KFHB 29 – Mailbag Part II January 5, 2012
Before we get to the mailbaggery, some thoughts on the basketball game tonight.
1) Good win. Possibly a tourney/no tourney win. We’ll likely lose at home to Ohio State, and probably Michigan State, so we need to balance that out with road wins. (Am I wrong that this is where I’m at with this season right now? Doing weekly bubble math? Maybe I should have more confidence in us to find more road wins in the Big Ten.)
2) We’re a few free throws away from starting 0-3 in the Big Ten. Had Julian Welch iced the Minnesota game when he had a chance, and had Northwestern done better than 60% at the line tonight, we’d be staring at 0-3. Instead, we’re 2-1. There’s your tourney/no tourney line.
3) Is there any way to measure the height of a ball from a video replay? Because I swear the shot that Leonard blocked was at least 13 feet off the ground when he swatted it. How high can Meyers Leonard get on that “jump and hit the highest tab” thingy that they use at the NFL combine? He has to be able to hit 13′, right? 14′?
4) I like Myke Henry’s approach to his (game winning) free throw. I’ll call it the “the more I think about it, the better chance I have at missing it, so as soon as this ref hands me the ball, this free throw is going up” approach. Worked like a charm. Good work, Myke.
5) It’s amazing how much the season tilted on this game for me. At halftime, I was “lose this one and we’re definitely going to lose to Ohio State at home. And then with road trips to Minnesota and Penn State coming up, plus Michigan State at home, there’s a chance we start the Big Ten 4-8. After the win, I’m all “beat Wisconsin and Michigan State at home and win at Minnesota, and we could start the Big Ten 8-4.”
Good win. Always great to beat the nerds. But could we maybe not stand around in the second half and pass the ball around the perimeter with no offensive flow next time? Thanks bye.
It sounds like you made a great connection with Coach Vic. Count me as one of his biggest fans. Can you give us some insight into the man, the myth, the legend that is Coach Koenning? Any interesting tidbits about him, his coaching style, thoughts he shared on players returning, etc?
He’s a humble, confident guy. And extremely generous. He sought me out to make sure I was getting all the coverage I needed every time I saw him, including in the hallway after the postgame press conference. Every time he sought me out, I went through this “here he comes – VIC KOENNING is looking to talk to ME” rock star thing. He was incredibly nice to me the whole week – it was very humbling.
It’s strange – I felt like he was more my friend than the coach I was interviewing this week. And I already hate myself for typing that because it sounds so arrogant and brag-y. But I had several long conversations with him, from after practice to St. Anthony’s to the hallway after the game. Each time he made sure I was having fun and getting all the access I needed.
We talked life. We talked football. We talked the coaching carousel. We talked through the entire 2012 defense. Most of what we talked about I can’t share – I was asked to keep it confident and I will – but I will share a few tidbits on our young players that he shared.
- He was lamenting not getting an opportunity to coach Darrius Caldwell in the next few years. Says he would have been one of the better bandits he’s ever coached (a list that includes Demarcus Ware and Gaines Adams).
- He pointed to Henry Dickinson as a player who will do very well in the future on this defense in whatever scheme the new coordinator runs.
- He said that if Jonathan Brown does exactly what Whitney Mercilus did – get better every single practice for the last 2 years, working harder than any other player on the team – then he can follow in Whitney’s footsteps with all of the postseason accolades he received.
I’m twice as sad now than I was 2 weeks ago that Vic is leaving. I could say it 5 more times but I wouldn’t be able to emphasize enough just how gracious he was to some blogger his wife liked. Thanks, Vic. In 10 years we’ll still be pointing back to 2011 and saying “why can’t this defense be like that one?”
Why the thought that Terry Hawthorne could declare early for the draft? What am I missing because I don’t see him as a successful early entrant (he can have success in the NFL, but leave early)? Is he a CB or a Safety in the NFL? Seems fast but a little stiff. Why leave early to be a 3rd/4th rounder if you’re not a running back?
I’ve heard rumblings as far back as last April at spring ball that Hawthorne was considering one more year and then take a chance on the NFL. (Look and me, ma! I’m insider-y enough to use the word “rumblings”!)
And after a great second half to the season (15 tackles in the Wisconsin game, pick six in the KFHB), I think he’s probably pushed closer to that goal. Personally, I think he needs one more year. Too many injuries in his past to climb the rounds in the draft. One more (healthy) year, and I think he could push up to the high second round in the 2013 draft.
But we might not see that extra year. He’ll kill it at the combine in the speed and agility drills – he’s one of the 10 fastest-in-pads players in Illini history – and he’ll get drafted if he goes. It’s just a matter of whether he wants to return and climb the draft boards next year. Hope he does.
Did you see anything during the KFHB festivities, on the field or off, that might indicate D. Young’s intentions regarding his future with the program? There were some dreaded twitternet rumors that he might be “homesick,” but I found the clip from St. Anthony’s heartening. Is everything fine?
I’ve heard those rumors and discussed them here. I wish they’d die because I wouldn’t be able to stand the thought of this team without Young next year. He’s primed to be The Guy.
But the rumors are there – saying that he’s homesick and whatnot. I’ll say two things:
1) When playing with Jeff Brohm’s kid on the field, I heard him tell the kid “I know you’re dad won’t be here next year, but will you come back and watch me?” (Can I say that? Can I “report” something I overheard on the field? I’m so frightened of breaking the rules that I think I invent rules that don’t exist just to steer clear of them.) Anyway, I found that encouraging, in a could-be-nothing, could-be-everything kind of way.
2) He MUST come back. It would be ridiculous for him to sit out a season when he could be getting 200+ carries starting in September. If he wants to make it to the next level, his best chance is to start showcasing his ability in Memorial Stadium next fall.
And please remember, these are just internet rumors. I’ve heard them, I’ve seen them on Twitter, but they’ve not been reported by anyone credible. Well, I guess I just “reported” them, but believe me, I’m not credible. I’m the guy who hears a rumor like that and texts 10 friends, spreading the rumor like wildfire. The lesson: never trust a blogger. Unless he’s friends with Vic Koenning.