Smile Politely

Fugeddaboudit (or, how I learned to stop worrying and love recruiting)

I’m with Bill Cole.

Let’s just forget about this game, and move on. We learned nothing new. Illinois lost because it made no shots, while Ohio State made every shot.

So let’s talk about the future instead. The sun will come out tomorrow!


Tony Foster is heavily involved with his son’s recruitment. He pays attention to a lot of little things. He’s especially curious to see how coaches interact with players.

So far he’s watched Bill Carmody and Bruce Weber do their thing. Most of their other recruiting adventures took place at football games. But his son Alex is just a freshman, so they’ll have a chance to see plenty of basketball games, too.

Hope Foster says they get a scholarship offer every time they turn around. She wore a lovely pink and white outfit to Sunday’s game, knowing that pink won’t betray preferences.

(Left: Hope and Tony Foster (foreground) with son Alex, who sat with DJ Richardson Sr. Behind Alex is Brandon’s brother Darius Paul.)

The Fosters thought the Assembly Hall was loud Sunday. In truth, The Hall was a mausoleum compared to last week’s victory over MSU.

Alex sat with DJ’s dad. They agreed that ball-in-basket is preferable to ball-bouncing-off-rim. Alex also talked about adjusting to his high school system, not being nervous to play anymore, and getting good grades.


Chasson and his dad Willie Randle seem to be everywhere these days. Chasson’s mom Gwen is harder to find.

But I tracked her down Sunday. Here’s what she had to say about the recruiting adventure.


Since Chester Frazier left, Bruce Weber and Jerrance Howard have wracked their brains, contemplating various theories on how and where to find toughness.

A few weeks ago in the tunnel, Weber said they’ve been wondering whether they should return to Baltimore, and offer the toughest kid they find there. He also wondered whether they shouldn’t just offer a football player.

Hamilton Southeastern’s Gary Harris is a 6’4″ SG and football star. He may be exactly what Weber has in mind.

(Right: 2012 prospect Gary Harris with his mom. Joy and The Caped Crusader.)


The rest of the recruits were point guards. I don’t know why.

Maybe the Weber Administration is giving up on the All-Wing strategy, and moving to an All-Point offense. 2012 PG Tracy Abrams is already in the fold.

Marcus Fair, 2013 PG from Plainfield North sat beside an Indiana Pacers scout named Nick.

There were so many ballhandlers to meet, I could hardly pay attention to the game. In hindsight, that worked out pretty well.

Marcus Paige, 6’0″ 2012 PG from Marion, Iowa.

5’11 senior Wayne Simon plays point for Gene Pingatore’s Westchester St. Joe squad.

DeAndre McCamey also plays for Ping.

I talked to coach Ping at halftime.

He gave his analysis, which was spot on. He gave his prediction of the second half, which proved that you’d not want to accompany him to a casino.


Illinois looked like a team that stayed out late on a Saturday night. All the shots were short.

We learned long ago that Illinois is vulnerable to poor shooting. They can beat anybody, and they can be beaten by anybody. It’s unlikely that they’ll put together six good games against increasingly tough competition, so a national championship is probably not on the cards this year.


I thought the ball movement looked great for much of the game. In fact, I thought the offense looked better than it did at Wisconsin.

That game proved Illinois can beat anybody when it has unreal success from outside. Sunday’s game proved that Illinois can run its offense fluidly and get pummeled.

Coach Weber again refrained from criticizing his staff and players in the postgame. Jon Diebler had time to set up a tent, get the fire going, as he camped out on the wing awaiting open shots. Weber said a lot of Diebler’s threes came off-balance when he’d made a hard cut. I remember that one, too. I was about 15 feet behind Jon on a direct line to the basket. I could see the shot was off as soon as he let it go. (That was the one that hit the rim.)

But the rest of the time, Diebler had all day to set up and get square.

Smell my finger. Whaddya smell?”

It’s hard to believe this loss. I mean, it’s hard to take it seriously.

We know this team can lay an egg, so it’s not stunning. In contrast, the 2007 tOSU home loss seemed like the nail in the coffin of Illinois’ flirtation with eliteness. We lost that game by 18 points, but the guys in red had all the amazing recruits on the floor, and more coming. We had only some gawky Class A white kid in the fold. We hadn’t yet learned about the Jumping Jack from NOVA.

It still seems like the Buckeyes have superior players. But it’s interesting to note that so few play so many minutes. The rest of the squad are not so much role players, but practice players.

Maybe the Illini recruits at Sunday’s game represent a hodge-podge of future practice players and future millionaires. If so, it’s because Bruce Weber holds fast to his preferred concept: The 9-man rotation.

The Weber Era pattern shows that four scholarship athletes will see zero playing time for Illinois, year in and year out. If this system represents a philosophy gleaned over years of tutelage at the knee of Gene Keady, one wonders if we can expect similar results. i.e. Weber’s Illini teams will gel into conference champions, but run out of gas by the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Keady never made a Final Four.

Kelvin Sampson was also notorious for running his teams into the ground, leaving nothing in the tank for March. But Sampson, Weber and Thad Matta all made Final Four runs.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the Buckeyes for just this reason. If they all stay healthy, will they have enough legs for tournament play? If one of their five goes down (again) does that make them immediately a middle-of-pack team (again)?


BP still takes terrible shots. That hurt Illinois on Sunday.

But it was especially disheartening to seem him gunning in the last minutes of yesterday’s game. Everyone wanted to see Bubba Chisholm drain a three. They wanted Stan Simpson and Rich Semrau to get touches.

Bubba dribbled to the corner with 5 seconds to go, and passed it back to Brandon, who’s face immediately contorted in perplexion. Maybe Bubba wasn’t tacitly saying, “here, obviously you want this ball.”

We want Brandon to score and do well. And we want him to pick his spots.


I disagree with all the people who complain about Mike Davis. I think he should be our top scorer and rebounder. I don’t think he should be expected to adapt an entirely new personality.

Yes, he is not a Baltimore tough. That’s because he’s from the Virginia suburbs. The southern side of DC is distinctly different from the hard streets to the north.

His mom Tangie Davis made it through the DC blizzard, and fetched her dad Tommy Thompson on the way to a packed flight out of Reagan National.

Like Mike, they are affable people. It was good to see them.

The charming Tangie Davis beams next to Mike’s grandfather, Tommy Thompson.

It was also great to see Lou and Mary Henson glowing among all of Seth Fein’s newest best buddies.

I hope they made it a little late, and missed the Krush’s player introduction chant of “OSU Sucks! OSU Sucks!”

Lou and Mary are a bit genteel for that variety of language.


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