R.I.P. Illini, Devine

Wow. Did the Illini suck today against Purdue or what? Let me count the ways in which their offense continues to be utterly inept. (Oh, fuck it. Who has that sort of time?) Frazier looked dumbfounded in the second half as the Purdue D gave him the Jason Chappell treatment and sagged into Pruit on the post. I keep attempting to come up with new excuses for this NIT-bound bunch, and I just can't do that anymore. They lack leadership, skill, and most importantly, smarts. I don't see how things are going to improve next year either, unless this McCamey kid is the second coming of Bruce Douglas.

In other sad news today, former Cards GM Bing Devine, who was the architect of the Cards '60s dynasty, passed on at the age of 90. Cubs fans will remember him as the mastermind of the Brock-for-Broglio deal. I was lucky enough to work with him on his memoir (titled Stealing Lou Brock) three years ago, and got to meet him. Incredibly nice guy.

I'll end on a bright note. The first book I have acquired hits the shelves this week. If you're a fan of baseball, the Negro Leagues, and history in general, it's worth a read.


10 random thoughts prior to having my picture taken

1) It's win or go home for the Illini tonight. Lots of reason to hate Coach Sanctions and IU, but tonight it needs to be about the W and not Eric Gordon. If we don't win tonight, I don't think we make the NCAA Tourney.

2) I realized yesterday that my driver's license expired in August, and I didn't renew it. Oops. So today I'm taking care of that little mistake, and getting my picture updated. For the first time, I'll have a piece of plastic in my wallet that has a photo of me on it with a beard, which seems odd since I've had a beard for what seems like forever. In reality, forever is just two years.

3) At work, I'm considering doing a book on an African-turned-American long distance runner who just happens to be an Olympian. That, and a book about the slimey underbelly of college basketball recruiting. Oh, and a coffee table book on the history of sports in NYC.

4) So far, so good in keeping up my stamina at the other blog. Some of my posts are just silly, which I realize. But silly is part of who I am (although I wonder if I lost that part of me a few years ago and have only recently rediscovered it).

5) The Cardinals resigned Mark Mulder. Barf.

6) The Records Room has been successfully remodeled. For those of you who weren't at M's b-day party, maybe I'll post a picture later. I'm happy with how it turned out. Quite functional. Quite comfortable. Quite to my style.

7) I've been toying recently with the idea of taking a class in Photoshop. It's been a long time since I've used Photoshop on a regular basis, and while I can do some things, there are plenty of other tricks I'd like to learn. I'm basically self taught, and I'd like to become proficient in it so that I can tack that on to my resume. Also, I'd like to improve at Quark while I'm at it.

8) Question for the sports fans out there: If you could have a lovely calendar hanging on your wall featuring legends from your favorite team (say a Cubs calendar featuring Ron Santo and Andre Dawson and Fergie Jenkins and Ernie Banks and Hack Wilson), would that interest you? Would you plop down $12 on that sort of wall art for the office?

9) I've been so utterly depressed from reading about the continued deterioration of the Middle East situation on CNN and Salon that I've sworn off reading the two sites during the work day. Too hard to concentrate on my work.

10) My office situation sucks. I work in a loft space, and my particular office has walls but no ceiling or doors. If I have my music on at the slightest volume, then everyone in the loft (even those 50 feet away) can hear what I'm listening to. I don't care about that, but they do. So I've had to bring in my monstrous over-the-ear headphones to both block out their noise and contain my own. I really miss my old office, with a window and a door and a ceiling. Oh, the little things...


For a good time...

...on the night of Wednesday, January 10, call Brian Randle.

(At the game I couldn't tell that he had pounded his forehead on the backboard on that dunk. That was insane!)




That was a pathetic performance and complete collapse against an incredible team.

It's easy to look at the obvious lack of athleticisim and talent we ran out on the court compared to a team like Ohio State. We can talk about inferior recruiting all we want. But what I'm concerned with is Bruce Weber's inability to get his team to execute on offense, and to place them in a position to succeed. You've got use the tools you have. Weber's motion offense worked wonderfully when Deron Williams and Luther Head and Dee Brown and Roger Powell were on the floor for the Orange & Blue. But without them, it's a rather week strategy, don't you think? Against superior athletes, the Illini can not get open looks, whether running around screens or with ball in hand. Basketball is all about taking high-percentage shots, and this Illini team is simply not getting many. Weber needs to add more wrinkles and set plays. There's no reason why Smith, Carter, and Pruitt shouldn't take a collective 35-40 shots per game. It's Weber's job to create enough opportunities for them to accomplish that goal.

Other than that, I blame Weber -- who looks as if he's losing his team -- for not finding a way to challenge this team to rally against adversity. To fire the team up -- in game, in the huddle, on the sidelines. Make them the aggressor they are not. The fact that we don't get to the line very often and settle for too many contested threes will just continue to punish this team as the season wears on.

The 2007 Illini are an effective defensive squad. Even with Ohio State's intense offensive surge in the first half, the Buckeyes still finished the game shooting just 31 percent on threes and 34 percent from the floor. Great offensive teams will go through hot stretches, and that hot stretch essentially won the game for Ohio State, because we folded after it. But I can't fault the defense for the breakdown. It happens. However, offensively we took more bad shots in one game than we've taken in the previous five combined. We looked lost, without a game plan and without a leader.

It's easy to say, "Man, we should've nabbed Thad Matta as our coach when we had the chance." But that's not the hand we've been dealt. I'm okay with Weber as coach, as long as HE starts making some adjustments and finds a way to get his team to respond to a true challenge.

My two cents.

/end rant

I was dead-on in my guess of a 12-3 pre-conference mark. So far, my 9-7 guess for their Big Ten record may be a bit optimistic. Hope I'm wrong.


New Year's resolution

Same as some of you ... blog more. Longer posts will occasionally pop up here, but shorter, daily, less serious and often musical posts have a new home.