Tag Archives: college 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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March Madness…It’s FAAAANTASTIC!

Ugh.

Wait, that doesn’t cover it….

(Screaming expletives)

That’s better.

I love the NCAA tournament.  I really do, but I find I have a much harder time enjoying it anymore.  That’s because I, like so many of us, gamble on it.  Not a lot mind you, but $15 is $15, I mean that’s at least two trips to Taco Bell.  I watch, and I enjoy the games, but when oh say….Georgetown loses in the second round and I have them in the Final Four, I get a little upset.  Granted part of that is my hyper-competitive nature, but still.  So I wonder now if I should stop joining pools.  Part of me says I should just join ones on-line and see if I can win a new TV or something like that and not put forth any of my hard earned money so I can enjoy the games again.

Nah.  Where’s the fun in that?

I like to think that’s what makes things like the tournament fun.  Sure, Davidson becomes the bane of my existence, but unless they make it to the championship game and somehow beat UCLA, I more than appreciate what they’re currently doing in the tournament.  Now, without the money on the line, would I still watch?  Yes, yes I would.  Would I feel compelled to watch every game I can, check the Internet for scores while at work, and watch the scoreboards at the top of the screen?  Nope.  I would watch a little and if I happened to get a blowout game, I’d flip it and not come back for quite a while which would’ve been terrible because this year, I would’ve missed some really great games.

Which leads me to this…

For once CBS has gotten it right.  I usually kill CBS for their sports coverage (to be fair, I kill Fox too).  In fact, here’s what I wrote last year after round 1 was in the books….

CBS should be forced to give up the tournament.  Seriously.  Now, I’ll give them this, they managed to get the HD mostly right after being pretty average for the Super Bowl and flat out terrible for the GRAMMYs.  However, they insist on keeping Jim Nantz and Billy Packer and that’s just unacceptable.  You want a good play-by-play team?  Put Jay Bilas, whom they get on loan from ESPN every year, and the great Gus Johnson together.  Every game would feel like the title game with those two doing them.  Also, they refuse to break from your game if you’re in a “home market” to go to a better game.  Here’s what I mean:

Being the home of the University of Illinois, Champaign gets “home market” status for any Big 10 team playing in the tournament.  So while Nevada and Creighton played a nail biter overtime game, CBS would not break away from the Wisconsin game in Champaign.  Keep in mind that for the final 4 minutes and all of overtime of the Nevada game, the Wisconsin lead was double digits.  There were people in Madison yelling at CBS to break away.

Ah but then came this year.  CBS did break away from the Wisconsin game, and any other game that wasn’t close, to show you potential upsets or games that went down to the wire.  Well done CBS, well done.

So, yes, I could do what the NCAA wants me to do and not put money on the tournament, but really I think I’ll just be smart from here on out and never, ever pick Georgetown again.

Seriously, what’s a Hoya anyways?

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Question: What’s a Hoosier?

Answer: corrupt.

At least they are right now.  After decades upon decades of running a clean program under the legendary Bobby Knight, Indiana basketball fans are embarrassed and ashamed.

Now, don’t get it twisted, I don’t like Indiana University…at all.  I’m an Illinois fan and frankly, I’m enjoying this whole fiasco immensely.  First, IU fired Knight.  Maybe it was justified, maybe it wasn’t, I don’t know.  I’ll be honest, even though it’s sacrilegious to say around here, I respect Bobby Knight.  Yes, he’s intense and over the top, but he’s a great coach and he always, I repeat ALWAYS, did it right.  He was replaced one of his assistants, Mike Davis.  Davis kept the tradition going, even taking Indiana to the Final Four, but he too was fired.  Again, I shouldn’t admit it, but I liked Mike Davis.  You had to respect the guy.  He was put in an impossible situation by having to follow a legend and he handled it with class and dignity.

Enter Kelvin Sampson.  Once the president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), Sampson was presiding over the organization when the Ethics Committee of the NABC was formed to address the disturbingly high amount of NCAA recruiting rules violations that were occurring nation wide.  That same committee reprimanded Sampson after he was placed on three years probation by the NCAA.  Seems that while he was the head coach at Oklahoma, Sampson thought it would be a good idea to make roughly 550 illegal calls to recruits.  As a result, the NCAA barred Sampson from recruiting off campus and making phone calls for one year, ending May 24, 2007.  Sampson left Oklahoma for Indiana on March 29, 2006, thus he was still on probation when he became the head coach for the Hoosiers. 

February 8, 2008 – The NCAA informed Kelvin Sampson and Indiana University that they had evidence that Sampson not only violated his probation by making more illegal phone calls and participating in conference calls with recruits, but they had evidence that he lied to the NCAA about it.  On February 14, 2008 Indiana announced that Sampson’s job is on a game by game status.

That stuff above doesn’t even include the rather dubious recruiting of Eric Gordon, an Indiana phenom who had originally committed to Illinois, but magically changed his mind after Kelvin Sampson hired several people close to the Gordon family as assistants.  Did Sampson cheat when it came to recruiting Gordon?  I don’t know.  It certainly looks like it though doesn’t it?  Here’s a guy who cheated, got caught, knew what would happen if he did it again, cheated anyways, got caught again and lied about it.  Hard to believe the Eric Gordon situation is on the up and up.  Expect Sampson, and most likely Indiana’s Athletic Director who hired him, to be fired by this time next week.  Expect the NCAA to place Indiana on probation for at least three years sometime this summer. 

All of this speaks to a much larger problem though.  College coaches are under so much pressure to win, and to win right now, that they resort to cheating to land the best players and forget what college is supposed to be about.  These kids are supposed to be there to get an education first, but that’s just not the case anymore.  Frankly the system needs an overhaul.  When it comes to College Football and Basketball, the truth is that it’ll always be more about winning than education, but the NCAA must overhaul the recruiting process.  No more “Soft Verbal” or “Verbal” commitments.  To me, if you commit to someone, you follow through.  That’s what a man does.  Now if a kid goes to a school, realizes that they just don’t fit in there, or don’t like it there for whatever reason and want to transfer, that’s fine.  I have no problem with that, but a kid shouldn’t be allowed to commit to a school, have another coach recruit them even harder after they’ve made their verbal commitment, de-commit, and go to the other school.  In fact, sometimes, kids will continue to be recruited after they sign a letter of intent, which is supposed to be the final word on which school they’ll attend.  More often than not, that only happens when a coach is fired or resigns.  Still though, I think that sets a bad precedent for these kids.  We’re telling them: “hey, it’s ok to back out of promises.”  That, to me, is just a terrible lesson to teach.

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