Misinterpreted Fighting Illini basketball promotion exudes family values (photo)

fighting-illini-basketball

It’s been a great week and change for Illinois Fighting Illini basketball. They beat the #1 Indiana Hoosiers, then the #18 Minnesota Golden Gophers at their place. Then they finally ended their 8 game losing streak to Purdue, trouncing them by 20. I don’t have the facts and figures, but I bet the winning streak was good for their ticketing office. So things were going great for their marketing…

…until this happened.

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Illini basketball introduces John Groce: I hope reality is inverse of press conference

john_groce

You’ve heard the expression “win the news conference.” Well, for the University of Illinois and the Illini basketball coaching hire of John Groce, that ship sailed weeks ago. Any time you get your sixth (possibly seventh) choice in a men’s basketball coach at a basketball school, your news conference is…well, you just hope there’s no pitchforks and flaming torches.

Most news conferences are exactly like they’re portrayed in the “Batman” movies.

The officials up there telling you they’re saving the city are the ones who are actually destroying it. What you hear aren’t really facts; just lip service, platitudes, tautologies and some plain ol’ lies. Because a news conference is nothing more than a grander, living, breathing, audiovisual version of a press release. And a press release is nothing but a propaganda document. The quotes in it aren’t even real. Those are lies too. Lots of people like to make jokes about lawyers, but the actual profession of lying is truly Public Relations. Or as they call it in PC terms “spin.”

And regarding yesterday’s Assembly Hall press conference that’s a good thing! Not a bad thing. I hope they were lying.

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Your next Illini basketball coach: Ohio’s John Groce

john-groce_ohio

It’s not official yet, but it’s looking very likely that Illini Nation will have to settle for their sixth choice in a head coaching candidate, a man with a 34-30 career record in the MAC.

Ohio Bobcats coach John Groce could be introduced as Bruce Weber’s successor in the next couple days. And he’s not a terrible hire, it just means that this basketball hiring process has been a complete failure up to this point.

I know that seems contradictory: hiring a decent candidate, when process is fiasco. Let me explain: Croce brings steak, but no sizzle. And maybe the Illini need that meat and potatoes right now over flash. The U.S.S. PR splash hire has sunk big time.

Before this process began, Seth Davis of CBS described the Illini job as “top ten nationally.” Consensus was top 15-20. Today, after getting rejected by two mid-major coaches, and a couple more with mediocre at best credentials, it barely looks top 50.

Here’s why, and also why Groce would actually be a great fit to fix the mess.

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Top Illini head coaching candidates: non Shaka Smart variety

buzz-williams-marquette

Well, I didn’t see that one coming. Shaka Smart had an offer of $2.5 million plus, doubling his salary, and a chance at a top 20 national job in what was the nation’s best conference this year. And he had a chance to step up from mid-major to high-major in the Big Ten. I’ve been to Richmond, Virginia a couple times so I can tell you- this denial was shocking.

The only way the decision to stay at VCU could be interpreted as a smart one is if Smart wants to be a Ram for life (and life means a decade or so) like Brad Stevens at Butler, or he’s holding out for the UConn and UCLA jobs; and now only one of those jobs looks to be open next year.  high percentage of Illini nation is hard right-wing politically. They won’t like a coach spurning them to stay at Virginia Commonwealth. “Sounds like a socialist commune!” they’ll say.

Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas had a plan: option 1 was Shaka Smart, option 2-11 was Smart.

Now it’s time to move on to option 12.

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Tom Izzo Angry About Illinois Firing Bruce Weber (audio)

Tom-Izzo

Tom Izzo had strong words for  University of Illinois’ Athletic Director Mike Thomas, who earlier today announced that Bruce Weber would no longer be the coach of the Fighting Illini.

Speaking as not only a close friend with Bruce Weber, but also as the president of the coaches association, Izzo was not at all happy with what precedent Thomas’ move may set for the coaching profession.

