Thursday, March 4, 2010

Illinois' daddy issues

Somewhere between making off-the-wall analogies and praising Evan Turner, Steve Lavin commended his broadcast partner, Dave O'Brien, on the way he and his wife raised their kids.

Through the exchange he evoked the name of John Wooden (not the first time) and extolled the virtues of presenting an example of leadership as coach. The point, if I remember correctly, was that if you want to stymie your players' youthful immaturity, you must not be given to such fits yourself. Did the official send the other team to the line for the 24th time? Whining about it isn't going to help. Hustle back on defense. If your the coach, keep a cool head.

Lavin was speaking in general, but it didn't take much to connect his comment with his old colleague's behavior. Inadvertent or not, it may have been the best point Lavin made all night. Does Bruce Weber's courtside manner rub off on his players? Does it kill their desire to play for him?

Weber spent most of the game with his arms crossed tightly over his "Chicago gangster suit" (Lavin's words), pacing the sideline with his trademark scowl. At one point in the second half Ohio State applied full-court press (a fool-proof way to extend your lead against Illinois) and D.J. Richardson telegraphed a pass close to mid-court. Some Buckeye read it, intercepted the pass and took it back for a dunk. Somehow the ball ended up at Weber's feet. He picked it up and whipped it back at the basket in disgust. Like little kid at the playground. At a game earlier this season (Gonzaga?), the cameras caught Weber ramming his elbows into the backs of the chairs on either side of him. (Luckily Richard Semrau was sitting much farther down the bench.)

It's only a matter of time before he develops a comb-over, rips off his suit jacket and flails it behind the bench. He's that close to becoming Gene Keady.

How can he ask his players to maintain composure on the court when he reacts like this to mistakes? He's demanding 35 minutes apiece from four of his starters and freaks out like a pre-teen with delusions of entitlement when they make a bad pass. Can you imagine practice?

Of course it's difficult to say whether this matter would have an effect on actual production. Would Richardson make better passes? Would our defenders foul less? Would Mike Davis have put down either of his dunk attempts?

A fiery quality is great in a coach, maybe necessary. But does Tom Izzo need to be told to stay in his box every time down the court? I wonder if the example Weber is portraying is wearing on his team, especially this late in the season.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I don't know what effects the players or not. But the thing I find really interesting is how much Bruce's demeanor has changed since he got here.
    I know it is easier to be calm and collected when your team is awesome, but he argues a lot more with refs and his more emotional on the sideline now then when he was starting out.

    I really believe that he feels the intense pressure to win and his increased sideline antics are a result.
    He has almost aged like a President since 06.
    Look at his hair color pre-Brian Randle and post-Brian Randle.


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