Thursday, August 31, 2006

Temkin: Don't Panic

Barry Temkin's "Upon Further Review" blog takes the view from 20,000 feet on Illinois hoops recruiting. He sure makes some interesting points.

I found this section particularly interesting:

Kruger whiffed altogether in the Chicago Public League. Young’s Quentin Richardson, for instance, fled to DePaul, and Farragut’s Michael Wright chose Arizona, helping to pin the "he can coach but he can’t recruit" tag on Kruger. Corey Maggette of suburban Fenwick, meanwhile, took Duke.

Not sure I'd be able to argue that any of those guys ended up being a superstar.

Then he makes the point that Kruger didn't deserve the "he can coach but he can't recruit" label since he brought us Frank Williams, Brian Cook and Sergio McClain.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is the Chief Gone? No One Told Us.

Here is Tupper's blog today. Note the end:

I hope Eastern has a good fan contingent there, and I expect it will. And just a reminder, but this begins Chief Illiniwek’s Farewell Tour through football. Plans are that the Chief will do his normal halftime dance at all seven home football games, then do the same at halftime of home basketball games. He already has appeared at home volleyball.

Then that’s it. The Board of Trustees is working on a plan for the Chief’s retirement and those details will be announced at some time this school year.

So when did this happen? We did a google search on it and found nothing. When did the Board of Trustees decide this is it for the Chief?


A Tale of Two Newspapers

Someone must've put Tabasco Sauce in Michael O'Brien's Cheerios.

O'Brien works for the Chicago Sun-Times and this story appears with his byline today (I really hope this is a column because it already contains enough opinion and factual inaccuracies to qualify for the William Randolph Heart Excellence in Yellow Journalism Award.)

I could shoot holes in this thing all day long but here are the two key parts:

This might come as a surprise to Illini fans, but shoe companies don't mean anything. It's much more significant that all five coaches -- Jerry Wainwright, Kelvin Sampson, Bill Self, John Calipari and Ben Howland -- have close relationships with Reebok's Sonny Vaccaro.

The key to this paragraph is: Who is Sonny Vaccaro? Well by golly, he works for Reebok, which is owned by Adidas, which is going to have a shoe contract with Mean Streets Express, which is the AAU team for which Derrick Rose plays, which is coached by his brother Reggie.

O'Brien says shoe companies don't mean anything but then says it's "significan" that the coaches have a good relationship with...a guy who works for a shoe company. Yeah. That makes sense.

Just remember all that as you read the following paragraph:

Rose has been startlingly independent when it comes to shoe companies. Simeon, his high school team, is sponsored by Nike. Meanstreets Express, his club team, is sponsored by Nike. The majority of club tournaments the team played in were Nike-sponsored. Rose attended the Reebok shoe camp and the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas. All five of his final schools are Adidas schools. Adidas owns Reebok.

O'Brien leaves out the Adidas tie to Meanstreets as well as the other ties in the rest of his column to make his pathetic point that this has nothing to do with shoes.

He's probably actually right. It really has to do with money.

Contrast all this with the Tribune's Rick Morrissey and this column.

Simeon's Derrick Rose is considered one of the best high school basketball players in the country, and his recruitment has been covered as if it were the City Hall beat. The latest story line has to do with the allegation that an outside force is shaping his decisions.

The outside force would be a shoe company.


Everybody involved denies the charges, and you would, too, it's so embarrassing. A 17-year-old kid being manipulated by money-hungry adults would not be one of your more heartwarming stories.

Then again, the entire job description of the sewer rats who work for the shoe companies is to influence young players. They're the men looking to tie up players in the hope they'll turn into superstars some day. And then those superstars will be able to sell another generation of impressionable youth on the importance of $200 shoes.

Understand that, at heart, this isn't about Rose. There may be no basis for the Rose-Adidas shenanigans story, but it really doesn't matter. What matters is that we've been around long enough to not even blink at the possibility it's true. A star high school player the object of affection of the $2.5 billion-a-year basketball shoe industry? Sounds about right.


At some point, there is going to be a reckoning. Whether that reckoning will be selfish, unwatchable sports or an increased suicide rate among young athletes, who can say? But with all that pressure, something has to give. The market has to correct itself.

