Relatively light week for questions, which makes sense. It's late April. Nothing is happening. Which makes me think we might have to switch to a biweekly mailbag midsummer, but we'll see. One other thing of note: I CAN'T USE QUESTIONS THAT DON'T INVOLVE THE HASHTAG. It makes it far too hard for me to scroll through a week's worth of notifications and at that point I feel no guilt in leaving your question unanswered.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. We'll 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.
Our Lincoln already has his fists up. If his lyricism starts lagging, he's just going to go all Ghostface Killah on yours as if you were Ma$e. Our Lincoln understands that Wu-Tang is for the kids. Does yours?
It's definitely not a failure if they fail to make the Sweet 16. Any time you go from being a #2 in the NIT to making the tournament, a Sweet 16 bid is more icing on the cake than true expectation. So while I would love it, I'd have a very hard time calling next year a disappointment if they don't make it that far.
Round of 32 though? That's where we start to enter some interesting territory. Making the tournament next year is the goal. I am very comfortable saying that, barring massive injury/surprise transfer issues, missing the big dance next year would be a failure of a season. Failing to advance past the first game would be disappointing. No one likes watching one game with passion and the rest from an apathetic distance. But I don't think I could call it a failure. If they don't make it that far in the 2015-16 season, then I'd be fine with calling it a failure.
Haven't heard any updates on the point guard front. Still not optimistic about Jalen Brunson choosing Illinois. I think he's going to Michigan, but I would love to be wrong. I'd be ecstatic about it. I just don't think I am. Three star PG Justin Robinson out of Virginia just picked up an offer from the Illini to go with ones from Maryland, VA Tech, and Temple. And there's still always Nick Noskowiak, who it looks like we'll be mainly battling Marquette for.
As for 2015s, John Groce was down in Texas visiting Elijah Thomas when he found out about the Darius Paul news. In home visits are always wonderful and John Groce is great at winning over parents during them. Thomas is another player that would be a peacock feather in Groce's cap, but the odds of landing him feel even slimmer than those of landing Brunson.
With the amount of hustle Groce has been putting into landing another transfer, it feels like someone may be on the way out. The low man on that totem pole would be Austin Colbert. If someone transfers in, I wouldn't be surprised to see Colbert transfer out.
An email from Shane-
This is coming from a Cubs fan who remembers very little of Harry Carey, what I do remember was annoying so at least I have some perspective, but Hawk Harrelson is just the worst right? I know you're a big White Sox fan but I can't imagine having to sit and listen to him every night.Also
It is 1933. You are in Berlin, Germany. Somehow, you find yourself in a position where you can effortlessly steal Adolf Hitler’s wallet. This theft will not affect Hitler’s rise to power, the nature of WWII, or the Holocaust. There is no important identification in the wallet, but the act will cost Hitler forty Reichmarks and completely ruin his evening. You do not need the money. The odds that you will be caught committing this crime are less than 2 percent. Are you ethically obligated to steal Hitler’s wallet?
Have you ever listened to a Kansas City Royals broadcast? Thanks to MLB's archaic blackout rules, I have to about 14 or so times per season. Every now and then I will listen to the opposing teams' broadcast just to see what life is like for other fanbases. Nothing is worse than listening to Rex Hudler talk about baseball. If you played the first few MLB: The Show games, you know exactly what I'm talking about. This is a man who spent an entire inning talking to his daughter (who was in right field) on his cell phone. I'm not kidding. An entire inning of that somehow happened without a producer slapping him.
I understand why people don't like Hawk. He's a homer. He loves his catchphrases. He pouts. But those traits tend to endear him more to me than push me away. It's like watching baseball with a nutty older uncle. He does know his shit, he's just a bit of a curmudgeon who doesn't like change. And I'll never understand the issue with him being a homer. He's announced 24 seasons of White Sox baseball and was briefly the team's GM. It would be weird if he wasn't a homer. I don't want an impartial broadcaster for a 162 game season. I want someone who feels like I do, but gets more emotional. That's Hawk.
For your second question, it's not even a question of ethics to me. The vast majority of things I do are done solely because I find them entertaining. I'm not evil, I just have a very faulty moral compass. Friend of the site ColinTJ once described me thusly "this just certifies officially that you're just some timeless puck who jumps through time to wreak minor havoc" and it might be my favorite description of myself. So yeah, I'd steal that wallet in a heartbeat, even if I wasn't a good pickpocket.
With the amount of time and money invested in the rebranding, I think that's a fair assumption to make. Doesn't hurt that it's a very pretty icon/logo thingy.
What's the most painful sports injury you can imagine? #askTCR
— Tony Gallo (@firet92) April 22, 2014
Compound open fracture. Doesn't matter where, that's going to hurt like no other. I've been concussed, broken and dislocated my right wrist, sprained ankles, dislocated my right should and torn the labrum, and bruised my ribs falling from a roof.. But I don't think anything would hurt more than a bone breaking in multiple places and then ripping through the skin. Well, maybe taking a line drive off the dome, but I wanted to pick one that could happen in every sport. So yeah, compound open fracture.
Depends on how much disposable income you have. If I'm ever at the point in my life where I could afford to do such a thing, I'd have no problem doing that. It gives money back to the school I love and my name gets to be a part of something that might (but probably won't) outlive me. And that's always pretty cool. Could the money be better spent? Yup. But that's a different argument entirely.
It's definitely a difficult situation that requires looking at all the details. Does Darius have a history of incidents like this? Why did he run from the cops? Did he learn something from this ordeal? The underage drinking aspect of it doesn't bother me at all. He's 20 years old. He should be able to drink. But he should also be smart enough not to run from the cops or put himself in that kind of situation.
