Loren Tate chat: 11:30 a.m. Monday

Loren Tate chat: 11:30 a.m. Monday

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 11:30am

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

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Good morning, since I'm not doing the Monday morning radio show for the next couple of months, I'll start early ... although my mind is still wondering to the 9th inning of Sunday's Cardinal game. Was that just one loss? Loren

Doug from Mattoon, IL wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Illinois played Eastern in Mattoon last week. How was the crowd for that game? Do the Illini enjoy playing in that kind of venue?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Doug, I know Mattoon is a terrific baseball town, and I asked at the SIU game and was told the crowd was good ... but I don't know what that means in terms of numbers. Yes, I'm sure the Illini enjoyed playing in that venue, if not the result. Between shaky pitching and ridiculous base running, the team is 12-19 and going nowhere ... even though the eight players in the field comprise a decent team. Loren

Jim from Peoria, Illinois wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

You have exsprissed in the past that
your favorite basketball interviewee
was Bruce Douglas and that you like
football a lot more than basketball.
Why? Thanks.

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Jim, let me say first that, as a younger sports writer and the beat writer during the Douglas-Winters era, I had a closer relationship with the players. Douglas was the best ever at breaking down and explaining what happened during the game. He was extremely bright.
I like football because there is strategy to every play. That's why they huddle. It is a physical game and, for me, vastly more entertaining. I can think of many sports that I prefer over basketball, but it is my job to cover basketball so I do it. Loren

Dolph from springfield, Illinois wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Loren,

What Illinois football game are you most looking forward to this season? What is your favorite road trip in the big ten? least favorite?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Dolph, I don't have any favorite road trips. I go because that's where the games are, but I much prefer writing at home. The road games are much more difficult to write about, and the long drives home are no fun. If my longest trip was to Tuscola, that would be fine with me.
I always look forward to Ohio State but it is too often a disappointment ... and yet, the Illini always seem to play their best in that series, win or lose. Loren

Tom from Godfrey, Illinois wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

A lot of people (including Illinois professor/attorney Steve Beckett in an interview with Jim Turpin recently) have suggested Deon Thomas as an assistant coach. Do you think that Weber will seriously consider Deon Thomas the next time there is an opening on the coaching staff?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Tom, I love Beckett -- he is one of my favorites -- but I am always suspicious of the opinions of attorneys who favor individuals that they represented legally. Wouldn't you be?
Since Deon has never been a college coach beyond junior college, and since I know little of his coaching and recruiting qualities, I wouldn't venture a guess. But the last thing I'd do is hire a coach based on how he played. Loren

JelanieBoline from Bloomington, IL wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Stephen Bardo indicated that Billy Donovan was interviewed for the Illinois basketball job after Self left. Is this accurate, according to your knowledge?

I agree with your position that there was little reason to choose Thad Matta over Weber, based on what was known at the time. But I think most would have chosen Donovan over Weber.

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Jelanie, I can't imagine Donovan being interviewed for the UI job when Self left. I'd be shocked if that was true.
Where did you hear such a thing? Loren

Jake from Champaign, IL wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Hey Loren, appreciate the chats. Quick question regarding basketball. I know that Klee reported that Weber has said they are open to trying to fill the scholarship left by Richmond this offseason either with a late recruit or a transfer. I just saw that two major programs, Kansas and Pittsburgh, announced that a player would be transferring. Just wanted to know if you knew if we were looking at them at all. One was a freshman and one was a sophomore so they'd have a few years left of eligibility. Didn't do much at their schools but I figure they've got to be pretty talented to get a scholarship there. If not them, do you know of any other transfer possibilities that we're in on? Thanks.

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Jake, we all agree that it is a good idea to keep an open mind when you have an available scholarship. So Weber is looking into Kentucky and other places in case something turns up. At this point, I doubt that he'll use Richmond's scholarship for an additional player. But who knows what might turn up.
By the way, just because a player is recrited by Kansas or Pitt, that doesn't mean he is necessarily good. They have washouts too. Everybody does. Loren

IliniBob from Lemont, IL wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

I'm not asking if you think there should be a change in the basketball coaching staff before next season. But do you think there will be any changes?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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IlliniBob, I can't speak with any certainty about a change in the staff. Maybe it will and maybe it won't. In either case, it probably won't have much impact on next year's team. Loren

Alan from Southfield, Michigan wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Did any of Zook's recruits this year enroll this spring? I had read he signed 27 recruits which is two over the 25 limit so I wondered what they did to handle the issue.

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Alan, none of Zook's incoming freshmen enrolled this spring.
As for the number, at last report I heard that one of the linemen may not qualify. Meanwhile, we'll have to wait and see how the number reaches 25. Zook undoubtedly knows but he's not talking at this point. We'll count them when they get here, and maybe we can figure it out this summer. Loren

Marcus from Monument, Colorado wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Loren,

Thanks for your continued work.

You have covered Illini sports for a long, long time. What are your top 5 Illini sports memories?

