Longtime (and current interim) University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry (that's him on the left) attended Tuesday night's basketball game against Iowa.
This basketball season's up 'n down start has a few people grumbling about Bruce Weber's $1.5 million dollar salary. (Here, for example, is an excellent grumble.)
So when Stan Ikenberry announced furloughs for university employees Tuesday morning, speculation about coaches' pay immediately became a hot topic.
I talked with Ikenberry at halftime of Tuesday's uncontested basketball game. He said he'd spoken with Athletic Director Ron Guenther earlier in the day, and that Guenther had already volunteered to give back some of his pay. He added that he wouldn't be surprised if Illini coaches made similar gestures.
Coaches are not paid from the same fund as general university staff. But you can expect the ones who get paid millions of dollars (to lead their teams to ho-hum seasons and lackluster finishes) to be lining up, in hopes of showing solidarity with the workin' man.
Bruce Weber did it right after the game, while also championing his own work ethic.
Don't be surprised if Ron Zook makes an unusual out-of-season visit to the state of Illinois, just to give us some of his pay. Zook gets paid more than most professors for each and every game he loses. Want to know how much your professor, coach or neighbor gets paid? Here it is (pdf).
STARTING THE GAME
Well, I told you so.
Jeff Jordan and Bill Cole were starters Tuesday. Demetri McCamey and DJ Richardson did not start.
But to avoid fucking with their heads, Weber gave McCamey and Richardson more minutes than anyone else — 28 and 26 respectively. They were the two high scorers, as well. Richardson tallied 17 and McCamey hit for nine.
The passes and movement looked really good in the early going, and Illinois jumped out to a 22–4 lead. Then it was 31–7.
But then the malaise returned.
The movement devolved into the same old passing around the arc. The team settled for jumpers. And yes, a lot of those jumpers went in, which observation you could make of all Illini victories this year.
But if you look at the cold hard facts, the Illini scored a measly 22 points after the break. The Hawkeyes scored 27. Illinois got beat in the second half, and they couldn't quite make it to sixty points against the shittiest Iowa team since rural electrification.
If any Illini besides Mike Davis were interested in rebounding, you'd probably be able to find some other Illini in this picture.
Coach Weber seemed super relaxed about it. In the press conference, I asked about the shot-clock violation. He was happy about it. He was excited about it. He was encouraged by it. He said the team would have beaten Gonzaga, if only they'd committed more shot clock violations.
I think it's fair, at this point, to question the man's mental faculties. He's so bent on long possessions and grinding defense that he thinks turnovers will win games.
Here's my logic: Quick shots occasionally result in quick points. Shot clock violations never do.
The other point to which keen listeners ought pay attention is Weber dismissing his own called play. He didn't care that it didn't work. He didn't expect it to work. They only had three seconds, after all.
Contrast this with the Weber quote from Saturday, when he tried to call time out with three seconds remaining. You may recall the team didn't settle for a quick shot in that case either. They were thoroughly unhurried re: shot taking. In fact, they barely got off a shot at all.
Think back to Clemson last year. Should the Illini have shot the ball then? Or is it better that they finished their final possession without shooting?
MAKING FUN OF NERDS
John Lickliter is the luckiest twelve year old boy in the world. His dad is the coach of a (formerly?) big time basketball program. And that means John gets to play too!
At about five and a half feet tall, and a little stocky, you'd never suspect to see John Lickliter on a basketball court — much less playing for a major conference team. He's listed at 5'11" which is basketball for "much shorter than that, but we couldn't get away with listing him at 6 feet."
I tried to figure out which '80s teen B-movie character actor he resembles. You remember when Robert Downey Jr. played the preppy prick in Weird Science? Well, it's not that.
There were a lot of Jon Cryer roles that John Lickliter doesn't fit, too. I think it's because Jon Cryer is somehow sympathetic.
The Orange Krush had a field day with this kid.
Junior Lickliter also fails to recall any of Kevin Bacon's lesser bit parts. He's too stumpy to portray the garden variety frat asshole you'd find in Animal House, for example.
I wouldn't be surprised if he were in a frat, but he looks more like an A/V Club guy or the kid who hangs around with the chess team — not because he's not good at chess, but because they don't beat him up.
He might have made a good Cory. Or better yet, he'd have made a good bad Cory.
It's going to be a long career for Junior. As long as his dad inserts him in games he's going to have to deal with the taunts, as well as the overriding shame and obvious dilemma that it's simply ridiculous to put him on the court.
Kevin Kruger was pretty good. Saul Smith is tall enough to at least resemble a basketball player. You just felt sorry for Pat Knight.
But this Lickliter kid ... I don't know.
Everybody was looking at him, thinking the same thing.
His smug expression failed to endear him to me. He gives the impression that he's got an attitude of entitlement. You wonder which keggers he infests, and who's glad to see him when he arrives.
I asked Jeff Jordan after the game, "How tall do you think that Lickliter kid was?"
"About five-eight, maybe five-nine," he replied.
One of these guys gets to play only because of who his dad is.
And speaking of Jeff Jordan speaking...
JEFFREY JORDAN SPEAKS
Jeff has been off-limits to the media since he rejoined the team. He is now on-limits. This is good. He's not only a hard worker, he's a hard thinker. And he's an eloquent spokeman for his team.
And he's a nice guy.
Everyone with a microphone or a notepad huddled around him after the press conference. Here's what he said: