That’s what Kelvin Sampson heard for much of tonight’s game. The Illini fans taunted coach Sampson for not calling Bruce Weber when coveted recruit Eric Gordon started waffling on his oral commitment to Illinois. Somebody should have called the IU offense because it left the arena shortly after tipoff and it never returned. The Hoosiers began the game by draining seven of their first ten shots; after that it was one wrong number after another.Much was made of Kelvin Sampson “stealing” stud recruit Eric Gordon from Bruce Weber’s Illini. The only thing Sampson is guilty of is poor etiquette. Yes, he owed Weber a phone call; a phone call explaining that Gordon wanted out of his oral commitment to Illinois in order to play his college ball in the real Assembly Hall. You know, the Assembly Hall that has five national championship banners hanging from the rafters. Sampson should have called. The irony is that here is a guy who was slapped with NCAA sanctions because he racked up an obscene number of minutes to recruits. Evidently his troubles have caused him to become nervous around the telephone.
But Samspon didn’t steal Gordon. The North Central star only committed to Weber last year because of all the uncertainty surrounding IU’s program, and the young man was right. Mike Davis resigned before the season was over. Gordon had no idea who would be hired to take the helm of the once powerful program. (Too bad IU hasn’t been a major player in the NCAA since Gordon was in diapers.) With the swift hiring of Kelvin Sampson, and with the return of all the players except for Vaden and whatshisname from Europe (really, I can’t remember his name) Gordon realized that he’d much rather be in Bloomington than Champaign.
I wish he was there now.
The anemic offense that was on display this evening is in desperate need of Gordon’s skills. The Illini were up 49-40, not at the half, but with 20.9 seconds left in the game; one point a minute. Pathetic.
Don’t misunderstand me. I like what Sampson has done with this team, and I think that he will restore some of the shine to this rusty and dusty program. This was his first “bad loss”, however, and after beating an athletic UCONN squad in Hartford, and after cracking into the Top 25 in both polls, being beat down by a weak Illinois team is unimpressive. About as unimpressive as one point a minute.
Is anyone else tired of seeing DJ White with the ball 30′ from the basket? Is anyone else tired of the team launching a three every other time down the floor? Sure, it’s great when they go down, but when they don’t…well, you get one point a minute.
Just once, I’d love to see Wilmont curl off a White screen in the lane for either a 12 footer or a pass to White as he rolled to the hoop.
That will happen about as soon as Sampson finds Weber’s phone number.