Tate: What I'm thinking
Most folks engage in spring cleaning this time of year but, for me, it’s an occasion for mind clearing ... two dozen thoughts, rumors and opinions ... my version of tossing out rubbish and old magazines.
— I’ll favor “Oblivion” over “42” for my next movie, chiefly because I want to remember Jackie Robinson as the complex individual he was. The TV discussion involving Harrison Ford (who plays Branch Rickey) and former Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe was informative, but anyone else playing Robinson is, for me, like William Bendix or John Goodman pretending to be Babe Ruth. It doesn’t work. Incidentally, Goodman was great in “Argo” and “Flight.”
— My spies inform that Seton Hall sophomore Aaron Cosby will be a particularly good addition to the Illini program. Cosby alternated at point and drained 47 percent of his treys in the last 15 games. Acquiring deadeyes makes more sense than trying to turn mediocre shooters into accurate ones.
— Dan Hartleb’s Illini should run on every opportunity. Going into Saturday’s game, they have stolen 75 bases in 88 tries, with the quartet of Justin Parr, Jordan Parr, Dave Kerian and Thomas Lindauer safe on 50 of 54 tries. Incredible!
— It’s scary to think what the Assembly Hall will look like two years from now when they’re tearing out Sections A and B. Will they be able to conduct anything in there in the summer of 2015, and how will it appear for the 2015-16 basketball season?
— If there’ll be 1,100 cameras taking constant pictures on the UI campus by year’s end, how many more will be added in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings? Meanwhile, how will we check all those backpacks in the upcoming marathon here?
— Buzz around town deals with Jeff Finke’s multiple interviews for the Champaign Central basketball job, and whether he would change his residence in order to have son Michael Finke, an Illini commit, leave Centennial for the Maroons. But Rantoul native Sean Taylor, the 10-year coach at Quincy, should be the favorite if he wants it.
— While as yet unresolved, there’s a likelihood that suspended Illini receiver Darius Millines won’t be back, and chronic knee problems may prevent tight end Jon Davis from attaining his potential.
— Bruce Weber, receiving multiple performance bonuses and a new contract at Kansas State, still has followers here, one of whom noted, “It takes a unique person to coach, recruit, babysit college kids, run an office, raise money, network with alums, manage assistants, and stay out of trouble personally and with the NCAA.” My response: He’d better recruit. Nothing else matters if he doesn’t do that, and it isn’t going well so far.
— In theory, hosting a football game in Chicago can be beneficial in drawing attention to the Illini up north, but next September might not be the ideal time for this particular team to play Washington at Soldier Field. When you lose, most of the publicity is negative.
— Did Michigan freshman Mitch McGary miss the boat by not entering the draft? He could hardly be a hotter item next year and might be exposed the way Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller was late this season. For example, will a 44 percent free throw shooter keep hitting 15-foot jumpers? McGary will be 21 prior to the June draft, which is older than Zeller and some juniors.
— No, Doug Collins isn’t retiring in order to help son Chris at Northwestern. It worked for Steve Alford to hire his dad, but this wouldn’t.
— Next UI junior to turn pro will be Thomas Pieters, who won the NCAA golf title last year as a sophomore. Mike Small’s team will need a special performance from the Belgian star if the Illini are to win their fifth straight Big Ten title at French Lick, Ind., beginning Friday. Timing is fleeting in all sports, but none more so than golf.
— Wish I’d seen Ebertfest’s “Days of Heaven” with Richard Gere on Wednesday. The versatile Gere has become a favorite of mine, particularly after my repeated viewings of the musical numbers in “Chicago.” I never get tired of John C. Reilly singing “Mr. Cellophane” and Queen Latifah doing “When You’re Good to Mama.”
— With NBA playoffs underway, can we lay off all the conjecture about Derrick Rose? Here’s the real question: Will he be the same player when he returns next season? Second question: If Tom Thibodeau won 45 games in the face of all those Bulls injuries, why isn’t he Coach of the Year?
— In the last four years, the Illini have had five first-round NFL draftees and four (including Champaign’s Mikel Leshoure) in the second round. But it may be the fourth round before Akeem Spence — one of 73 underclassmen — or any other Illini is tabbed when the event starts Thursday.
— Bob Dylan will go on without me Thursday. Who wants to listen to a singer older than I am, and especially one who, while a great songwriter, wasn’t a particularly good singer when he was at his best?
— The BTN’s Howard Griffith says that seven quarterback positions are “up for grabs” in the conference. He included Illinois, which doesn’t appear the case after Nathan Scheelhaase appeared sharp in guiding his team to a 28-0 lead in the spring game, and Reilly O’Toole hurt his chances with four interceptions that night.
— “The Americans” has just two more episodes before taking time off. So, for a few months, we’ll have to do without Margo Martindale, the Southern crime matriarch who intentionally drank her own poisoned moonshine in “Justified” but is back as a Soviet KGB handler in the Cold War drama. Oh, on the subject of shows, when do we get to see Johnny Depp as Tonto? This is like Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson. Different.
— Seldom does Big Brother bow to media-fan wishes, but it’s great news to hear the confusing Legends-Leaders divisions will be dropped in 2014 with Purdue joining six in the Central time zone. The Big Ten finally has concluded that geography makes sense.
— With litigation likely, what are the chances that rooftop owners will cause a delay in Wrigley Field renovations ... or do they really have a case related to impaired sightlines caused by a new JumboTron?
— Best advice ever: Brian Urlacher, with all your money and status, save your knees and brain cells (if it’s not too late) and retire now. You’ve already proved you were an exceptional linebacker.
— With Brad Dancer’s tennis team falling out of the Top 25, the Illini surely will need to win two regional matches on the road to reach the 16-team NCAA tournament here next month. They are getting better, especially at doubles, but it’s a tall order. On that note, the tournament wouldn’t be coming here if Shahid Khan hadn’t provided the tennis program with several million bucks.
— The rush to recruit is behind Rutgers’ quick move in hiring new basketball coach Eddie Jordan. But it is seldom good policy to pick a coach before the AD is named.
— A side note to Bob Asmussen, who underwent open-heart surgery in St. Louis. We’re thinking about you, buddy. The News-Gazette needs you on the football sideline.
Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.