With this being his first (public) incident, I don't think the punishment should be anything too severe. Kicking him off the roster would be draconian and short-sighted. I'd make him sit through an alcohol counseling class or two and he would be running his ass off in the gym. At most, bench him for the first game or two. Anything more than that feels like a good amount of overkill. If he messes up again, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
An email from Scott-
What does it say about your basketball program when your head coach leaves to take over Tulsa? And that coach confirms that he's leaving to your AD via text message? On a somewhat related note, would it be possible to spend the entire summer talking about how bad Missouri basketball is going to be?
It certainly doesn't say anything good. Mike Rutherford wrote a fantastic article about the insanity that is Frank Haith and Tom got in a pretty nice dig at our rival's expense:
@Champaign_Room Illinois hires coaches from Tulsa, Missouri coaches leave for it.
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) April 17, 2014
It's definitely strange days for Mizzou fans. They're thrilled that Haith is finally gone, but where does that leave them? They're not a destination job, so the dreams of hiring Shaka Smart or Gregg Marshall are hilarious pipe dreams at best. Hell, they're not even in the shape the Illini were when we hired Groce out of Ohio. We at least fired Weber. Haith left of his own volition to go coach at a much, much smaller school with far less prestige. That's not a good look. Unless they hit a homerun with their hire, it's looking like the Braggin' Rights Trophy will be staying on the right side of the river for the foreseeable future.
What band would you pay anything to see? #askTCR
— Tony Gallo (@firet92) April 22, 2014
I don't know that there's really any band or musical artist I would pick. If a time machine could be involved, it might be Wu-Tang back before ODB died. I've seen them since, but it's practically impossible to get to a show where every member is actually there.
Then there's the fact that most bands sound worse live. Without the magic of the studio, anything inherently complex just sounds awful in a live venue and that's not how I'd like the spend my money. I think the New Pornographers would probably put on a pretty damn good live show, as would the Walkmen. So I'd have to pick either of those bands.
The highest I could see Jonathan Brown going is the 6th round, but that won't happen. I do believe he'll be drafted, but it won't be until the 7th round. And if he isn't, then he'll be quickly snatched up as an UFA. I love Brown, but he's definitely undersized for the next level. He could be a solid backup with time and a good special teams guy though, so he'll likely get a chance.
As a Bears fan, I was actually happy they lost to the Packers in the final game of the regular season. There was no way they were going to do anything in the playoffs, so why not get the much higher draft pick? If you're not at least making it to your conference championship game, the playoffs really don't mean anything.
I'm still trying to get over how much fun it is that the Bears don't need to use one of their first two picks on offense for the first time in forever. And it just happened to happen in a draft full of impact defensive talent! I just worry about the alarming trend in mock drafts that has QBs falling, as I think that might cost the Bears Aaron Donald, the player I would love them to draft. The line still needs improvement and he would be a great anchor for a long time. If he's gone, I want Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Ra'Shede Hageman in that order. Whichever area isn't addressed in the first round should be in the second.
The answer for now has to be Groce. Beckman is moving his team forward, but more incrementally and he had to break it down before he could rebuild. Groce had talent to work with and it's easier to goose a basketball team back into contention than a football squad. Roster size makes a great deal of difference.
If Beckman makes a bowl game this season, which I do believe he should, the gap narrows. Groce will still be on top and likely will remain there, but I do think Beckman is righting the ship. This season is his chance to prove that. He's fixed the discipline issues that existed in the Zook regime and he's started rebuilding team depth. For all the heralded four and five stars Zook landed (and actually stayed eligible or with the program), he completely ignored the depth charts and that bit the last two years' teams in their asses.
Groce has struck out on a couple very high profile recruits, but the fact that he's even in the conversation for them that late in the game is a huge improvement over late era Bruce Weber. There's an energy in the recruiting that hadn't been there in a long time and that makes things far more palatable for fans and recruits.
Northwestern kind of wins by default, which sucks. Have you ever interacted with a Wildcats fan in person? I have not. That's not a joke. I have literally never met anyone whose primary college rooting interest is Northwestern other than on the internet. And with very few exceptions (looking at you Roger Sherman), they're a pretty boorish bunch that relies heavily on the same lame and uncreative jokes. But when you get down to it, what is there to hate other than them? Their basketball team is a long-running punchline that, unlike our mercurial football team, never has a good season. Their football team is firmly entrenched in the middle tier of the conference.
I really wanted Mizzou added to the conference so that Illinois could finally have a conference rival that makes sense and already has a trophy built into it. If we ever start playing Iowa again on a regular enough basis, maybe the hate will come back. But it's going to take some time.
Since I'm not allowed to pick the obvious answer of Dick Butkus (and seriously, why doesn't he have a statue yet?), I'm going to cheat and pick two statues. Jim Grabowski would definitely get one. The man retired as the all-time leading rusher in Big Ten history, is in the College Football Hall of Fame, and was the voice of the Illini for about 30 years. It's pretty hard to pick a player more deserving than that (non-Butkus division).
But if I had to pick a different player, I'm going with Simeon Rice. The man was an absolute beast in college, holding Illini team records for sacks in a game (5), in a season (16, tied now with Whitney Mercilus), and for a career (44.5!). That 44.5 gives him the Big Ten record as well, and depending on your sources, the NCAA record. Not bad for a guy no other school wanted because he only played defensive end at the tail of this high school career.