Archive for February 20, 2006

Links for President’s Day:

1) Bonds: I’m Done After ’06, Unless I’m Not – Could you please go away, already?

2) Davis: Angry, or Just Focused? – Only a guy from the South Side of Chicago would have a chip on his shoulder and be in a foul mood with Melissa Stark right after winning a gold medal.  I know how it feels: I have White Sox Fan Disease, too.

3) It’s Luck of Route with Tolls – An analysis of how much each of the tollroads in the Chicagoland area cost drivers on a per-mile basis.  A hint on what’s the most expensive tollway: I’ve really been screwed by having to drive from Naperville to the Woodfield area around Schaumburg for each of the last 3 weekends.

4) Brown Line Closings Begin Today – One benefit of being back in the suburbs: I don’t have to take the Brown Line anymore because it’s going to suck for the next three years.

5) A First-Time Oscar Host in Search of That Fine Line – I’m looking forward to Jon Stewart being this year’s Oscar host, but I’m also a little worried that it sounds like he wants to turn it down a notch from Chris Rock’s performance last year.

And finally…

6) Trump to Stewart: ‘Take Responsibility’ – Awww, snap!!!  Looks like there’s a major beef between the Donald and Martha.

You’ve probably seen by now the footage of Lindsay Jacobellis showboating before the end of the snowboard cross event at the Olympics and blowing a sure-fire gold medal(sidenote: I’m not really into the X-Gamesification of the Olympics, but I’ve got to say that the snowboard cross is an awesome event.  “Incidental” contact is allowed while snowboarders have to jump hills and ride out sharp curves in a race with a clear winner – that’s stuff a traditional sports fan like myself will watch).  Minnesota Red Sox wondered why she seemed completely unfazed by the unbelievable choke job (other than the use of weed).

Here’s why: this was the best thing Jacobellis could have possibly done for her career.  If Jacobellis had simply won the gold medal, she would have just been another American who dominated yet another X-Games-style snowboarding event and be forgotten after the Olympics were over.  By blowing the gold medal in such spectacular fashion, however, Jacobellis has become a household name with her story plastered across the front page of every newspaper in the United States.  Her image is also going to run on ESPN Classic next to shots of Leon Lett and Greg Norman until the end of time.

At the very least, Jacobellis can parlay her fame (or infamy) into a boxing match on Fox with Tonya Harding in the next ten years.  That’s more attention than a snowboarder could ever hope for.

It’s always a good feeling to beat up on Indiana, even if the Hoosiers are having a down year.  What was even better about the 70-58 Illinois victory yesterday over Indiana was that this was the most complete and consistent game that the Illini have played in quite a while.  Although the margin of victory doesn’t indicate a blowout, Illinois dominated the entire game and didn’t have any lapse where the Hoosiers could start a run.

Plus, the Illini big men stepped up with perimeter shooter Jamar Smith out serving a suspension for an undisclosed indiscretion and the rest of the team shooting only 3 of 17 from three-point range.  With James Augustine leading the charge, Illinois scored 40 points in the paint.  That’s something we need to see more of for the home stretch of the regular season and into the NCAA Tournament.  We actually have a size advantage on most teams this year (in contrast to our guard-laden team last season), so we’ve got to capitalize on all of the mismatches in our favor down low every game.

The Big Ten race continues to be wild, as pointed out by Skip Myslenski of the Chicago Tribune, and the coaching situation caused by Mike Davis’ decision to resign from Indiana at the conclusion of the season is adding the proverbial fuel to the fire.  Considering some of the names being thrown around by Indiana fans as head coaching candidates, it seems as though Hoosier basketball fans are as delusional as Notre Dame football fans.  I’ve already said that Steve Alford would be nuts to take the job, but Thad Matta of Ohio State???  Matta has one of the greatest recruiting classes in the history of college basketball coming to Columbus next season.  Of course, there’s a segment of the wacky Indiana fan base that probably truly believes that Matta would jump at the chance to move to Bloomington and bring in Phil Jackson and Pat Riley as his assistant coaches.  To Hoosier fans: get over yourselves – your glory years ended two decades ago, so your rich history will only go so far in attracting the best coaches and players today.

Enough with the past of Indiana; let’s look at the present and future of Big Ten basketball with Illinois.  All games until the end of the season are going to be big with such a close conference race, but this is going to be a pivotal week in particular for the Fighting Illini.  The Super Tuesday game at Michigan is a must-win for both teams – for Illinois in order to keep pace for a shot at the Big Ten title and for Michigan to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive.  Muck Fichigan is going to come in fire-up in front of their home crowd, so this is a dangerous game for the Illini.  If we can get past the Wolverines, that would set up a showdown for first place with Iowa at the Assembly Hall on Saturday for the biggest game of the regular season to date.  With only two more games after that (tough road games at Minnesota and Michigan), whether Illinois can win its third straight Big Ten championship is likely going to be decided this week.