Loren Tate chat: 1 p.m. Monday

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 1:00pm

Chit-chat with legendary News-Gazette columnist and WDWS personality Loren Tate

pat from chicago, il — 12:59 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

hi loren, from what i understand the reason head/griffey/bertrand do not play is because they dont show it in practice.

my question is - do the seniors show it in practice all the time? my guess based on 3.5 years of games is that they are just as inconsistent in practice as games.

therefore isn't a double standard by the coaching staff to say practice time earns you game minutes - if everyone is inconsistent in practice?

i am a bruce fan. at this point i dont think he can change the lineup - but just wanted your thoughts.

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:02 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Pat, we don't see practice. It is only occasionally open. But I don't have a problem with Weber's lineup. They are the same ones I would be playing, so how can I complain? Tisdale has been far ahead of Leonard, but can't seem to produce in the games anymore. Head didn't play last year, is a weak shooter from the perimeter and makes too many turnovers. Griffey appears to be on a Semrau line, just not good enough. Nor is Bertrand as good as Paul and Richardson, and that's who he is competing against for playing time. Loren

Old School Coach Wins from Karl Malone tells the truth, Utah — 01:02 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Top of the morning Greats: Karl Malone Saturday said that the Jerry Sloan he knows would not have backed down and quit.He said Utah built the floor like old school,uniforms made for old school, and the dam players need to play like old school.4th all time winning coach.Article said 99 percent of Utah base were for Sloan. Question:Leave his age out of the equation. That is 2011 politically correct cop out. Should star players hold NBA owners,players,fans hostage to my way or the highway attitude?Shame on Darren!

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:04 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Old School, what you're suggesting is that star players and coaches aren't supposed to debate and discuss the scheme. I just think Sloan was tired, sees how great promise for the future and figured his time was up. Maybe he felt he was losing control. All good things come to an end. Loren

Old School Coach Wins from Karl Malone tells the truth, Utah — 01:04 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Top of the morning Greats: Karl Malone Saturday said that the Jerry Sloan he knows would not have backed down and quit.He said Utah built the floor like old school,uniforms made for old school, and the dam players need to play like old school.4th all time winning coach.Article said 99 percent of Utah base were for Sloan. Question:Leave his age out of the equation. That is 2011 politically correct cop out. Should star players hold NBA owners,players,fans hostage to my way or the highway attitude?Shame on Darren!

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:04 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011


Ian from Itasca, IL — 01:05 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011


I am not 12 years old, I don't live in a mental institution, and I'm not a Hoosier fan. Furthermore, I am an IFUND donor and am an alum of the U of I. My concerns about the basketball program under Weber are real and legitimate. I can't help it if you want to turn a blinds-eye on the results over the last 5 years.

My question is simple. About 2 months ago, you wrote that Guenther would have a real decision regarding Ron Zook because Paul Petrino might leave. It was your opinion that Petrino should be elevated to head coach. Fine.

Where is a similar piece about Jerrance Howard and Bruce Weber? Petrino and Howard have never been head coaches and both have had a significant impact on making their bosses look much better than they are. How can you say it's ok for Petrino to become an Illini head coach but not Howard?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:10 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Ian, I did not conclude that Petrino should be promoted to head coach. At no time did I say that. What I said was that the situation would require some heavy thinking, and it would be a shame to losing the most valuable member of the offensive think tank.
Jerrance Howard appears to be a good recruiter but you, like many others, are overlooking the recent job Weber has done in lining up Richmond, Paul and others on this squad. It's OK with me if you want to believe otherwise, but you are wrong.
Howard is not ready to be the head coach at the University of Illinois. Let's see what happens at Bradley if Jim Les is let go.
By the way, just because you say you aren't 12 and aren't in a mental institution, how can I be sure. Why not provide a name, a picture, your place of residence and your job ... like I do. Loren

larry harnly from springfield, illinois — 01:10 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

I quote you from last week: "It all goes back to recruiting the best players." Who do you think are the 5 best players Bruce Weber has signed in his first 7 classes, including the current frosh? I know it is hard to tell on current frosh Head and Leonard because they have not played much. What letter grade would you give Weber for those 7 classes?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:13 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Larry, His letter grade for the first several years would be poor. I think it is a solid B for the two young classes and the one coming in. Weber deserves credit for picking off Davis when he was going to prep school, and for bringing McCamey aboard. But let's get one thing straight. Neither we nor the coaches nor anybody else knows what to expect from players until you see them on the court, until you see how they react to school and changing conditions. Remember Alex Legion. That should be our battle cry. He and Jamar Smith were the best players on the team a few springs ago. Loren

Bill from San Jose, CA — 01:13 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Loren, Do you have any idea why Head, after not playing up to that point, was put into the game yesterday with just 2 minutes to go?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:14 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

BIll, the game was "over" so the coach put Head in to see what he might do. And you got a quick look at his shooting style. What did you think? Loren

Lyn from Decatur, IL — 01:14 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Just wondering why, if a new starting lineup produced positive results in Minnesota, that same starting lineup was not used at home against Purdue.

