<
>

3-point shot: Illinois in a free fall

1.Illinois coach Bruce Weber said Friday he wasn’t going to quit on this team and the players hadn’t either. Weber still hasn’t stopped coaching. But the team clearly isn’t responding to his voice. The complete meltdown at Nebraska was a strong indicator. Illinois is in sudden free fall and it looks like it will be increasingly difficult to stop the slide and avoid a $3.9 million change. If this happens, then first on the list for athletic director Mike Thomas will likely be VCU’s Shaka Smart, who would be wise to consider one of the plum jobs in the country. And if this domino falls, then a Valley school should welcome back Weber with open arms.

2.The more I watch Isaiah Canaan of Murray State, the more I see Kemba Walker-like characteristics. That doesn’t mean Murray State is going to win the national title or even come close. But Canaan has similar leadership skills that can lead the Racers to a few good wins in the NCAA tournament. Remember, Walker didn’t have the best shooting percentage and made some overly aggressive penetrating turnovers, too. Canaan should be a good watch in March.

3.I hope the selection committee was paying attention Saturday. If you watched Long Beach State, Creighton, Drexel and Wichita State you would agree that these are four tournament-level teams that could win games in the NCAAs. And this will be the problem going forward if a few were on the bubble (I don’t see the Shockers in that predicament). You can’t tell me that you’re more impressed watching Seton Hall or Connecticut of late (especially against Louisville) more than these four. These four teams will make the tournament a better watch and shouldn’t be out if they continue to take care of business ahead.