Thanks

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Marcus, my all-time memories are the major issues of the time -- slush fund, Chief Illiniwek, the Deon Thomas case, the problems with Neale Stoner and Mike White. Continuing stories of that nature far outweigh the games. Loren

Dennis from McHenry, Illinois wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Read in more than one place that Guenther's return is 50/50. While I think a change is good, I think a place could be found for his fund raising abilities. I very much admire his loyalty to his school. If a change occurs, would we look inside our program for a successor, or conduct a national search? Thanks for your columns and chats.

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Dennis, it appears obvious that the UI would run a national search for a new director unless -- and I don't know if he would come -- Jim Phillips was willing to leave Northwestern.
There is one other possibility: President Hogan might have a particular person in mind.
But as this continues to be strung out, I see the odds increasing that Guenther will remain for a period beyond June 30. Based on what he said earlier, I expected to know something by now. But that's not the case. Loren

Chuck C from Bloomington, IL wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Hi Loren, its been a pleasure to read your columns over the years.

My question is ... do you know if 2012 #1 QB prospect Gunner Kiel of Columbus IN has visited campus? Just wondering how serious he is about signing with the Illini. Thanks.

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Chuck, Kiel is being "recruited" but is reportedly favoring Notre Dame and Alabama, and has apparently not visited the UI campus. The realistic Illini QB prospects are Cyler Miles of Denver, Wes Lunt of Rochester and Eric Williams of Cleveland. Loren

Scott from Chicago, Il wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

It looks to me as if whatever the improvement in the passing game, Zook has his mind made up to build this program as a run-first, smash mouth team. With a pretty good OL and Prosch, it will be fine if Ford loses some weight and stays in 1 piece. Has he?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Scott, since Petrino is running the operation, and since he is fitting his scheme to the talent available, Illinois is going to feature the running game because that's what Scheelhaase does best. Everybody wants to play smash-mouth football, but Petrino has shown in the past that he'll use the drop-back game if the quarterback is adept at it ... and the next QB, O'Toole, will probably lead Illinois in that direction when Scheelhaase is gone. By then, of course, Petrino will also be gone, so who knows? Loren

JE from Decatur, IL wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Do you agree? Until we get the top of the basketball class in Illinois in each year (i.e. top 4 or 5 guys in IL each year) we will never be back in the elite 8 or better?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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JE, maybe, but should I dare mention that Deron Williams was regarded the second-best player on his high school team, Roger Powell was a "tweener" who couldn't cut it at small forward, James Augustine was recruited because Self didn't get the center he wanted, Luther Head had all kinds of physical and personal problems before he caught fire.
The answer to your question is: Who knows? It is a crazy game. But this much I know: The UI will never get all the top players out of Illinois, and the history of recruiting beyond the state boundaries is the most dismal of all the major schools. Loren

HNL OGG from Kankakee, Illinois wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Coach Henson got to a point where he recruited the perceived elite players in the state (Efrem Winters, Lowell Hamilton, Marcus Liberty, etc.), but I never felt they improved as much over their collegiate career as much as we fans expected them to. I am wondering if some of the players that Coach Weber has recruited over the last three years may pan out similarly?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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HNL OFF, it is a physical impossibility for players to improve as much as the fans want and expect them to.
Individuals develop at different rates. Hamilton made tremendous strides from a non-rebounding, undersized center with zone background to a solid and efficient Big Ten center on a Final Four team.
All I can do is watch see how athletes develop. It's always a guess. I don't know when I've seen two "unknown" freshmen improve as much as Evan Wilson and Jay Prosch in football. It happens. Look how much better Mike Davis was this past season.
And it happens in reverse. Loren

Steve from Chicago, IL wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Thanks for the chat, Tate.

Sem-random question: What is your favorite/least favorite part about living in the CU area?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Steve, my favorite part of living here is that it that the college atmosphere and the overall atmosphere is a preferred place to raise three girls and a boy ... much preferred over the Calumet Region where I spent 11 years. This is a great community when plenty of things to enjoy, whether it is Krannert or the Assembly Hall or the various golf courses. And it is almost equidistant between Chicago and St. Louis. Loren

Erik B. from Columbus, IN wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Loren,
Looking at the loaded backcourt next year, how does a player like Jamar Smith fit into the rotation? Also, has there been any word of the recruiting of Anthony Davis?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Erik, loaded with mediocrity is bad. Loaded with talent is good. Which is this?
A guy who can shoot like Jamar Smith can always find a place.
As for Anthony Davis, he's going to Kentucky.
Are you all right? Loren

Bill from Champaign, Illinois wrote on April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

I'm hearing from more and more "close" sources to the program that Richmond wasn't going to classes and failing multiple subjects. Is that the most rumored reason for his departure?

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm
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Bill, well, that's one of them and, without knowing for certain, it figures to be one of the main ones.
It's hard to catch up when you fall behind and when Weber said he "could have returned but he had a tall mountain to climb," that sounded like a lot of makeup work. Loren

Loren Tate wrote on April 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm
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No more questions? OK, early lunch today. Thanks again for your interest. Loren