The Redbirds, 7-15 overall, 5-8
in the Missouri Valley, had a 36-30 rebounding edge over the
Shockers and held Wichita State to just four points in the final
eight minutes of the game. Sharon Blade added 12 points for the
Redbirds and Stacey White had 11, while Taren O'Brien had a
season-high eight assists and just one turnover against the
relentless Shocker full-court press.
Redbird coach Jenny Yopp felt
that preparation and composure made the difference in a game that
included two Shocker technical fouls and plenty of physical play at
both ends of the court. She complimented assistant coaches Cherie
Swarthout, Christy Thomaskutty and Chris Mennig for helping with a
game plan to contain the Shockers, who scored 87 points in beating
Indiana State just two nights earlier.
"I am proud and appreciative of
my staff," said Yopp. "All three of them have played huge roles in
preparing this team all season long, and tonight they were great.
I'm also proud of our leadership (on the court) right now. We got
after it on defense and Wichita State took it right to us just like
we expected, and we stayed poised throughout the game."
The victory at Wichita made
Illinois State just the fifth team in the last 15 seasons to sweep
the "Bear-muda Triangle" road trip to Southwest Missouri State and
Wichita State. Jill Hutchison's 1997 Redbirds also did it, as did
Drake teams in 1998 and 2002 and Creighton last year. The Redbirds
have won five straight games in which they led at halftime.
ISU trailed 11-4 in the first
four minutes, before Blade's two straight baskets, along with some
better defense, got ISU started. A pair of O'Brien layups tied the
score at 14, and White's reverse layup on a lob pass from McCormack
put ISU ahead 16-14 with 9:43 left in the half. That was part of an
11-2 run, capped by a McCormack 3-pointer, which put ISU ahead
21-16. The Birds had an assist for each of their first nine baskets,
including four by O'Brien.
[to top of second column in this
Illinois State led 29-26 at
halftime, as the Birds limited WSU to just two of its last 13
field-goal attempts before intermission. But WSU went to the
free-throw line 14 times, converting 10 to stay close. White had
eight points for ISU in the first half, and the Birds led at the
intermission despite four players having to sit down with two fouls
Early in the second half, Zora
Skrabalova picked up her third and fourth fouls, and Blade was
called for her third, as WSU, 12-10, 6-7 in the Valley, battled to a
36-36 tie on Carlesa Dixon's basket with 16:35 left. Stacey
Nickerson, playing because of the foul trouble, got ISU back in the
lead on a layup with 15:48 left. But Raeven King's two free throws
and a Buckner basket inside gave the Shockers a 40-38 lead. Buckner
led WSU with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
White answered with a short
jumper, and McCormack followed a pair of Redbird steals with a
3-pointer from the left wing and a free-throw-line jumper as ISU
went on a 7-0 run to lead 45-40 with 12:57 left. The Birds had a
49-48 lead heading into the final eight minutes and raised it to
54-48 with a five unanswered points, topped by two free throws by
Sara Stevenson with 5:13 left to play.
Dixon got WSU's first points in
more than three minutes on a looping shot ahead of the shot clock to
cut the lead to four, but a bank shot by Skrabalova and an
old-fashioned 3-point play by Blade gave ISU a 59-50 lead into the
Illinois State returns home to face Evansville at 7:05 p.m. Thursday
and Southern Illinois at 2:05 pm. Saturday, both at Redbird Arena.
[Thomas Lamonica, Illinois State University]
The finalists on the men's side are
Matt Carroll of Notre Dame, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich of
Kansas, Brian Cook of Illinois, Reece Gaines of Louisville, Jason
Gardner of Arizona, Josh Howard of Wake Forest, Kyle Korver of
Creighton, Hollis Price of Oklahoma, and David West of Xavier.
The women's finalists are Chantelle
Anderson and Ashley McElhiney of Vanderbilt, Coretta Brown of North
Carolina, Courtney Coleman of Ohio State, Cheryl Ford of Louisiana
Tech, Gwen Jackson and Kara Lawson of Tennessee, Jocelyn Penn of
South Carolina, Plenette Pierson of Texas Tech, and LaToya Thomas of
The Senior CLASS Award -- an acronym
for "celebrating loyalty and achievement for staying in school" --
was launched prior to the 2001-02 college basketball season. The
initial idea came from CBS sportscaster Dick Enberg, who now serves
as honorary chairman for the award. It became reality when the
Kansas City Club agreed to present the award and serve as host
organization for the culminating event last year.
The winners of the inaugural award were
Juan Dixon of Maryland and Sue Bird of Connecticut. The first-year
recipients led their respective teams to the national championships.
Shane Battier, who inspired the inception of the award by his
compelling senior season at Duke, received an honorary Senior CLASS
The 10 finalists for the second annual
award were selected by a national committee of sportswriters and
sportscasters who cover Division I college basketball. These players
were chosen, based on performance during the current season, from a
list of 30 "Players to Watch" for both men and women.
"This has certainly been a superb
season for senior players in college basketball," said Miles Schnaer,
chairman of the Senior CLASS Award organizing committee. "It started
with all five members of the men's preseason all-America team being
seniors. Narrowing down the list of finalists from 30 to 10 was a
very difficult task for our national media committee."
The names of these finalists will
appear on the official ballot during the national voting process
that begins today for fans across the country. The selection of the
second annual men's and women's award winner will be based on the
cumulative ballots of three entities: the national media committee,
Division I college basketball coaches and nationwide fan balloting
via the award's official website,
The winner will be announced during the respective NCAA Final Four
events in March.