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:16 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Lyn, in my opinion, the starting lineup had nothing to do with what happened at Minnesota. You have every right to believe otherwise. I am puzzled. What is it about the starting lineup that makes anyone think it has to do with anything? Loren

Caustiously Optimistic from Monticello, IL — 01:16 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011


I know you are tired of the same questions about firing weber and Dmac's performances, and I know you feel this team is just not that talented. How do you feel about next year's class? Is there enough talent between this years frosh and next years in coming freshmen to have a raw talented team next year and be a serious threat the follwing season?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:18 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Cautiously, I hereby refuse, after all these years, to judge a freshman class until I can see them actually play and compete at this level. It looks like a pretty good class. It looks like Egwu, Henry and Abrams should be in the rotation, and perhaps Shaw as well if he can beat out Griffey. As for being a threat, that depends on how they progress and whether other teams get better players. Ohio State is bringing in a better class but, again, let's wait until we see them play. Loren

Carol from Champaign, IL — 01:19 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Mr. Tate,
With your encyclopedic knowledge, perhaps you know the reason basketball teams do not switch benches at the half like volleyball teams. I realize there is a net for v-ball and they probably do that to make it easier for the players to get on and off the court, but the Illini basketball team would probably benefit by such a change.

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:24 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Carol, let's get one thing straight. I forget more and more every day. Only trouble with this chat is that I don't have time to look anything up.
Ever though they change baskets at half,
basketball has never changed seating for the coaches. That is because the wind affects play on the court, and not on the benches (THAT IS A JOKE). Sorry, my mind works in odd ways. Loren

Bill from Orland Park, IL — 01:24 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

You always seem to blame the Illini's lack of success in recent years on recruiting and that's probably fair. Am I crazy or is recruiting also Weber's responsibility? The guy makes 1.5 million dollars a year and Illinois has not won an NCAA tournament game since 2006. Should Illinois give every coach a decade before there is any threat of them getting fired? You do understand that this is not Bradley, the expectations should be higher and making the NCAA tournament should rarely if ever be in question.
Between Zook, Law and Weber, I don't see any accountability in the athletic program. Why don't you write about that?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:27 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Bill, I have repeated time after time that Weber is responsible for recruiting, and that the recruiting failed in his early years. What more can I say. OK, everybody, listen up.
Weber is responsible for recruiting. Weber did a poor job of recruiting.
What we're seeing now is those failures coming to roost.
I've already said enough about Zook, and I was as amazed as everyone else when Law received an extension when it appeared she had one of the bottom programs in the Big Ten. Loren

Tim from Chicago, IL — 01:27 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Loren, You always seem to qualify the overall poor performance of the football program by stating the obvious disadvantages the program has in relation to Big Ten competition (ie recruiting, smaller stadium, historical success ect). Illinois has just as many advantages in basketball that they have disadvantages in football(they are a top 15 basketball program historically). Wouldn't it make sense to hold the basketball program to higher standards because frankly they have a lot less excuses than football?
Why don't you apply the same logic to the basketball program that you do to the football program?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:33 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

TIm, I think Illinois is essentially a "basketball school" because it has advantages that aren't there in football. Illinois has the second-worst football record in the Big Ten over the last 10 years.
The time to get upset about basketball was several years ago when the recruiting slipped. We have no choice now but to take a deep breath and ride through this difficult period. If your solution is to fire the coach, that is your prerogative. Mine is to watch and see if the improved recruiting will help Weber get the basketball team back on solid ground in the coming years. By the way, they're just a few weeks from being in the Top 25, and they're still .500 in the conference. Now is not the time to give up. Loren

Chris from Champaign, IL — 01:33 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Where do the Illini rank in the Big Ten for these categories; athletic budget and fundraising?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:35 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Chris, I'd have to look it up, but it's down in both categories. The athletic budget is more than half of Ohio State's $100 million. I can't recall whether it has hit $60 million yet, but it's in that area. Loren

Bruce P from Covington, Indiana — 01:36 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

What has happened to Tyler Griffey?
is he hurt, sick, or just not getting it done in practice? He sure doesn't see any court time these days.