When it becomes very important what basketball shoe a high school player wears, we're all in trouble. I wonder if we even know it.

Well said Rick.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today's News

Eric Gordon (for the 3,492,986,209th time) reaffirms his committment to play basketball at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Hear that Indiana fans?

Chicago Sun-Times: Rose's college picks spark a shoe debate Whoa!!! Blow me over! Someone actually decided to dig a little deeper and report the story behind the story of Derrick Rose's recruitment.

Which leads to this.....

Washington Post: NCAA, NBA Could Team on Amateur Reform Whoa!!! Double whammy! The same day the Sun-Times blows the lid off the college basketball world's worst kept secret, the NCAA says it may take action to keep this ugly recruiting from happening.

Now, whether the NCAA can get rid of the Chief and take care of this business of shoe companies playing a part in college recruiting remains to be seen. My guess is they can't walk and chew gum at the same time.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Derrick Rose Recruitment: Do You Wear Adidas?

There was a Chicago Sun-Times article yesterday that is of considerable interest to Illini fans regarding Derrick Rose's recruitment. Basically, he lists his final five schools and Illinois isn't on the list.

At face value, this may feed into the "Bruce Weber can't recruit" mantra. However, as usual there is more to this than meets the eye. Unfortunately some folks who write about sports for a living (like this guy and this guy) sometimes get lazy and decide not to dig a little deeper and report the whole story. Steve Tucker, are you reading this?

Here is the skinny: Rose's brother Reggie gave Tucker his list of schools, which include (in alphabetical order): DePaul, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis and UCLA.

Anyone who is anyone knows that Reggie Rose is the coach of Derrick Rose's AAU team, Mean Streets Express. But upon further investigation, Mean Street Express is changing its shoe contract from Nike to Adidas.

Now, if you look at the final five schools that Reggie Rose mentioned (including the unofficial visits to Marquette and Notre Dame) they are ALL Adidas schools.

And, just to tie it together, which athletic company has a contract with the Fighting Illini? If you guessed not Adidas you are a genius. It's Nike.

If you think all this is merely coincidence, I have a nice condo overlooking the Pacific in Arizona to sell you.

And just to further the argument, where were North Caroline, Duke etc. during this recruitment? (I caution you to check who their shoe contracts were with before you answer that question.)

Finally, is this what recruiting in college hoops has come to? If so, I'm not sure I like it.

Of course, hoping the NCAA will try and put a stop to it is wishful thinking. I wouldn't trust them to draw me a picture, let alone figure out a way to keep the athletic apparel companies from playing a part in this. They're too busy trying to figure out how to get rid of the Chief.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Quarterbacks plus the latest on EJ (Gordon)

Not much time to write today but I did want to provide links to a few articles that might be of interest to Illini fans.

Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune did a profile of Illinois starting quarterback Tim Brasic. Today, Illinisports previews all of the current Illinois quarterbacks on the roster. For previews of other positions as well as related articles, click here and search using the word Illinisports.

Finally, on the basketball front, here is the latest on the recruitment of EJ (i.e. Eric Gordon, one of the top 5 players in the country, for those of you who don't follow basketball recruiting) as reported on the Indianapolis Star's blog. In summary, the good news is that Gordon remains committed to Illinois and will make a statement about this once and for all sometime in the next few weeks.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Derrick Rose plus an Illini Football Preview Article

Sorry we haven't posted for a while. Not a lot to write about during the so called dog days of August. For those of you who have been wondering, there has not been any big news on the Derrick Rose front. However, it does appear that his decision is going to drag on past August despite earlier pronouncements by his brother Reggie, that they would decide by the end of August and/or before Derrick starts his senior year of school. Reggie also claimed recently that they haven't even narrowed the schools down to a top five yet. While I find that hard to believe, I think it is an indication that this process is going to drag on for a while, especially if Derrick plans to take five official visits.

No need to worry about it as worrying won't change the situation. Just focus on the upcoming football season and the basketball letter of intent signing day in November will be here before you know it. Speaking of football, the Chicago Tribune has been running a series previewing each of the Big Ten schools. Illinois' preview ran yesterday and you can read it here. Finally, if you really need a basketball fix, here is the Tribune's article on the Illini's 2006-2007 schedule.

Until later, GO ILLINI!


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