49ers?  All those things happened.  Those players weren’t traded, what happened was their previous teams (in order: Colts, Jets, Steelers, and Bills) decided not to offer them new contracts.  However, the players and obviously other teams thought they could still play.  So those teams offered them contracts and the players signed.  How is that any different from free agency?  The way that free agency is ruining sports is that it creates ridiculous contracts.  For example, yesterday former Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian signed a 6 year 42 million dollar contract with the Minnesota Vikings.  Don’t get me wrong, Berrian can play and we’ll certainly miss him in Chicago, but he ain’t worth 42 million.  That’s what free agency does.  It creates a market that’s vastly inflated which leads to increased ticket prices that keep real fans from being able to afford to go to games anymore.

Spring training started as well.  I like the Red Sox to repeat.  They didn’t do much in the off-season to get better, but they didn’t get worse, and when you’re already the best team in baseball, shouldn’t that be enough?  The Tigers are probably going to be the favorites this year because they pulled a Patriots and became a walking, talking fantasy team, but we saw how that worked out for the Pats.  I think the same thing happens to the Tigers.  Cub fans, stop talking.  You will not win the World Series this year.  Fukudome is not the combination of Ichiro and Hideki Matsui like Lou Pinella said.  If he was, don’t you think the Yankees and Red Sox would’ve been all over him?  Yet neither team offered him a contract.  That says a lot about him as a player.  I think he’ll be solid, but he’s not going to be enough to overcome the massive lack of pitching the Cubs have.  I expect my White Sox to finish third in the AL Central this year.  I don’t think they can overcome the Indians or Tigers unless both teams get decimated by injuries.  I do however think the Sox will play much better this year, but I’m convinced that the bullpen is still trying to kill me.

Finally, I want to make sure you’re aware of an absolute travesty that’s happening in Seattle.  The Seattle Supersonics have been the city’s NBA franchise for 41 years.  They brought home the only professional championship Seattle has ever won.  Seattle is a wonderful city with truly great fans and they’re being screwed in the worst way.  Clay Bennett, an Oklahoma oil man bought the Sonics and, despite lip service to the contrary, immediately began working on moving the team to Oklahoma City.  Don’t get me wrong, OKC deserves a team, they have great fans, but they don’t deserve the Sonics.  Seattle does and only Seattle.  Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Charlotte have all demonstrated they aren’t basketball towns.  Memphis in particular could move to OKC and frankly, no one would care.  Yet Mr. Bennett will move the Sonics to Oklahoma City and Seattle will find itself without NBA basketball for the first time in 41 years.  The NBA could stop this.  The league has that power, yet they refuse to do it.  Why?  NBA commissioner David Stern is good friends with Clay Bennett.  In fact, Stern inducted Bennett in to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.  See?  Collusion doesn’t just happen in politics.  Why should you care?  Well, because first of all this is a crime and it’s truly heartbreaking.  Second, if it can happen to Seattle, it can happen to anyone.  Not that long ago, L.A. had two NFL franchises, now they have none.  Imagine a world where Chicago has only one baseball team, no NHL franchise, and the Bears play in Milwaukee.  How about the Yankees in New Jersey or the Packers in San Antonio?  Granted, those are extreme examples, but remember that prior to the city of Chicago authorizing the remodel of Soldier Field, the Bears were going to go play in Gary, Indiana.  So while the Packers are probably the only team in all of pro sports that are safe from relocation because they’re owned by the city of Green Bay, literally every other team is open to this.  Is there anything you can do to stop it?  Nope.  Congress spends far too much time pouring over pictures of Roger Clemens at a pool party at Jose Canseco’s house from 1998 like it’s the Zapruder film, yet they won’t step in to help out the city of Seattle.  You’ve gotta love those priorities.

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