Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hawks Fail to Add Major Piece at Deadline

The trade deadline in any professional sport is a day consisting of a flurry of rumors, phone calls, and the overpowering stench of desperation. GM's know that this is the day, fair or not, that can define the rest of the season. It can get a GM fired or keep him on board for another year. And in the NHL especially, a sport with no equal in how quickly managers can be hired and fired, succeeding on the trade deadline is an important thing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Neal Commitment Comes at Right Time for Irish

Nearly three weeks after National Signing Day had ended, there were still those who were glum about the way things finished for the Fighting Irish. They had lost two highly ranked players, Ronald Darby and Taylor Decker, to Florida State and Ohio State respectively. To make matters worse, 5 star receiver Deontay Greenberry pulled an absolute shocker and switched to Houston on Signing Day. And on top of that, a few prospects that Notre Dame was after chose to go elsewhere.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is This Hawk's Surge Real?

Just a week ago, panic had set into the entire Hawks fan base. The Hawks were playing their worst hockey of the season, essentially nosediving from a great start to ultimately fighting hard for a playoff spot. The defense and goaltending was a mess, and the Hawks offense was in such a deep funk that it couldn't bail them out. Then, suddenly, the Hawks exploded against the New York Rangers, dumping four goals on them in the first period, setting the stage for an easy win against a top team. From there, the Hawks notched an easy win over NHL doormat Columbus and a tough, gritty, defensive/goaltending won battle against hated rival St. Louis. The Hawks have looked like their old selves in the midst of their mini winning streak, but therein lies the question:  are these Hawks here to stay?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Nail in Weber's Coffin

Well, that about does it. Illinois' loss to Purdue last night all but ensures that Bruce Weber will be sent packing after the season is over. Last night's game embodied everything we've seen from the Illini last season: lazy first half play, bad passing, lack of execution, a second half surge that comes up short, turnovers, bad shot selection, etc. It was nice to see the Illini play uptempo in the second half, utilizing the athletes on the team and just letting them play basketball instead of worrying about them executing Weber's offense. You even saw Weber throw in a little zone defense, something he NEVER does, with a mix of some triangle-and-2 defense on a couple possessions in the second half. But in the end, the effort came up short, as it seemingly always does for Illinois, and Weber's fate (and Illinois' tournament chances) is practically sealed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's Next for the Hawks: Is this Rock Bottom Yet?

Is this seriously happening? Is the chatter surrounding the Blackhawks, in the midst of a 9 game losing streak, really considering the firing of Joel Quenneville? Well, that's what it's come to. For a team that was at the top of the Western Conference standings a month ago, it's unfathomable. But as the Hawks keep piling up loss after loss after loss, in a fashion unbecoming of an elite club, Coach Q's seat is only going to get warmer.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pushing the Hawks Panic Button

Where do we start? The Hawks are in a free fall, piling up loss after loss in a steady dive from the top of the standings to potentially fighting for a playoff spot. The way the losses have come, after such a sustained period of success, has been nothing short of devastating. But really, the problems leading to this "slump" have been here since the Hawks Stanley Cup season of 09-10. Bad defense, no offensive depth, and weak goaltending. The only difference is that the Hawks have finally reached the point where the great "core" cannot hold off the glaring weaknesses under the surface.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Illinois Basketball: Approaching the End of an Era?

It pains me to write this, but it might be time for a new direction and new leadership in Champaign. I've liked Bruce Weber as a coach and a person for his entire tenure at Illinois, but the stagnant and perennially mediocre status of the Illinois basketball program has gone too far. In the last month alone, Illinois has beaten Ohio State, then lost to Penn State, beaten Michigan State, then lost to Northwestern. With fans and key boosters leaving in droves, there may be no alternative but to look for someone else to lead the program - even if it's not all Weber's fault. I hope that somehow, it doesn't have to happen that way, but there may be no other choice.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

National Signing Day Illustrates the Dirty Business that is College Football

Recruiting is a dirty business, but also necessary to the success of any program. To win in college football, you need to have the best players. Forgetting for a moment the Boise States of the world, the teams that have the best players usually win the most. If you look at the most recent champions, especially Alabama, they typically bring in top 5 recruiting classes every year. As a result, the struggle to recruit and sign kids has turned dirtier each year, as coaches with multimillion dollar contracts try to get to bowl games and championships that in turn make their respective schools and conferences millions of dollars. All of this while these kids are showcased on television as the result of multibillion dollar television contracts. At the end of the day, gone is any notion of amateur athletics, and we forget that the pressures these kids face from these recruiters is unlike that of any other 17 or 18 year old kid graduating from high school and choosing a college.