Sunday, April 1, 2012

Once "killed" by Weber, Self back for more

One of my favorite memories of Bruce Weber's first season as Illinois coach was when he tried to get his players' attention by telling them "Bill Self is dead" and staging a mock funeral for the guy who had recruited the players to Champaign.

Weber meant it was a new era, but his crassness caught guff from many media mopes and wasn't easily accepted by the players.

Still, led by Deron Williams, Self's recruits eventually bought into Weber's system. The following season, the Illini were in the national championship game and Weber was celebrated as a fine game coach.

Things steadily went downhill after that title loss to North Carolina, though, and Weber finally was fired a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Self won the 2008 title with Kansas.

Saturday, the same day Self was leading Kansas back to another championship game, Weber was introduced as the new coach at Kansas State. Enthusiasm for Weber's hire was, shall we say, less than full throttle.

I got to know Weber fairly well and consider him a good man. However, his brutal honesty, screechy voice and decided uncoolness are sure to turn off K-State players the same way those traits turned off Illini players.

Of course, compared to in-your-face screamer Frank Martin, Weber probably will be received well in the near term by the players.

At the very least, he probably won't need to stage Martin's mock funeral.


Speaking of the national title game ...

I simply can't imagine Kansas beating Kentucky, which is superior at every position and has more depth.

I'm calling it Wildcats 72, Jayhawks 59, with freakish Anthony Davis getting most-outstanding-player honors.

Yeah, I'm really going out on the limb there.


It was great that CBS and the other networks involved employed the remarkable Marv Albert (with the extremely knowledgeable Steve Kerr) during the tournament. I wish Albert had been allowed to do the Final Four, too.

Jim Nantz is a solid pro, and Kerr is back along with superb Clark Kellogg. But Marv is simply the best basketball announcer ever to walk the earth.

As for Kellogg, he did an outstanding job calling games involving both his alma mater (Ohio State) and his son (who plays for Ohio). His restraint was admirable.

Plus, he occasionally invents a word, such as when he called a less-heralded Kentucky player "undersung."

Gotta love that.

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