Saturday, March 26, 2005

His Orval Faubus Moment....

I'm so glad it is march madness season. Otherwise, I'd be getting myself worked up over Jeb Bush's complete and utter lack of respect for, among other things, the sanctity of marriage and the federal Constitution. Jeb, like Orval Faubus, Bull Connor and George Wallace, tried to use state law enforcement to disobey the orders of the federal courts. His use of the Schiavo case for political grandstanding is sickening.
Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo wasn't to be removed from her hospice, a team of Florida law enforcement agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted - but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Miami Herald has learned. Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding. For a brief period, local police, who have officers around the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called a showdown. In the end, the state agents and the Department of Children and Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.
What's worse, Jeb's irresponsible actions not only ignored the federal decisions in the case, but also the state courts' decisions with respect to the right of a husband to exercise authority over medical decisions for his wife. Luckily, cooler heads have prevailed and the Florida Stasi decided not to violate federal and state law to "seize" Ms. Schiavo. One issue that this incident raises is whether, in an extreme situation, W would order federal assets to enforce the orders of the federal courts. That the answer to this is not obviously yes is troubling to me.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bruce Weber: Naismith Award Winner

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that the Atlanta Tipoff Club will name Bruce Weber the Naismith Coach of the Year.

Bruce Weber, who led Illinois to a No. 1 national ranking and a No. 1 tournament seed, is the Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club will announce today. Weber already was named Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading Illinois to its second consecutive conference title.
Congratulations, Coach Weber!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Shyam Reddy for Georgia Secretary of State

My friend and colleague, Shyam Reddy, is running for Georgia Secretary of State. Shyam has been an associate at my firm for the past several years. He is smart, articulate and forthright. Go Shyam!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Open Mic Night

There's an eye (ear?) -opening discussion among Illinois media types about the Pearl and Deon Thomas issue. Apparently, somebody forgot to turn a mic off during the media luncheon and several folks with memories dating back to the early 1990s can be heard discussing the matter. Here's the link to the Real Audio file. Pearl, Booby Knight and others are implicated in what sounds somewhat like conference-wide animosity to Lou Henson's recruiting practices. The first 25 minutes or so comprise the Illinois presser, after that, it's lots of fun.

Update: The audio has been cut down so as to remove the offending discussion. Too bad.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bruce Pearl

Taylor Bell and Clyde Travis of the Chicago Sun-Times explain why the Illini Nation hates Bruce Pearl. Deon Thomas was one of the most coveted recruits in the nation, coming out of Chicago's Simeon High School in 1989. Iowa and Illinois competed mightily for his letter of intent. Bell and Travis write "we were closer to it than any other journalists. We taped an exclusive two-hour conversation with Thomas, gave depositions to attorneys representing Illinois, did extensive background checks on other key figures involved in the controversy and wondered why the NCAA never bothered to probe into Thomas' allegations of Pearl's improprieties."

To Illini fans, this investigation knocked the program from its national power track back into the Big Ten's backwaters. I entered the University just after the NCAA placed Illinois on probation. Looking back through the lens of law school, it is pretty clear to me that the NCAA's role was that of Rev. John Hale from The Crucible, not that of an even-handed investigator searching for the truth. The NCAA found no merit in Pearl's accusations, but slapped Illinois with sanctions anyway, for "lack of institutional control."

And, as Bell and Travis note, the NCAA never investigated Iowa's part in this saga. This, despite the fact that Iowa was paying Thomas' classmate to report on his every move. Despite Thomas' claim that Pearl took him and his teammates around town in Amsterdam and paid for lunch. And despite Thomas' claim that Pearl offered to double whatever Thomas got from Illinois. No investigation of Iowa at all.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Differences of Opinion

In article Mark Tupper writes that Illinois' Coach Weber and Nevada's Coach Fox had a few differences of opinion on why Illinois beat Nevada to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Tupper writes:
Maybe defense isn't everything

Illinois held Nevada to 37 percent shooting and frustrated Wolf Pack center Nick Fazekas, the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year, into 5-of-20 shooting.

Not all impressive apparently.
Well, KU did hold Nevada to 28% shooting, so maybe Coach Fox has a point.

Moving on....

Image hosted by


Here are some of my random thoughts after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament:
  • It's not something the team should be particularly proud of, but Illinois seems to be playing about 10-12 points better than its competition. That's fine because a 10-12 point margin of victory's not such a bad thing. But it is troublesome because Wisconsin is better than Nevada, who is better than Minnesota, who is better than Penn State, who is better than Fairleigh Dickinson. Yet, the margin in each of those games was between 10 and 12 points. I hope the team really does know its throttle, and won't find itself in a hole with no gas in the tank. (In other words, I hope we that the team has the appropriate amount of motivation to come out against a very good but totally unknown Wisconsin-Milwaukee team. If we come out an play like we did against FDU, we're toast. If we come out and play like we did against Nevada, we're in a dogfight. If we come out and play like we did against Bucky, we should win.)
  • Speaking of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I hope the team realizes how much the Illinois fanbase despises UW-M coach and former Iowa assistant Bruce Pearl.
  • Surprises:
    • The overall strength of the non-major conference teams. I mean, Bucknell beat preseason number one Kansas, for goodness sake! Even the teams that lost in the first round showed plenty of pluck. Illinois was only up by a point on FDU at halftime. Delaware State kept within arm's reach of Duke for a goodly portion of the game. And, as we all know, UWM, Vermont and the aforementioned Bison all won.
    • The weakness of the Big East. Six Big East teams made the tournament, but only two remain.
    • The strength of the Big Ten. Five teams in the tournament. Three remain. Same as the ACC.
    • West Virginia. I thought Pittsnogle and crew would be done in by Dana Altman's Blue Jays. Oops!
    • N.C. State. I thought the 'Pack would find themselves Sendek'd much earlier.
    • Texas Tech. I'm not a Bobby Knight fan, but I am pleasantly surprised by his bringing the boys from Lubbock to the Sweet Sixteen.
  • Non-surprises:
    • Wake Forest's flameout. I bet a friend a steak dinner that Duke would last longer in the tournament than the _eamon _eacons. What's bizarre is that the friend is a Duke grad. Let this be a lesson to everybody: teams that don't play defense do not advance very far in the NCAA tournament.
    • North Carolina's dominance. North Carolina will absolutely kill teams that don't have the kinds of athletes it does. However, it will be bothered by athletic teams that play smart basketball and defense. In other words, look for them to have some trouble in the Elite Eight or Final Four, but not before. The 'Heels are still not where Roy needs them to be in the defense and decisionmaking departments. I wonder if they'll get there this year. If they do, they'll win it all. If they don't, not so much.
    • James Augustine. Auggie has been a quiet stud for Illinois this year, overshadowed, it seems, by the three guards and Rev. Powell. In the background, Augustine won two Big Ten Player of the Week Awards and was named a third team All Big Ten selection. Lately, however, he's gotten loud. Augustine was named MVP of the Big Ten Tournament. He dunks with authority, yelling and pumping his fist as he lands. And, against Nevada, he shot 9 for 11, scoring 23 points, had two blocks and four steals.
I can't wait till next week!