Nichol(s) Slots: Weber Grilled Edition

If Bruce Weber had any idea what was coming his way, he could have looked at former Illini football coach Ron Zook as his precursor. More on Weber’s firing and other goodies in another Nichol(s) Slots.

Weber Grilled 

The speculation of Weber’s demise is finally reality over at U of I, as Weber was fired from his coaching duties Friday morning.

Weber’s release doesn’t come as a shock. The Illini went 2-12 after starting off the season 15-3 and a first day exit in the Big Ten tourney probably concluded matters for Weber, who had looked worn out in his position as coach of Illinois.

Weber leaves Champaign after nine seasons. He helped lead the Illini to the 2005 National Championship game, in which they lost the title to North Carolina, 75-70.

Since then, Weber’s teams have been mediocre at-best, only winning two NCAA tournament games in that span.

Weber went 210-101 in his career at Illinois, including an 89-64 record in the Big Ten.

In a way, even though it was time to part ways, you have to feel sorry for Weber, who’s a great guy and I believe one of the five best coaches in college basketball. It wasn’t the fact that Illinois couldn’t win under Weber. In fact, I think Weber was the right coach for the Illini, especially for the 2004-2005 team that went to the National Championship.

But Weber’s success came in part to the recruiting of Bill Self. When it came time for Weber to build his own program,  Weber just didn’t have the command in the recruiting process to make Illinois a powerhouse, like Self continues to do at Kansas.

Weber coddled players. Some never reached potential and it proved in the Big Ten standings.

Weber will find a job soon. And I hope he does because you won’t find a better coach or guy who does things the right way — which in some instances hurt him on the recruiting trail. But B-Web will be back, I’ll promise you that.

Bulls lose, Deng needs rest, Howard? 

The Bulls 8-game winning streak came to end last night with their loss to Orlando at the UC and I hope the Bulls take the day off to work on their defense, which was just absolutely horrible the last two games. Luol Deng told reporters his wrist is acting up and after watching Deng the past two games, that appears to be the reason why he wasn’t so sharp.

One thing that bothered me was how many 3-point shots Kyle Korver took in the fourth quarter last night. He missed six-straight and I realize that when he gets an open shot he has to take it, but the Bulls didn’t need threes down the stretch and if Korver hadn’t chucked so many of them, the Bulls, who played poorly in my mind, would have continued the streak. That’s not the ultimate reason why the Bulls lost, but the Bulls came back and had a two-point lead late and only if you’re down do you start chucking threes. Go to the basket, get fouled.

Derrick Rose, please make your free throws.

As for the Dwight Howard trade rumors, I’m with Rose: I’m sick of hearing about it. It wouldn’t be wise to pass up a trade for Howard, but the Bulls are better off with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer.

Howard to me isn’t even the best center in the game. That accolade goes to Lakers center Andrew Bynum. Howard has won a couple defensive player of the year awards and when assertive can be scary. There’s no question in the low post defensively, he’s one of the best. He rebounds, blocks shots, disrupts any sort of penetration. But his low post game is still in limbo and do you give up the house and the barn for him? Is Taj Gibson apart of the deal? Luol Deng? Do we do a Carmelo Anthony and risk so much? Wait the few months and if you amnesty Boozer and sign him in the summer, that’s when I’d make a move for Howard.

But Orlando needs to trade Howard now, so I can stop hearing about this whole saga.

Manning Manning Manning 

Dolphins? Cardinals? Seahawks? Broncos? Manning will let the world know next week and this is a decision that will actually be handled properly, unlike some others athletes.

Imagine if he goes to Miami for the last three years of his career… Could he do what Dan Marino never did for the city of Miami and win a Super Bowl? Although I think Seattle is a great destination and Pete Carroll would love to have him, Miami looks to be the best destination for him. He has a house there, Reggie Wayne is going on radio shows talking about how great it would be to play with Brandon Marshall. It got Wayne all excited, which makes me wonder if him and Manning have thought this through.

But wherever Manning goes, Wayne will follow. That’s loyalty, Indianapolis.

The Bears are reportedly going to make a pitch for wide receiver Vincent Jackson — which is a good start — but they need to go deeper. Signing Jackson is one thing. Getting another receiver besides Jackson to go with Earl Bennett would make the Bears serious contenders at least on the offensive side with Matt Forte healthy in the backfield.

Mike Wallace is still my favorite but it’s highly unlikely he’ll sign with Chicago. And as long as Drew Brees is the quarterback in New Orleans, you’d have to think Marques Colston is staying. Robert Meachem would be a nice alternative and Randy Moss is looking good so far in his comeback bid. But who wants Moss at his age and two studs at WR would be my wish this spring. Jackson and someone like Laurent Robinson or Mario Manningham would be ideal.

If Bears GM Phil Emery does pursue defensive end Mario Williams, what a defensive line the Bears would have. But this is wishful thinking and if the team decides to uses its mint inside of Halas Hall, they might want to fix that secondary and use the draft to find future replacements for Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, who aren’t getting any younger.

High school hoops

Here’s hopes that Elgin’s boys basketball team can take down a tough, tough Rockford Auburn squad in the Class 4A Dundee-Crown sectional final tonight at 7:30 p.m. Kory Brown is a flat-out stud and this is the game him, Arie Williams, Dennis Moore and the Maroons need to have the game of their lives up to this point. My colleague Jerry Fitzpatrick has all your Elgin info here. My money is on Elgin and coach Mike Sitter and his group will go all out tonight. Good luck to Elgin!

Random stuff 

1. It was brought to my attention that the Air Jordan 12 will appear on shelves April 21. Next to the Air Jordan 11, who people stabbed and pepper sprayed over during Christmas, in my opinion this is the next best Jordan out there.

2. Is it just me or the Big Ten tournament needs to go back to the United Center?

3. Does anybody like Doug Gottlieb on ESPN? Jay Williams giving him some heat was great. And no, I don’t like Gottlieb.

4. I still can’t believe Hawk Harrelson does a play-by-play. I can’t wait till “he gone.”

5. Gas prices are over $4 a gallon. I remember when I used to fill up my Honda Civic for a little over $10. Now it’s over $40. If I hear complaints that you pay more — that’s not my fault. Buy a better fuel efficient vehicle. At least I’m smart by saving money.

6. Five Guys in Crystal Lake is coming soon and I can not wait to take a bite out of their double cheeseburger. Still, the best sandwich in town is Nicks’ meatball sub.

7. I’m getting closer and closer to purchasing the iPhone. The question is, do I upgrade the computer to a Lenovo, or a MacBook pro? I’m torn. I’m not a Mac geek or a zombie, but I am impressed with Apple’s technology.

8. Anybody buy Cubs tickets today? Good grief are they expensive. You have to take out another student loan to buy tickets over there.

9. Has anybody seen Project X yet? Is it anything like I think it is, and that’s Superbad, the Hangover and Bachelor Party all combined?

10. Goose Island 312 beer in a can is pretty darn cool. And it’s being released on 3-12. Go figure. That’s my nephew’s birthday as well.

And lastly, the bracket comes out Sunday for the NCAA tourney. I have no idea what the field will provide this season — I’m not expecting much — but the I’ll release my bracket on here next week before the tournament starts. And if you know me, regardless of not watching college ball all year, I’ll be glued to the tournament like every other year.

So get your thinking caps on and let’s get on with the Madness!

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