From the Saturday, Dec. 6, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …
The WISCH LIST
By Dave Wischnowsky
’Tis the season to be jolly.
Especially if you’re Illini football coach Tim Beckman, who somewhat miraculously – check that, completely miraculously – pulled off two late-season Big Ten victories and wriggled his way off the chopping block that felled conference peers Bo Pelini and Brady Hoke.
Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman, on the other hand, is probably more Grinch than giddy right now considering how he’s found his stocking stuffed with lumps of coal – and bad defense – ever since September.
As we hurtle toward the heart of the holiday season, here are a few other thoughts about our local sports scene, covering both the naughty and the nice.
Derrick Rose resurgence?
He once was more beloved around these parts than St. Nick, but these days a lot of Bulls fans don’t very much like Derrick Rose, although I still think they very much want to.
But Rose has to give them a reason.
On Wednesday against the Hornets, the Bulls’ oft-injured point guard scored 15 points as he survived his first back-to-back of 2014 and logged his 11th game overall, one more than his previous two seasons combined. As accomplishments go, that’s about as minor as it gets, but for Rose it was a pretty major feat, although hardly one that deserves a slap on the back. Which, come to think of it, could injure him, so don’t do that.
’Twas night before, however, that I saw Bulls fans – both on TV at the United Center and all over social media – show their first true burst of joy for Rose in ages when he banked in a one-handed three-pointer to force double-overtime against the Mavericks. In that thrilling moment, no one was deriding Rose, but rather just celebrating him.
People want to love you again, Derrick.
But, again, you have to give them reasons.
Wrigley Field renovation
I’m all for Wrigley Field getting a much-needed $300 million overhaul, but not a fan of the massive Jumbotron and advertising signs that the Cubs are preparing to slap up atop the century-old ballpark’s bleachers come next spring.
Wrigley’s outfield vista is perhaps the most beautiful in sports and looks like no other ballpark, which is why I don’t want it to become just like every other ballpark thanks to videos and gaudy ads dominating games.
Nevertheless, the video boards and signs are coming, but at least this week the National Park Service was able to do what the Commission on Chicago Landmarks refused to by getting the Cubs to trim the signage.
In exchange for $75 million in federal historic preservation tax credits, the Cubs will eliminate one ad sign in left field and shrink and lower a video ad board in right while also moving it closer to the foul pole. In a ballpark not known for hosting many big victories, that decision is at least a small one for fans of Wrigley’s classic beauty and integrity.
Illini basketball IQ
There’s no shame in losing to a Top 25 team in your first true road game of the season, which is what happened to the Illinois basketball team on Tuesday night at Miami. But it is a shame when your veterans take so many ill-advised shots, which is also what Illinois did vs. the Hurricanes.
In the 70-61 loss during which the Illini shot just 33 percent, fifth-year vets Ahmad Starks and Rayvonte Rice and fourth-years Aaron Cosby and Nnanna Egwu all suffered from bouts of poor shot selection.
If the Illini are to fare better against top competition this season, they’re not just going to have to shoot better, but shoot smarter too.