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:37 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Bruce, why does an athlete who has never been productive need to be hurt, sick or injured to continue to play at a mediocre level? I asked Klee and he said, "Tyler isn't good enough ... right now." That's what I would have said, but I'd prefer that you blame Klee. Loren

Tom Casteel from Chatham, ILL — 01:38 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Why has Weber been so reluctant to go deeper into the bench? When Cole and Tisdale, and McCamey too, are not producing positive results.....like yesterday.....why do we never give Griffey, Bertrand, and Head opportunities to contribute? (especially against a team where the "athleticism" factor is clearly a problem) It seems like Bruce just keeps throwing the same combinations of players out there over and over again......even when they are playing poorly!

Fed Up from Springfield, IL — 01:39 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

After one game of "shaking up the lineup" Weber went back to the same old thing. Why? Also, why put Crandall Head in the game with 2 minutes left? He had to be ice cold from sitting on the bench.

Lastly, did Weber ever try to recruit either Lewis Jackson or Ravonte Rice? It would be nice to have a true point guard.

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:42 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Fed Up, did you notice how many players Thad Matta used at Wisconsin? He played almost the same lineup from end to end, with two guys playing 40. Weber is doing the same thing. He is playing the best players and trying to win.
I didn't get an explanation for Head other than the fact he is quick and might get a steal.
Weber knew everything about Jackson and Rice. There were issues relative to Jackson that slowed him down, and Purdue jumped in. Loren

Marty Hinton from Pinehurst, NC — 01:42 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

I am getting a bit tired of the "blame" game & the "fans" thinking our coaching isn't "good enough". Let's review, recruiting mistakes are a legit complaint for 2006 & 2008. Gambles on waiting for "high-profile" players didn't work. The current senior class is "who they have always been. Jump shooters that lack physicality and a vocal leader. Deep breath here. Let's remember that we will have, next fall, three back to back to back top 25 recruiting classes on campus. If you want to harp on past recruiting, okay. On coaching ability, not okay. My question for you, Loren, when did the Big Ten change from a fast pace "shooter's" league [Hurrying Hoosiers, Harry Combes, Rick Mount, Fred Brown, etc.] into a "physical, defense first" league? Also, when was the last time a team won the Big Ten title without a "physical" frontcout player?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:46 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Marty, this is speculation but I think, more than anything, the arrival of Bob Knight with that suffocating, fouling out-front defense spearheaded by Buckner and Wilkerson ate people alive, and changed the way teams had to play, and Keady and Henson came along at the same time with the same philosophy. Maybe it was changing before Knight, but he forced everyone to play better defense.
I can't imagine a championship team in the Big Ten without a physical frontcourt player. Loren

Illini02 from central Illnois, IL — 01:47 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Dear Loren - I think you are doing a fantastic job as is Coach Guenther and Coach Weber! I can't believe all these people that want to fire Coach Weber (who took us to the national championship!) and Coach Guenther (who keeps us in the black and never had any probation). I suspect they are Chicago win or go home elitists. Do these faceless internet creeps ever approach you in real life?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:48 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Illini02, OK, I get your point. But I live in two different worlds. One world is constant criticism by unknowns, and the other is quality give-and-take with people in my presence.
I have never been approached by a faceless Internet creep because nobody acts in real life like they do in secret. Loren

Looking for Answers from Any Town, Illinois — 01:49 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

I have a new theory about who to blame for the Illini's troubles. I think we should blame the Board of Trustees. It seems that since they got rid of THE CHIEF many things have gone downhill. Most of the major sports teams have been worse, the admissions scandal, the crimes on campus, etc. Your thoughts.

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:50 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Looking, you can't blame the trustees because they're new. It's just an opinion, but I think you should blame me. I've been here through it all. It's my fault. I'd appreciate it if you'd spread that around. I'm sure the idea would gain support.

Kay from Tuscola, IL — 01:50 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011


I know the Cardinals probably have a better chance of signing Pujols than you answering this question, but in the last 6 years the DIA has went from a waiting list for basketball tickets to not being able to fill the hall up. Surely the loss of revenue is hurting in budget times like this. So who is responsible, Weber or Guenther for the loss of revenue?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:52 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Kay, all the tickets for Sunday's game with Purdue were sold. It just happens that a lot of students don't show up. I asked Kent Brown, and he said they sold around 3,000 season tickets to students. If you looked anywhere but the student area, virtally every seat was taken. So there was no loss of revenue, although the DIA could make more money by limiting student sales and opening those seats to the public. Loren

Robert from Chicago, IL — 01:52 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Hey Loren,

I think its becoming clear that this is a fractured team that no longer believes in each other and of course has tuned out the coaching staff as well.. Have you noticed the divide in the team where the young players struggle to fit in with the seniors?? Just like Klee stated it seems that there are 2 "different" teams out there, with only Mike Davis having a good rhythm with the underclassmen.. By the way can you mention to coach Weber that there is a such a thing as being too HONEST and it doesn't hurt to sugarcoat things at times.. this team has enough problems no need to bring up negative 3rd party influences after a big road win IMO..

