Mac on Sports

Walker New Eisenhower Head Coach
     As reported on this website early Tuesday afternoon, Rodney Walker is the new Eisenhower boys basketball head coach.
     I was the first media source to report Walker's hiring.
    Superintendent Lisa Taylor confirmed the board's unanimous action Tuesday night when she advised the district issued a news release on his hiring.
     "This is an exciting time for Eisenhower boys basketball.  We are looking forward to working with Rodney," said Principal Charles Hoots. 
    Walker is a Decatur native and St. Teresa graduate where he was a standout basketball player.  Later, he starred at New Mexico State and then overseas where he played a number of years in numerous countries.
    "We know his experience will be an asset to our program," added Hoots.
Walker Appears To Be Eisenhower Choice
   Rodney Walker appears to be Eisenhower's choice to succeed Eric Newbon which District 61 officials would neither confirm nor deny.
    District 61 officials said they cannot share personnel information until it has been shared with the board.  When questioned by this reporter this afternoon (Tuesday), Charles Hoots, Eisenhower principal, responded, "I have not turned in an official recommendation to the superintendent (Lisa Taylor).  I will do so shortly after I finish my reference checks.  It is my policy that I do not comment on any recommendations for any position until approved by the board."
    Also in response to my inquiry, District 61 Superintendent Lisa Taylor wrote, "We are not able to share personnel information until it has been shared with Board. I have not seen an employment recommendation yet either." 
    In an earlier interview I wrote, Walker said he looked forward to restoring pride back into Eisenhower's boys basketball program.
    As published in this week's Decatur Tribune, Granite City head coach Steve Roustio withdrew his candidacy last Friday after interviewing Thursday.
    Athletic Director Greg Collingwood told us last weekend that interviews would continue this week.
Hockaday Picks Hawkeyes
    Jack Hockaday, Maroa-Forsyth's widely-sought after athlete, today (Saturday) committed to Kirk Ferentz and his Iowa Hawkeyes.
    Hockaday is expected to play linebacker for the Big Ten Hawkeyes and committed to Iowa during his visit to Iowa City this weekend.
    A Trojans junior, he will return next fall for his senior season.
    Iowa was one of several Big Ten teams interested in him, including Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, among others.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Moore Considering, Rodney Walker, Steve Roustio In
    I have chatted with Jeremy Moore, the former Eisenhower boys basketball coach, Rodney Walker, one of the all-time greats to ever play the sport in Decatur, and Steve Roustio of Granite City about their interest in Eisenhower's boys basketball position.
    My interviews with each appears in this coming week's Decatur Tribune.
    Moore says he is trying to decide whether or not he wants to get back into coaching at this stage in his life, Walker and Roustio have confirmed they have applied for the Panthers coaching position by the recent resignation of Eric Newbon.
    Moore is the former Eisenhower coach, who obviously is torn between whether or not he wants to return to coaching after being away from the game for five years.
    Walker said he has applied for the position.  Although he has never coached high school basketball, his resume includes two standout prep seasons at St. Teresa where he once scored 52 points in a single game, scored more than 1,300 points in those two years of play and who went to star in community college and New Mexico State basketball before heading overseas for a lucrative career.
    And Steve Roustio also confirmed to the Decatur Tribune that he has applied as well.  He is now coaching at Granite City where he went after successful stints at Highland and Petersburg Porta.  His father, Mel, previously coached at Stephen Decatur and Eisenhower before retiring and becoming consultant to Deputy Superintendent Lisa Taylor and coordinating the Team Soy Decatur Thanksgiving tournament.
    They are the ones this writer has confirmed, who are either candidates or considering throwing their name into the laps of Principal Charles Hoots, Athletic Director Greg Collingwood and others who the two of them may have chosen for the selection committee.

Illinois Rallies for 66-62 Win
    Behind the play of Rayvonte Rice and a strong defense, Illinois came from behind in the second half to beat Boston University tonight (Wednesday) in the National Invitation Tournament on the Terriers court.
    Illinois now will play Clemson in the second round.
   I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Illini play at Boston University in NIT
    Illinois plays at 6 o'clock Wednesday night at Boston University on ESPN2 in its first round NIT game.
   John Groce's Illini received a second seed, Boston a seven.  Illinois cannot host games because of the reconstruction of the State Farm Center that is underway now.
    "We've really been playing well the last five six weeks of the season which I think the two seed reflects," said Groce in tonight's (Sunday) teleconference following his team's selection, one of only two teams picked from the Big Ten for the NIT with the other being the Minnesota Gophers, who received one of the four number one seeds.  Indiana was not selected for the NIT.
    "We're really excited to be given this opportunity," said Groce.  "I told our guys only 140-plus teams get to play in the post-season and we're one of them.  I have experience with the NIT from 2008 when I was at Ohio State when we won it.  It is a great environment, it is a great place to play and a great opportunity for our kids.
    "We want to keep it going," said the coach.
    Six teams were selected previously for the NCAA Division 1 tournament--Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa, who has to play Tennessee in Dayton for the right to play Massachusetts in Raleigh.
    About Boston University, he said, "we're working on video right now.  We know they are a heavy three-point shooting team and are in the top 30 in the country in the point production."
    The NIT is also the people's tournament. Teams that won their regular-season conference titles but lost out on the automatic bids in their conference tournaments get an automatic qualification into the NIT. After that, the committee fills out the remaining 32 spots with the best teams out there. The squads battle it out all the way to Madison Square Garden, where the NIT champion will be crowned on April 3.
    I will have more on this developing story as the Illini continue their march to Madison Square Garden in New York City which begins with Wednesday night's game against the Terriers of Boston University.

