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 ltate@news-gazette.com.

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blmillini wrote on April 22, 2013 at 7:04 am

I just hope the Assembly Hall is altered in a way that all those "no shows" in the lower sections are no longer within camera shot.  Seeing those seats empty during big games is an embarrassment to the basketball team, the fans of the Illini and the university.  For god's sake, sell the seats or give them away if you can't show up.  There are plenty of people (and especially kids) that would love to be able to sit in seats like those.  In fact, maybe the university (DIA) should start some kind of program making it easy on the ticket holders to get those tickets into the hands of responsible, excited fans that will fill those seats.

IlliniMike05 wrote on April 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm

My understanding- and by all means, someone correct me if I'm wrong- is that a lot of those A section seats that are so frequently empty are reserved for recruits in non-revenue sports. If this is correct, this irritates me even more than fans letting those tickets go unused. Because you're right, it just looks terrible on TV. The....I wanna say Minnesota game this year, someone at work was kind enough to give me a pair of his A section tickets he couldn't use. Just looking around the building and being temporarily forgetful of A section's empty seats because I was in them, I texted my buddy, "I don't think there's 10 empty seats here, Hall's jumping tonight." and there probably weren't in B or C. To which he responded after the game started, "lol, I see 20 in A alone." Not cool, DIA. Not cool.


(Semi-related, but I will say this in defense of the A section fans: I find most of the stories of blue-hairs yelling at boistrous fans to sit down and be quiet to be apocryphal. I don't know where these stories come from but I've never witnessed it first-hand, and I usually get A tickets a couple times a year. I find the A section crowd to be just as noisy and into the game as the rest. The only time I can remember having a problem with A section fans is when it was all kids and I was the only one cheering for any of the bad guys.....OK, maybe that was a WWE show and not a basketball game.) 


 

IlliniMike05 wrote on April 22, 2013 at 9:04 am

I gave up on The Americans after about six episodes. The first few were pretty good but it just didn't grab me. I think I read too many reviews raving about it and it didn't live up to that for me. Oh well. Justified was awesome this season, Breaking Bad is back in July and Sons of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire are both back shortly after that.


Agree on McGary. I don't see him suddenly developing a post game and he'll be a near-22 year old sophomore next year if he decides to enter the draft. He'll still be a beast of a rebounder with sheer physical force but his offensive game came almost entirely off of pick and roll/pop with Burke. I know Derrick Watson is supposed to be good but have fun replicating that with Watson and Albrecht next year. In a featured role I'm sure McGary will increase his per-game averages and I think his FT percentage will improve as he gets to the line more. But I think he's even more susceptible to having his game picked apart than Zeller was/is. Even as he turned out to not be a megastar, Zeller was at least a great college player for two whole years while McGary had a few good weeks. I think he can be an All-Big Ten player but as a lottery prospect, he was hot now in a weak draft. Being a year old for his academic year will always hurt him as a prospect and I don't think the nature of his game is going to change. He made a mistake.


Also agree on Cosby, and I really want to punch the "durr, we need to save that scholarship for all of the five-star recruits!" derp crowd in their faces. He's a great shooter, which we need. He can play either guard, which we also need (yes, a pure point guard who can also score would be preferable, but the more guys who can handle the rock, the better), and we already know he can score against the UConns, Syracuses, Villanovas, etc. If you can do it against them, you can do it against the Big Ten. He's a solid addition, and if some people want to choose to be willfully ignorant, that's their problem.

Bwp 5P wrote on April 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

Good Luck Bob.......done that twice myself!

Bear8287 wrote on April 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Best wishes to Bob for a speedy recovery!

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on April 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Loren,

your are right; Bob Dylan can't sing and he is probably the best contemporary poet laureate we have.  His contemporary lyrics are an amazing, refreshing, insightful interpretation of the current state of culture/society/.

What you really miss--and probably due to not attending his live performances the last three decades--is his BAND.  It is the best and most talented band on tour.  These Guys can play anything and can perform exactly the way Bob wants to improvise.  Their ability to take his songs and re-arrange them into  up-tempo versions can only be appreciatedif the concert Attendee can let his vocals just be what they are and listen to Group's amazing quality of live performing.

FloridaIllini wrote on April 24, 2013 at 5:04 am

Sporting News did a ranking of Big Ten football coaches and guess where ours finished?  Right where the team finished- dead last!  In 58 years of watching Illini football I've never had so little enthusiasm or hope.for our football program.