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:55 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Robert, I'm in the media. I have no objection to anything Weber says. If I was a fan, it might be different.
By being honest, and speaking out, Weber makes it possible for people to misinterpret what he's saying, or taking something out of context. When he talked about negative third-party influences, he was discussing something that he deals with all the time around the clock. It is a part of the business. Loren

Jon Hein from New York City, NY — 01:55 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Loren - Do you see next year's team having a better season than this year's squad? We will have no true point guard, a very raw center in Meyer's Leonard, and a team full of guys who have never seen the court (minus Paul, Richardson, Richmond and Leonard). A weak Big Ten may save us though....

What are your thoughts?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 01:58 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Jon Hein, I don't think next year's team will be better, but it could finish higher because the Big Ten won't be nearly as good. Yet, as I say that, the bottom teams like Michigan and Indiana could be better, but not Penn State and Northwestern. I couldn't begin to guess where Michigan State will fall.
I think you and I are thinking along the same lines. But I'm looking forward to seeing how the young guys do, particularly Henry and Abrams. And I still have high hopes for Head, if he can improve his perimeter shot just a bit. Loren

tom from bloomington, IL — 01:59 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Loren, If the same criteria is used to evaluate Weber's program as was used with Henson shouldn't Weber be on the hot seat if we miss the NCAA or at latest next year? Bruce is 6 years removed from his Final Four run. Henson was "pushed out" by RG 7 years after his Final Four run in 89. Henson missed the NCAA 3 times since 89. Weber has missed twice. Both only have had one NCAA win since thier respective Final Four appearances. Are continued seasons like this acceptable to the powers that be? If so for how much longer?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 02:01 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Tom, I don't know what people mean by the "hot seat." Does that mean he should be fired? Or does it mean he is being evaluated.
I think Weber is in an evaluation period and still have time in the coming years to turn this around.
Henson situation was based on age and sagging recruiting. Weber is younger and has recruiting arrows pointing up.
I don't think Weber can survive forever with mediocre teams, but he still has some rope. His contract turns through 2015. Loren

Cleveland Peete from Champaign, IL — 02:01 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Loren - The losses and excuses are piling up for Bruce Weber. Last week he blames "outside influences" for affecting DMac's play. Isn't this something that every coach in America deals with? Isn't it time that he put some of the blame on himself for this team underachieving?

Loren Tate (moderator) — 02:03 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Cleveland, you're doing what so many others are doing, misunderstanding what was said. Weber's comment about "outside influences" refers to something he deals with all the time, and particularly when an Illini player becomes an NBA prospect. He didn't say that was pulling McCamey down. He was simply saying that it exists, always has and always will.
Weber blames himself after every loss. What more do you want him to do? Loren

mark from Champaign, IL — 02:03 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

You know Knight hasnt been in the league for what? Ten years and yet you still seem to go out of your way to bash him. I know you think that he threw Coach Henson under the bus at the Senior Day at Indiana when Coach Hensons wife began to yell, but just get over it. Those two seem to have.

Loren Tate (moderator) — 02:05 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Mark, believe me, I don't have to go out of the way to bash Knight. He has done it to himself, many, many times.
As for the Senior Day, I don't have any recollection of what you're talking about. Sorry, I obviously wasn't present. What happened? Loren

JLo from Washington, IL — 02:05 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

Barring any end of season tournaments, what is Bruce Weber's record in the last 10 games of each season with Illinois? Isn't that important to the selection committee? If Paul has led in Matto points all year, and we win games when we win Matto then by rights shouldn't he have been a starter? He should be commended and rewarded for his on court patience and attitude!

Loren Tate (moderator) — 02:08 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

JLo, I'm told the last 10 games don't matter to the committee as much as they used to. But I'm sure late-season games are important.
Paul was very mistake-prone early, took a lot of bad shots and generally had as many negatives as positives. Gradually, after a year and a half of that, he has begun to improve and take advantage of his basketball gifts. It was interesting though, to hear Painter shouting, "Get on him, he can't dribble," because that was the book on Paul up to midseason. Paul didn't deserve to start early, it's that simple. Loren

Danny townsend from Atlanta, GA — 02:08 PM on Mon, 02/14/2011

How long do you give coaches when they lost the team ?