Smile Politely

Few ‘til a T

After Tuesday night’s sloppy exhibition game against Southern Indiana, Illini fans seem either glum or fuming.

The glum group is lowering its expectations. The fumers are calling airlines, trying to cancel their flights to Houston.

But lets all take a step back from the ledge, shall we? Again, it’s only an exhibition.

Of huge importance, I thought Mike Tisdale showed two key improvements in the post. First, he used the glass on a few shots. He used the rim and backboard as tools against his opponent. He held his position in the lane.

More of the offense needs to go through Tisdale. So it’s good to know he’s enhanced his capabilities. Now the only question is whether the rest of the Illini can get him the ball.

There’s news on that front…


For the last few weeks, Bruce Weber blamed his critics for misguiding him toward teaching offense. As a result of the crap showing in two exhibitions, Weber has decided to listen to his critics again.

He almost very nearly even accepted responsibility, on behalf of the coaching staff as a whole.

The Gremlin

Against USI, the Illini never got into a groove offensively, because the Eagles kept running the other way with the ball.

Some variety of plan might have helped, but keep in mind that USI point guard Kevin Gant is super fast, with great balance and coordination. At roughly three-feet tall, he was nearly impossible for the Illini to reach.

Jamar Smith wore neutral colors


Jamar wore neutral colors. He played for both Illinois and USI. I expect he was happy with the outcome, because both teams won.

I talked with Jamar at halftime. As you’ll see, he couldn’t hear me very well.


Referee Glenn Mayborg gave Jereme a chance. After an Illini basket, Mayborg watched Jereme lean over the baseline, spewing profanities at his Eagle opponent. Mayborg let it go, but kept an eye on the two.

Upon the inbounding of the ball, both players made their way down court. But Jereme turned around at the key, ready with a fresh batch of insults. That’s when Mayborg teed him up. It’s always the second foul, see.

USI’s Isaac McClure fell prey to the second foul rule. In a scrum under the same basket, McClure made a half-hearted feint at Tyler Griffey’s head.

Mike Sanzere and Glenn Mayborg

Referee Mike Sanzere, already feeling empowered by calling CJ Trotter for a rim-holding technical, teed McClure.

Coach Rodney Watson calms a boggling Isaac McClure.


Focusing on defense is especially important for teams that spend a lot of energy handing the ball to their opponents.

When the Illini take the ball out of bounds, it’s like a Hitchcock film. You just know something dreadful is about to happen.

Joe Bertrand gets inbounds duty whenever he’s in the game. That’s unfortunate for Joe, because his assist-to-turnover quotient will necessarily take a beating.

When Demetri McCamey takes the ball out, he settles for the baseball pass. It won’t trigger an alley-oop lob, but at least you get to keep the rock.

Given its change-of-heart on teaching offense, the coaching staff may soon draw up plays specifically designed to get the ball inbounds.


Two of my favorite Webers were on hand for the game — daughters Christine and Emily. Emily Weber is a freshman cheerleader, so you can expect her to be at most of the games.

Brandon Buchanan plays pyramid, while Emily Weber rides along.

Opinions differ about Bruce Weber’s coaching ability. He’s apparently done a top-notch job as dad. Gorgeous, hard-working and cheerful are three adjectives that spring immediately to mind.

I suppose a lot of credit must go to Megan Weber. I wonder how she is with zone principles.

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