Smile Politely

A winning streak (!)

Things to remember about the Illini win over Nebraska, 2014:

  • Nebraska had won 5 in a row.
  • Illinois had lost 5 in a row at home.
  • Terran Petteway entered the game as the B1G’s leading scorer.
  • Terran Petteway hit 1 of his first 13 shots.
  • One of Nebraska’s wins was @ Michigan State
  • Illinois’ next game is @ Michigan State
  • Charles Matthews announced his intention to play at Kentucky, 11.5 hours before tip-off.
  • You will never hear of Charles Matthews again.

Among the Chicago high school basketball establishment, you’re not likely to hear many nice things about Charles Matthews. That’s because they’re a competitive bunch. But not all of their criticism is borne of petty rivalry.

Wednesday morning, Matthews announced his intention to play college ball for John Calipari at Kentucky. His obituary immediately went to press.

I met Charles Matthews a few times, and found him to be among the best (even as a 15 to 16 year-old) at acknowledging/answering questions. He’s smart. He’s friendly. He’s handsome.

How good is he at basketball?

Keep an eye on the final media polls for all-state players. Charles may not finish among the best Matthews on his own team. His older brother, Dominique, looks to be the MVP for their team, Chicago St. Rita. If Charles is not rated among the first or second teams, statewide, his national ranking becomes something of an oddity.

In his defense, Matthews has been limited this season, due to injury.

In any case, Illinois doesn’t need another shooting guard right now. The 2012-13 version of Charles Matthews talked about playing the point. His current iteration seems to be an off-the-ball player. Ray Rice, Kendrick Nunn and Aaron Jordan give the Illini scoring prowess from now through the next Clinton/Bush administration. What Illinois really needs is a point guard.


Hey, how ‘bout them Huskers?

Nebraska was the “hot” team in the B1G, coming into this game. It’s not all media hype. They’d won five straight, and 7-of-8. And yes, Tim Miles has instilled a certain something (mostly on the defensive end) in the players he inherited from Doc Sadler.

Miles added Terran Petteway to that group.

It seems as though Nebraska may be serious about basketball. It may be that they’ll prove more problematic than historic Big Ten greats Indiana and Purdue as 21st Century economic realities prove … well, real.

Indiana can hang all the banners it wants, but its budget for athletics?

Nebraska’s football program now has Miles flying anywhere he wants, all the time, to see recruits. We all remember that Tom Izzo once flew Bruce Weber to a recruiting event, out of charity. As of this report, Illinois’ Division of Intercollegiate Athletics has no private plane.

Will we get one?

The DIA slapped its small-time donors in the face on Wednesday, offering a nameless tribute to a group of people who’d collectively contributed a paltry $2.5 million. An overhead camera shot of their huddled masses was displayed over the Assembly Hall’s State Farm Center’s center video board, just to show how important  invisible and unnamed you are if you contribute only a collective $2.5 million. I’d paste the picture of these semi-worthwhile persons, but due to shallow-pocket syndrome, hasn’t shared their JPEG on its Donor Recognition page.

Some day, these people will learn to contribute $2.5 million solo.

Now, to allay blame, I’ll point out that Lincoln is the state capital of Nebraska, and only 35 minutes (at a legal 75 MPH) from Nebraska’s only major city, Omaha. Being the only game in town, they can hold their donors over a barrel. Nebraska football is among The Sports Traditions in all these United States. The University of Illinois, on the other hand, must continually remind its administrators, legislators, trustees, etc. that it’s the flagship university of Illinois.

So if you’re weighing Nebraska versus Illinois; recognize that we are Illinois.

I continue to receive mixed reports about the finances of the SFC rebuilding project. Because it’s a big project, and because it involves a lot of disparate units among campus government; it’s not clear whose reports are most up-to-date. But the uninspiring unveiling of unnamed donors should be bookmarked by observers. The amount of announced donations does not,  at this point, come close to the amount needed.

So why is the DIA now thanking the also-rans?  Has the rainmaking dried?

Sorry. I shouldn’t be such a downer. After all, our basketball team is now tied for 9th in the Big Ten. I’m actually feeling kind of optimistic about things. Who wants to bet that we’ll beat those Spartans this Saturday?

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