IIllinois Bows Out of Tourney
    Michigan came from behind in the final minute to defeat Illinois 64-63 in the quarterfinals of today's (Friday) Big Ten tournament.
    The Wolverines hit one of two free throws and then scored a two-point basket to take the lead at 64-63 with 3.9 seconds left.  Illinois missed a shot in the lane at the buzzer that would have won the game.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Illinois Advances in Big Ten, Plays Michigan
    Illinois will play top-seed and Big Ten champion Michigan at 11 a.m. Friday in the conference tournament's quarterfinals at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
    John Groce's Illini advanced by beating Indiana, 64-54, behind the play of Tracy Abrams, who scored 25 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two steals in the win.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Newbon Resigns as Panthers Boys Head Coach
    Eric Newbon resigned today (Tuesday), effective Friday, as Eisenhower's boys basketball head coach after five seasons in which his teams didn't have a winning record, but it wasn't from lack of effort working with his players, who he was always positive with in his weekly conversations with the Decatur Tribune.
    "It is time for me to spend more time with my daughters, helping them develop their respective games," said Newbon in discussing his resignation with Decatur Tribune sports editor J. Thomas McNamara Tuesday night.
    "By stepping down now as coach, I will have more time to spend with them," said the coach, who enjoyed his five seasons there and his six across town at MacArthur where he coached the lady Generals to a regional title, two 20 win seasons and for which he was named county coach-of-the-year twice and district coach-of-the-year once.
    "We (Anthony Young went there with him) thought we could go over there and build a winning program which we weren't able to do," said the coach.  "This also gives me the opportunity to go in a different direction if I so choose and if the right opportunity presents itself I may put my name in the hopper."
    A review of Eisenhower's boys basketball history shows, since 1990, Bob Moore coached one year, Bob Lockart two, Kurt Keller three, Sid Tucker four, Mel Roustio one (he retired to head the Thanksgiving tournament), Jeremy Moore eight and now Eric Newbon five.
    That's seven coaches in 24 years which indicates there may be more problems than coaching because only Jeremy Moore, during the Lewis Jackson, Jeremy Robinson, Jarod Oldham era, advanced to the post-season and won conference titles.  And Moore was encouraged to resign by the former administration, who was less than happy with the way he handled an internal team disciplinary matter with the administration dictating to the coach that he had to play the individual.     
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
St. Teresa CEO Takes Exception to IHSA Action
    St. Teresa's streak of four consecutive cross-country championships has come to an end because of action the Illinois High School Association board of directors took Wednesday, approving a rules change saying any non-boundaried school that has won more than two consecutive titles must move up a class.
    However, that action does not include boundaried, public schools, which is where St. Teresa chief executive officer and principal Dr. Ken Hendriksen takes exception which outlined this afternoon (Thursday) in a release to the media, his faculty, and others.
    The IHSA action does not move neighboring Rochester up a class even though it has won four straight football titles.  And the organization is not moving up Central A&M a class even though it has won two consecutive girls track and field championships.
    So, the organization is applying different rules for public and non-boundaried schools which is what Dr. Hendriksen cites in his statement:
    "Throughout my career as an educator, I have sometimes been astounded at actions taken by my fellow educators involved in the development of by-laws and rules established for IHSA sports and extracurricular activities.
    "The recent action taken by the IHSA Board of Directors (without even going to a vote to the membership schools like they did for approximately 30-35 other proposals earlier this year) penalizes successful students.
    "I have been a public school educator/coach/administrator for 34 years and I’m now in my seventh year as St. Teresa High School’s Principal/CEO. Never throughout my career have I tried try to impose a 'Success Advancement Step' on students achieving academically. In fact, we’ve always celebrated and championed successful students and their accomplishments.
    "How can the IHSA 'penalize successful' private school students and likewise not 'penalize successful' public school students?
    "Private school students (non-boundaried) are required to live within a thirty (30) mile radius. Obviously, the 30-mile radius for Decatur St. Teresa High School in Central Illinois is certainly different than the 30-mile radius for Chicago/suburban area private schools. If fairness is the issue, develop a 'population
algorithm' formula.
    "St. Teresa has won the state championship in Girls’ Cross Country for the past four years and took second place in 2009. With the recent vote by the Board of Directors, none of the girls currently in the seventh grade class (and older) will be able to compete for St. Teresa High School at the level they should be at for its enrollment of 265 students. With the implementation of this penalty, our students would now compete against a high school with an enrollment up to 1674 students.
    "For the record, every single St. Teresa girl that has run at the IHSA State Cross Country meet for the past five years has attended one of our three feeder Decatur Catholic elementary schools.
    "In retrospect, the St. Teresa Girls’ Cross Country team members will not be able to compete in Class 1A for six years, yet several Central Illinois Public School 'state trophy winners' in football, girls’ track, boys’ and/or girls’ cross country remain unaffected.
    "My father always told me that it is “The American Way to Reward Success”, not to manufacture barriers that 'discourage success.'
    "The 'success factor' should not be imposed on any students, but if it is, both Private and Public School students across the state should be treated equally," concluded Dr. Hendriksen's statement.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune as this story is boiling.

J. Thomas McNamara
Sports Editor
Decatur Tribune

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Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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