Smile Politely

Playing like girls

The Oakland game irked Illini fans.

It shouldn’t.

Yes, the Illini got creamed on the boards. Yes, they looked terrible at the start.

They were out of sync for a good reason. They played the first 7 minutes with a regulation women’s basketball.

I’m not alarmed by their performance. I’d be more alarmed if Bruce Weber seriously believed the size and condition of the rock is no big deal.

That would be true for a fivesome of ham-fisted bruisers. For a team of finesse guys and jump-shooters, it’s a huge deal.

A Size 7 (men’s) regulation basketball has a circumference between 29.5-30 inches. It weighs 20-22 ounces, and has a diameter of 9.39 inches.

The Size 6 (women’s) regulation basketball has a circumference between 28.5 and 28 7/8 inches. It weighs 17.5-19.5 ounces and has a diameter of 9.07 inches.

So I assume Weber’s only joshing. He should know by now that his Talls are not going to beat up on butch opponents. He should know from past experience that his teams will achieve great success by hitting a lot of outside shots. He should know his teams would lose those same games if only a few of those shots don’t fall.


True, the Matto showed a lowly 27 Heldmans. But the difference between the slow start and the thunderous rally was shots falling. That’s all. Nothing else.

Imagine 2005 if Jack Ingram didn’t hit a pair of threes at Wisconsin. Recall the other Wisconsin game, where Dee Brown hit treys from 28 feet while Bo Ryan shrugged at the impossibility of extending his defense any farther.

The recent Gonzaga game would have looked much different if the Illini hadn’t ripped off a stunning 11-for-13 bombardment. The Sean May Game might have been The Luther Head game, too.

Live by it. Die by it. But let’s not pretend we don’t know who we are.


By the way, Mike Tisdale did just fine against NBA prospect Keith Benson. Tisdale outrebounded Benson nine to seven. He and Mike Davis held Benson to eleven points.

Referees Mike Sanzere and Ray Perone made frequent comments and warnings to all the frontcourt players, keeping the action from ever getting interesting.

Oakland caught a lot of long rebounds in the early minutes. That’s where you miss Bill Cole.

Cole doesn’t let guards and wings penetrate. You’d have found him filling the gap where those balls bounced. You might not see him collect the ball himself, and he might not get statistical credit. More likely he’d do what he often does: bat the ball to a teammate before it lands in the wrong hands.

Oakland’s rebounding edge came via forward Will Hudson (8) and guard Reggie Hamilton (7), who also led the Golden Grizzlies in scoring with 14 and 18 respectively. (And yes, this suburban Detroit team is nicknamed Grizzlies. But if Utah can have a Jazz, and the Mojave a Lakers …)

Reggie Hamilton waits for referee Eric Curry to execute the Steve Welmer pants hitch

Hudson, maybe moreso than Benson, shows the type of muscle tone and hops most troublesome to the Illini interior. Hamilton recalls Chester Frazier, a natural pivot man forced by height to play guard.

Meechi made this shot. Consequently, neither Hudson nor Hamilton speared the rebound

These were the guys who pounded our Illini. And you can’t put that on Mike Tisdale. But as long as Illinois wins all its games by a dozen, it just doesn’t matter. Bruce Weber is a genius until further notice.


Tonight’s courtside visitors were Black or beautiful. In some cases, both.

The ladies were guests of Mr. McCamey. It makes a fella want to score thirty points.

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