Smile Politely

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I’d planned to title this column “Weber’s Waterloo,” but by the time I got to my hotel Loren Tate had already published to that effect.

I always read other reports to find out what happened.  Unfortunately, few Illini reporters were on hand to tell me. Only Shannon Ryan and John Supinie attended. I spent the Thursday’s first half gabbing with Steve Ross and Matt Gardner (two ex-Illinois Law guys, now at PSU), so naturally I was curious to know what legitimate journalists might say.

I’d planned the Waterloo reference for a week, because I’d assumed Illinois would lose this game. The surrealistic bump in confidence post-Ohio State affected casual observers, and a few polls voters. Taking the long view, it was nearly impossible to predict an Illinois win.

That said, I didn’t think the game was bad. Ball movement was pretty good. Meyers got a dozen shots, and hit half of them. It’s still not enough touches, but it’s an improvement.

This was exactly the kind of game Bruce Weber teams lose. We know that to be the case, because Bruce Weber’s teams have consistently lost these games. Yes, Ed DeChellis may have cleared out his desk, but he left behind the title deed to Bruce Weber.

If the Illini had hit on 60% of their shots, they totally could’ve won this game.


Four years on the beat, it’s hard to find new talking points. Some things bear repeating. Meyers Leonard’s mid-post game is delightful to watch, for all kinds of reasons. His passing is first among those reasons. His brute force is third. His low-post moves are sixth, but still fund to watch. In between those rankings are his dirty tricks, his facial expressions, and ability to remain unique and interesting.

Meyers is a weirdo. (“I’m not really normal” he said after tonight’s game.)

Meyers best play of the night came seconds after his 5th foul. He flummoxed the Penn State Pederasts (this may not be the nickname of their student cheering group) during their foul-out walk-off chant. (If you’re not familiar, this chant is common to all student cheering groups. They holler “left, right, left, right” as the disqualified player marches toward the bench. They yell “SIT DOWN!” when he sits. But Meyers faked ’em out, jumping back up before his butt hit the vinyl seat.

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