It was a third straight NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday without any Illinois representation. The drought’s almost as long as today’s show was.
While Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois had encouraging seasons, and Northwestern has been building momentum, they’ll have to settle for the consolation tourneys. “SportsNet Central” on Comcast SportsNet begins a four-part series at 10:30 tonight highlighting why our locals (specifically DePaul, NU, Loyola, UIC and Illinois, which has historically drawn heavily from Chicago) have been struggling. The answers are easy (recruiting and keeping local stars home), the route to those solutions aren’t.
The only local coach we spoke with is Northwestern’s Chris Collins because he’s one of those star local players who got away (Duke). Now he’s trying to get the cream of the local crop (at least those who can be accepted) NOT to follow the example he set.
Other than Chris, we stayed away from the coaches currently in their positions to get perspective from the outside. Those who’ve been through this process before, successfully and unsuccessfully. Former players like Mark Aguirre, Kendall Gill and Dave Corzine. Former coaches like Jimmy Collins and Joey Meyer.
Successful high school head coaches like Nick Irvin, Gene Pingatore and Robert Smith. We also got some thoughts from our own David Kaplan, who was an assistant coach at Northern Illinois back in DePaul’s glory days and currently does some color commentary on games across the country. You’ll also hear from the most outspoken of our subjects, Mike Irvin, the Director and Head Coach of the AAU Mac Irvin Fire. And you’ll hear why arguably the current top point guard in the state, Morgan Park’s Charlie Moore, didn’t commit to Illinois, even though he was very interested.
Sunday night's episode, “March Madness,” shares how mad the above guests are about the current state. Monday, we dive into recruiting and relationships (or lack of) between these Division I schools and many of the top players in the Chicagoland area. Tuesday, the debate on whether a “One-and-Done” would actually help, long-term, if one of these programs caught lightning and got a blue-chipper. Finally, Wednesday, we examine a couple of theories that might help matters for these five schools in particular.
We hope you’ll check it out. It's on the 10:30 editions of “SportsNet Central” Sunday through Wednesday, leading up to yet another Big Dance that Illinois schools can only watch. Again.