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Illini Basketball Weaknesses: Zones, Neutral Courts, and Complacency

bruce weber demetri mccamey

It’s certainly nice that Illini basketball has started 2-0 in Big Ten play. It’s a lot better than  0-2.

Their win yesterday over Wisconsin was just the second time they’ve beaten a ranked opponent in ’10-’11. (Gonzaga, exactly like the Badgers, were ranked #24 in the coaches poll, receiving votes in the AP). It was a good win, and the Illini do have a couple decent wins this season, but their overall body of college basketball work has still revealed three red flags which could lead to big trouble.

One issue is internal, the other a natural part of the game and the third a strategy their opponents may choose to implement against them.

By Paul M. Banks

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Kendall Gill on McCamey, Deron, Richmond and all Things Illini

kendall gill illinois

Everyone here knows Kendall Cedric Gill, retired NBA player, now professional boxer and analyst for Comcast Sports Net and the Big Ten Network.

The ex-Chicago Bulls player and current Bulls expert for CSN starred at suburban Rich South before taking his talents to Champaign-Urbana for the “Flyin’ Illini” of the late 80s, earning a Final Four berth in 1989. He’s quintessentially Chicago basketball through and through.

I had an exclusive with Gill this off-season. For part one on Bulls insights go here. For part two, discussing the 2010-11 Fighting Illini go here. Welcome to part three, discussing the past, present and future Illini

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Kendall Gill Optimistic About his Alma Mater (Illini) Chances

kendall gill illinois

Everyone here knows Kendall Cedric Gill, retired NBA player, now professional boxer and analyst for Comcast Sports Net and the Big Ten Network.

The ex-Chicago Bulls player and current Bulls expert for CSN starred at suburban Rich South before taking his talents to Champaign-Urbana for the “Flyin’ Illini” of the late 80s, earning a Final Four berth in 1989. He’s quintessentially Chicago basketball through and through.

I had an exclusive with Gill this off-season. For part one on Bulls insights go here.

Welcome to part two, discussing the 2010-11 Fighting Illini.

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At Illini Madness, Joseph Bertrand Displays Regained Athleticism

illinois

In the grand scheme of things, does Midnight Madness mean anything? Probably not.

It is a marketing ploy to get students excited about the basketball season by allowing the players to show off absurd moves and dunks that likely have no place in a formal Bruce Weber practice.

For example, D.J. Richardson tried to teach Huff Hall how to dougie at Illinois‘ Midnight Madness Friday night.

But Illinois fans did get a pleasant surprise at Midnight Madness in the form of redshirt freshman Joseph Bertrand, who  won the knockout and slam dunk contests. While the contests were mostly a dog and pony show, Bertrand – who sat out all of last year with a torn lateral meniscus – flashed the athleticism that helped him win two IHSA Class 3A slam dunk championships as a junior and senior at Sterling high school.

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When Young Jordans Go To Vegas, It Doesn’t Stay in Vegas

At some point, you would think their father would educate them in the ways of how to deal with the media. Hasn’t happened yet.

Michael Jordan’s sons, Jeffrey (a former University of Illinois basketball player) and Marcus, are proving to perhaps be a little bit more of the spoiled, legacy children than any of us thought after spending a few wild days in Las Vegas, accompanying their father to his fantasy camp there. [Read more…]

Illinois’ Jeff Jordan Problem Didn’t End With His Transfer

jeff jordan

When young Jeffrey Jordan decided to transfer from the University of Illinois, it seemed as though that was the end of the strange saga of the oldest son of the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan.

Not even close. Not even close by a damn sight. [Read more…]

Jeffrey Jordan to Transfer From Illinois

With his decision to transfer from the University of Illinois, the enigma that is the oldest offspring of one Michael Jeffrey Jordan continues to evolve.

The junior, who is entering his last year of eligibility for college basketball has two choices — ending his collegiate basketball career or transferring to a Division II or III school where he can play immediately (Division I would require Jordan to sit out one season and lose a year of eligibility which would end his career). [Read more…]