The competition at Redbird practices
has Yopp projected at 40 percent undecided, 60 percent fairly sure,
heading into the Redbirdsí first exhibition game, at 2 p.m. Sunday
against the Ohio Premier All-Stars.
Junior point guard Taren OíBrien,
sophomore forward Katie Donovan and 6-foot-5 junior college transfer
center Zora Skrabalova appear to have three jobs in hand.
The other two spots ó a wing position
and a post ó are the subject of daily practice battles. Senior
Reichle and sophomore Jaci McCormack are battling for the guard
spot, while Skrabalovaís companion in the post will come from among
sophomores Erin Keeney and Michelle Harakas as well as junior Sharon
Not only does Yopp have more players
battling for starting spots, the depth and experience is allowing
the Redbirds to play the "94-40" (94 feet for 40 minutes) style
their coach favors and has been building toward since she arrived in
"The great thing is that all 15 of our
players play well together," said Yopp, whose team opens the regular
season Nov. 23 at Western Michigan. "And the depth we have enables
us to apply the kind of defensive pressure Ö that we believe in."
[to top of second column in this
Better athletes and better depth has
impacted the offense as well, according to Yopp.
"We have added some new things to our
offense that fit with the added height and athleticism of this
team," said Yopp. "As far as getting to play an opponent, Iím sure
our team is just as excited as I am to see an actual opponent out
there. Our scrimmages and practices have been exceptionally
competitive, but this will be a real challenge. Iím sure our fans
will be just as interested as I am to see how we play."
And, as for establishing starters?
"Even on a
team without a Ďstar systemí like ours, itís important to eventually
decide who will be our igniters and pacesetters for the long term,"
said Yopp. "That will help set up our depth and give everyone an
opportunity to understand, within the team mentality, what their
roles are and when they will be called upon."
[Todd Kober, ISU director of
My coach of the week could very easily
be my coach of the year, and that is none other than LCHS head
football coach John Oaks! Coach Oaks told me and a LIVE TV audience
on "FANdamonium" BEFORE the season began that he had high hopes and
high expectations for his gridders. They reached several of those
lofty dreams and goals. It took some of the hardest work and
patience that you can ever imagine, but this man and his team got
the job done and turned in what I believe is the best record in some
11 years. And thatís not the half of it! The freshmen may have had
their best season ever, or at least one for the ages, as well. And
the sophomores had their moments too! Iím compelled to give John and
his staff the award as just a grateful fan.
Thanks, you guys, for beginning to
restore some of the pride back into the program. Perhaps this season
will serve as a launching pad to greatness! The LDN salutes you!
Staying with this same theme, Iím
picking the Lincoln High School football team (on all levels) as my
team of the week. Seldom will you see me reward a team on this side
of the ledger, but you have to start somewhere. And this is a
special team. First of all, I commend EVERY kid who just stuck it
out! Especially those of you who went through it all for four years!
And then to all of you who talked your friends into going out for
the team. And then to you guys who went out amidst pressure NOT to
do so from friends, family or whoever. You guys showed what hard
work, determination and teamwork can do when no one cares who gets
the glory! Hopefully our city and county officials are getting a
glimpse of this picture.
At any rate, we here at the LDN salute
your performance, and weíre proud of your accomplishments. May those
of you who return next year, pick up the baton and head straight for
The LDN wants to take this opportunity
to extend condolences to the family of coach
Ed Butkovich. Coach had
some exciting days and I believe has at least one Class A state
title in his rich legacy.
He was especially good to me in my
early days as the coach out at LCC. He allowed his players to come
to our summer camp.
(You might be surprised that SOME
coaches donít let their kids come to our camp or any camp other than
their own for that matter. I can STILL remember the scathing letter
I received from one of the coaches from Jacksonville, questioning
the methods I employed. History shows that some of the kids from
THAT area needed more than just ONE week of our camp experienceÖ BUT
I wonít go into that now. Let me just say that our graduates went on
to win many A and AA regional, sectional and a few state titles. I
THINK that speaks for itself).
Anyway, coaches Butkovich and Rucks and
Gasaway and others in Mount Pulaski always supported me and my
program, and Iíll never forget that. I will always be loyal and
grateful for that kind of friendship, especially when it comes from
an unexpected source like that.
