Friday, February 13, 2009

Wildcat Choke Job, Bulls A Mess

Ouch. (Photo thanks to AP) So I worked last night, and set up Illinois vs. Northwestern on DVR for later, but by the time I got off I couldn't resist checking the score. 8 minutes left. NU up 51-41. Oh man! So we hustled down to Scotty's, where it took almost ten minutes to get ESPN2 on one of the TVs... meanwhile I'm anxiously checking the bottom line scoring updates on regular ESPN as NU stays up ten, 57-47, with four minutes and change left, then it just crept closer and closer and closer. Ugh. We finally got the right channel on with 14.7 left to play. Just in time to watch Demetri McCamey finish off the 'Cats with a driving floater off glass. 60 to 59, final score. The 'Cats led by nine with two minutes left, and didn't score again. Are you kidding me??

Above, you see Michael Thompson being stripped by Illinois' Trent Meachem, who finished with 15 points last night. Thompson is my personal goat for this loss, though there is plenty of blame to go around. If you look at ESPN's Photo Gallery, you can also see his superb defense on McCamey's game-clincher. NU could not handle the Illini's pressure in the last couple of minutes and was forced to waste timeout after timeout trying to get the ball up the floor. Craig Moore finished with four turnovers. Coble and Luca Mirkovic played well with fourteen points apiece, but it is becoming pretty clear that the Wildcats may not have the confidence you need to win big games like this one reliably. NU had this game as good as won, and somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Ouch.

In other news, it looks like John Paxson ... well, what is he doing? The Bulls continue to struggle, losing in almost Northwestern-esque style last night to Shawn Marion and the Heat (Marion is now on his way to the Raptors in exchange for injury-prone Jermaine O'Neal). Is Pax staying or going? Apparently, Peter Vecsey first broke the 'news' of his departure yesterday, but Chairman Jerry says he isn't going anywhere. The Sun-Times, that paragon of quality news, is running with the story and reporting that the GM is in fact on his way out the door.

In earlier interviews, it seemed like Reinsdorf really was blaming rookie coach Vinny Del Negro for the Bulls' crap season. Here's the problem. You guys decided to hire a coach with zero head coaching experience, and hand him a young rudderless team. What did you honestly expect? We might have been better off with Kirk Hinrich or Lindsay Hunter player-coaching the squad. Poor Vinny needs some time to get his NBA sea legs under him, so to speak. And Pax really, really needs to pull the trigger on a major trade before February 19th. Go get Amare. Do something. This season does not have to end in disaster. Chicago is 23-30, 10th in the East, and could still easily sneak into the playoffs.

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