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#AskTCR: Marcus Smart, Retired Jerseys, & Fictional Friendships


Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The losing streak has finally ended! Hooray! And the Olympics have started and Justified is in midseason form and True Detective is amazing and all the snow is about to melt in Kansas (sorry everyone back home). Basically, things are finally looking up again. Which is why it's nutty that there were basically no questions submitted until Monday afternoon. Shameful.

There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. Well change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.

If I'm being honest? Most things. I don't really find men's figure skating to be that unintentionally hilarious. There is definitely potential for comedy when altered, as done by SBN's very own Brian M. Floyd, but that was a mash-up created on purpose. Maybe it's because I grew up watching far too much figure skating because it is my mom's favorite Winter Olympic event, but it doesn't really tickle me as funny unless it's trying to be. I just see a bunch of guys who are a hell of a lot more talented than I am at ice skating and definitely more fearless. I'm not going to launch myself violently into the air at high speeds while on ice and wearing tiny blades on my feet. That's insanity.

But to answer your question while staying on the theme of Olympic sports, go watch some dressage videos. That stuff is the definition of unintentional comedy.


I was fairly confident this question would be asked and Andrew made sure I wouldn't be disappointed. I'll start off with the easiest part: should Marcus Smart have pushed the fan? No. Other than involving them in victory celebrations and such, athletes generally shouldn't physically interact with the fans on the sideline. Nothing good can come of it.

Do I think the fan deserved it? This is the harder question. We all know people we wish would just get hit. Callous assholes, ranting jackasses, Will Sheehey. But it doesn't ever make it right. I don't know what the fan said. I have a hard time believing all he called Smart was "a piece of crap". Calling a 5th grader "a piece of crap" isn't going to induce that visceral of a reaction. It sure as hell won't get one out of a sober college athlete.

I've never believed the whole "I paid for this ticket, I now have the right to heckle all I want" line of thought. If you can be creative and clever without being offensive? By all means, say/do what you will. The world can always use a little more silliness. But if you're the kind of boor that hurls racial slurs at someone 30+ years younger than you and expects zero consequences from your actions? Eventually life does catch up to you.

An email from Turtleman-

Regarding last week's question "why aren't we good at anything?"

Because you only focus on two sports! Just this past weekend: #15 Illinois wrestling defeats Purdue and #9 Northwestern, Softball opens with a 5-0 weekend, #4 Men's Gymnastics routs #9 Iowa, and #22 Men's Tennis upsets #8 Texas A&M and #10 Texas. This doesn't even include what is arguably Illinois' best sport--Men's Golf.

Comment #2: Totally agree with your inclusion of the Brooklyn 99 cast and Lizzy Caplan on your list last week.

A question? Do you watch White Collar and do you think it will return for season 6?

Our reptile enthusiast of a friend makes a very good point with his first comment. Illinois does have quite a few teams that are really good at what they do. The only problem is they aren't high profile sports, so unless you're on campus or a devout follower of said sport, you haven't really seen ranking numbers in front of Illinois very much as of late.

An ex-girlfriend of mine kept recommending and recommending that I start watching White Collar while we were dating. I never got around to it. I don't think I ever will. That being said, USA is pretty good at announcing its intentions in regards to cancelling shows and has quite the habit of letting things go on far too long (both comments are directed at my once beloved Psych), so I'd say unless the whole cast dies (did the season end?), you should be safe. If not, start watching True Detective so I have more people to talk to that show about. It is amazing and I want to talk more about it.

Retiring numbers can be quite the tricky business. You don't want to be like the Seattle Mariners and only have the one number everyone has retired be it (seriously though, a team older than Tom Fornelli only has Jackie Robinson's number retired). But you also don't want to be the New York Yankees and retire every semi-meaningful players' number. Once Derek Jeter retires, 6 will be the only single digit jersey available. For a college team, I think you should only retire a number if that player leads your team to a championship or has a Hall of Fame career. There is too much roster turnover to be taking away numbers. I actually really like the current way of doing things, so I'm just going to leave every jersey option open so long as the player choosing it knows the legacy he's wearing.


I think so. We all knew this would be a down year. When your bench is nothing but freshman and Mike LaTulip, there are bound to be massive growing pains. But he's still a top notch recruiter and will be able to pitch a high amount of minutes to anyone who signs on the dotted line. He's still using players he didn't recruit, so I'll be more concerned next year when it's almost all his players on the roster. Does it make it harder to land top recruits if you aren't at the top of your conference? Yeah. But being up there doesn't necessarily mean they're going to move to Champaign either.

As a future health care professional, all I can recommend is that you do so politely. Manners mean everything. That being said, don't come on too strongly. Start with lunch and see where things go from there.

An email from Shane Baker-

If you could hang out with any group of friends from any TV show, book, movie, etc. who would it be and why?

This is an incredibly hard question! Well, actually the more I think about it, the more I realize that isn't true and I would choose to be a part of the study group on Community if it was a TV show. They have a lot of fun and engage in quite a bit of pop culture fueled hijinkery, which is right up my alley. It would almost have to be a group from a sitcom though, because think of all the dramas you watch. I don't want to hangout with Raylan Givens. He's selfish as heck. I sure as hell don't want to be friends with Jimmy McNulty. I'm self-destructive enough as is.

From books? If comic books count, the Justice League. Because if I'm friends with them, that means I have super powers and that would be pretty danged neat. Plus I'd get to teleport and be in space and really the perks don't stop other than people constantly trying to kill you. I don't think I have an answer for movie because outside of series, you never really spend enough time with a group to make me really wish I was part of it.

I definitely believe it's something we'll be seeing a lot more of from here out. It just makes sense. There's always pride at stake, but this is a lost season so we may as well let the kids get some seasoning.

This is going to sound really pessimistic, but I'm putting the odds at <5%. Nebraska is improved this year, but still Nebraska and the game against Minnesota should by all means be a toss-up. Ohio State isn't the usual top gun they tend to be. But this just isn't a team I see winning all four of those games. Best case scenario to me is probably 3-1.

I'll follow last answer's negativity with some positivity: yes. I don't know how high of a seed they'll manage to be, but I do believe the 2014-15 Illini will make the big dance. Other than potential transfers, the team is only going to lose Joe Bertrand and Jon Ekey after this season. The five freshmen will all be sophomores who have survived a season of Big Ten play. Ahmad Starks and Aaron Cosby will be eligible. Rayvonte Rice will be healthy. Leron Black will be on the team. The future looks fantastically brighter than the present.

Cosby is a career 38.8% three-point shooter. Yes, it's from a lesser conference, but still. Ekey is exactly in line with his career numbers this year, despite having transferred. That 38.8% would rank 3rd on the team this year, behind only Bertrand and LaTulip. So realistically, it would rank second. That would help a great deal. Add in the fact that he's a competent guard who will have had the past year to do nothing but learn the system and I think he'll wind up being a very helpful player next season.

An email from Scott Stein-

Missouri is 4-6 in the SEC right now, are on a three game losing streak, and a couple current projections have them just missing out on the tournament. None of that is a question, I'm just trying to make myself and others feel better about basketball season. Is it working?

I can't answer for you, but I think Mizzou fans have decided to take more pride in Michael Sam, which allows them to completely ignore how badly their season is going. As for us? I'd take more delight in Northwestern completely falling apart. Living in Manhattan has made me have to somewhat embrace the Unholy Alliance with Mizzou against the Jayhawks. Being from north of I-80 makes it a lot harder to hate Mizzou and their fans.

The fatal flaw in hitting rock bottom is assuming things can only get better. There is always the option that they could remain just as terrible. That being said, I think we start climbing back out of that hole.

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