Other area teams had and have just as
much at stake and have every opportunity to be supportive of LCC and
other area colleges but choose to focus solely on themselves. That
is their option.
Iím glad coach Butkovich wasnít like
that. He came as a favor to watch my teams practice every year and
then offered me tremendous insights and suggestions. If you donít
know much about basketball, let me just say that few things could be
worth more to you than having someone with his expertise helping
someone like me who was REALLY struggling at the time.
And more than that, Ed was just a good
guy. Whenever I saw him in public, he always had a kind or gracious
word for me.
I was sad and stunned to hear the news
of his passing. He was an icon in and for this area.
Thank you, Coach, for what you meant to
me and for countless others. Godspeed!
another one slip away
Yes. The Bears had another chance to
win a game in the waning moments. And unlike last year, when no
matter who threw the ball it would always end up in a Bearís hands,
thatís NOT the case this year!
The thing that this reporter is amazed
by is that whenever a Bears coach states that heís content to always
have at least a chance, I have to ask, "What???" I donít want just a
CHANCE. If I can kick the tar out of you and win by two or three
touchdowns, thatís what Iím going to do (my apologies to those of
you who thought I was a nice guy).
[to top of second column in this
[Photos by Tom Seggelke]
Take for instance the score tied in the
fourth quarter with the Bears possessing the ball just inside their
20-yard line. They run a pitch or a toss play that theyíve run six
to eight times already during the game (which begs the question, is
their playbook really THAT small?). On top of that, they try to run
it this time to a wide-out. Is it just my imagination or are
wide-outs suppose to run down the field and catch passes? When you
run something like that you deserve to fumble and lose the game. I
will never be able to figure out that kind of stuff!
Even just before half they ran some
vertical passing offense and were able to jet down the field in less
than a minute in time to get a last-second 53-yard FG from Paul
Ettinger! I realize that the zone was a little softer in that
situation, but do we KNOW that for sure? There was no attempt to go
back to that except in third and long situations and in desperation
On the other hand, I did feel that the
Bears defense played well. With the exception of two or three runs
by Donovan McNabb (and folks, this guyís going to break away every
once in a while; heís just that good), the Bears held them in check.
Great pursuit by Urlacher and others gave the Bears at least a
CHANCE to win (I STILL donít like that phrase!).
But when the offense didnít put up even
positive yardage in the second half until the last desperation
drive, thatís what happens. I know the schedule is tougher this
season, but Iím just not sure this group can get it done.
Click here for more Bears
Our own Greg Taylor tried to help
Illini coach Ron Turner. Greg suggested that coach Turner stick with
QB Jon Buetjer, but Turner didnít, and by the time Jon was inserted
into the game he didnít have enough time to incite a comeback, as
the Illini dropped an 18-7 ugly one to Penn State!
And whatís up with the tackling? Or
lack thereof? I havenít seen such sloppy technique since guys used
to run over me!!!
My mom used to say not to say anything
if you canít say something niceÖ THEREFORE, this subject matter is
Railers move on
The Lady Railer volleyball girls just
keep winning. Now they will travel to Rantoul for a Tuesday night
showdown with who we believe will be the Champaign Central Chargers
at 6:30. Good luck, ladies!
Thatís the only other sports news
thatís been turned over to me. If youíve got something else, get it
to us as quick as you can. You can reach us at
Tonight our guests include the LCHS
swimmers of George and Ruth Sloot, fresh off a fourth-place finish
at the CS8 meet.
Illini assistant coach Billy Gillespie
has accepted the head coaching position at UTEP. I hate to see him
Why didnít Illinois give Donovan McNabb
a better recruiting pitch when he was in high school?
Lincolnís Brian Cook and Jerrance
Howard will have to miss the first two games of the season because
of playing in a non-sanctioned summer tourney. Donít get me started
with the NCAA and the IHSA againÖ Letís just leave it alone!!!
Cook is featured in the new issue of
Slam magazine. (Click
here for details.)
Lincolnís Greg Alexander and his ISU
Redbirds get things started tonight versus SIU-E at 7:05 in Normal.
Plenty of good seats STILL available!!!
LCC opens their season this weekend
with a tourney in Cincinnati. LC dropped two tough ones on the road
in their openers.
Have a great
[Click here for past columns]