Smile Politely

A thousand cuts

Lou Henson’s ouster came with sufficient advanced warning: Bobby Knight knew to present Lou with a rocking chair.

Was the “Honored Coach” program invented with Bruce Weber in mind? As a golden umbrella? Will Weber be honored on March 13th as Illinois hosts the opening round of the 2012 NIT?

The offense looked great for the third loss in a row. Ball movement, hi-lo, Meyers establishing a low-post presence… all that good stuff. It was fun watching Brandon put the ball on his hip and attack the rack. Rebounding worked. Lots of exciting shot blocking.

How the fuck did they lose?

Well, they fell behind by ten because Minnesota forced multiple turnovers via the full-court press. Minnesota played 10 guys and each got 15 minutes or more.

A deep rotation, running, pressing. Defense creating offense. Sounds good, right?

It was good.

It was even better than Illinois, which handicapped itself by shooting too many threes. Surprise!

As Gilda Radner pointed out, “it’s always something.” Bruce Weber said as much in his postgame presser. His offense was great tonight, except for the shots dropping 14.3% of the time (3 of 21 from deep).

It may be important, some day, to remember how good the Illini offense looked during this stretch. It’s only now that all the major media outlets openly speculate The End of the Weber Era. Ironic that Illinois is playing its best, most entertaining basketball.

Whether wistful or second-guessing, it’ll be important to complement the memory with a cold fact: Illinois looked great and finished with fewer points than its underwhelming opponents.

I preferred watching this loss to the shitty wins. But I’d like to see poetry in the motion, and Illinois +15 on the final ledger.

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