"The first year of this award was met
with a tremendous response from coast-to-coast," said Gary Heise,
president and CEO of Premier Sports Management, the company
responsible for overseeing the award program. "According to players
and coaches from around the country, it is rapidly becoming a very
coveted award for senior athletes."
The 2002-03 honorees will be presented
with their award at the Senior CLASS Award Tribute Gala in Kansas
City on Friday, April 25. The event will offer tributes to the male
and female winner, along with a salute to the men's and women's
national championship teams. A portion of the event's proceeds will
go the local Kansas City chapter of Special Olympics.
For ticket or sponsorship information
to the award gala or to find out more information regarding the
Senior CLASS Award, go to the award's official website,
[to top of second column in this
[photo by Tom Seggelke]
Illini No. 34, Lincolnite Brian Cook, in
action at a recent game
men's Senior CLASS Award finalists
Matt Carroll, University of Notre Dame
Nick Collison, University of Kansas
Brian Cook, University of Illinois
Reece Gaines, University of Louisville
Jason Gardner, University of Arizona
Kirk Hinrich, University of Kansas
Josh Howard, Wake Forest University
Kyle Korver, Creighton University
Hollis Price, University of Oklahoma
David West, Xavier University
Notre Dame guard Matt Carroll is
currently averaging 21 points per game, which makes him the seventh
leading scorer in the Big East Conference. Carroll had 14 points and
sparked a 9-0 run in Notre Dame's recent victory over
then-fourth-ranked Pittsburg, which catapulted the Irish to ninth in
Forward Nick Collison is leading
the Big 12 Conference in career rebounds with over 950 boards and is
currently averaging nine rebounds a game. He is leading the No.
10-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in scoring average with 18.7 points per
Illinois forward, scored 22 points in a recent victory over
conference rival Ohio State. He is leading the Big 10 in scoring
with an average of 22 points per contest. Cook is also shooting over
80 percent from the free-throw line this season.
Louisville guard Reece Gaines is
the leading scorer and rebounder for the second-ranked Cardinals. He
is averaging 18 points per game, good for fifth place in Conference
USA, and 10.3 rebounds per game, which is third in the conference.
leads No. 1 Arizona in scoring, assists
and steals this season, as he did his junior season with the
Wildcats. He is currently on pace to record over 2,000 career
points, averaging just under 15 points per game.
Guard Kirk Hinrich of Kansas was
recently voted the Big 12 Player of the Week due to his stellar
two-game average of over 26 points per game, including shooting an
incredible 72.4 percent from the field. He is currently averaging 18
points per game this season and has been an integral force in the
Jayhawks' top-10 national ranking.
Wake Forest's Josh Howard has
been a dominant player in the ACC so far this year. He is leading
the ACC in scoring average with 23 points per game and ranks second
in rebound average with 10 per game.
Forward Kyle Korver of the
No.12-ranked Blue Jays is ranked first in scoring average in the
Missouri Valley Conference. The reigning MVC Player of the Year is
also currently leading his team in scoring with 18 points per
MVP of the Big 12 Conference as a
junior, is putting together another outstanding season as a senior.
He is currently in third place in scoring average in the Big 12 with
over 19 points per game.
David West is the winner of four straight Atlantic 10 Player of
the Week honors, including one earlier this month. West is averaging
a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds per contest.
If you're scoring at home, that is an
average of about 20.8 victories per season! Some coaches work their
whole careers hoping for one or two of those seasons, while coach
"Al" AVERAGES that many victories!
I could write volumes in regard to my
admiration for what he has done, but if you're a loyal reader of
this column, then you already know where my allegiance lies. So,
I'll condense it to this: This record is a totally, incredibly
amazing feat! We tip the LDN hat to coach "Al," and I can only utter
this word that doesn't do this record justice: CONGRATULATIONS,
IF you're among the legion of Illini
fans who want to dive head-first off the bandwagon, let me throw
this little morsel your way. Especially IF you REALLY thought that
the Illini were going to win at Mackey Arena anyway. Last year the
Big Ten quad-champions went a combined 29-3 at home! And one of the
losers was our dearly beloved Illini, who fell to Michigan State in
one of the UGLIEST games that this semiprofessional writer has ever
witnessed. I'd love to live long enough to NEVER have to experience
something like that again, but surely I will.
I just wanted you to know that the
home-court games are a must, as evidenced by the current top five
teams, who are a combined 27-1 as we post; and the team that has the
more favorable schedule and can somehow steal three or four road
wins will win the conference. We didn't think that would be Illinois
from the start and we said so.
However, there is STILL a lot to play
for. A bigger concern is that we're just not playing all that well
consistently. I hope we didn't peak against North Carolina! We still
want a good spot for the league tourney, and we want the best seed
we can get for the Big Dance.
Tomorrow night versus Michigan State
should be fun… Don't we owe them a little sumpin'-sumpin'???
[to top of second column in this
give it up for…
...the Hartsburg-Emden eighth-grade
boys basketball hoopsters! They are 22-1 and will take on an 18-3
Mulberry Grove team tonight at 6:30 in Wenona. Good luck, fellas!
Pulaski, Warrensburg-Latham and Hartsburg all won their games!
College may never lose again!
Thirteen in a row is the boisterous
chant coming from the campus of Lincoln College! The Lynx (18-6,
11-0) dumped an always tough Danville squad 58-53 and surely should
improve on their No. 10 national ranking! Their Saturday game at Flo
Valley was postponed like hundreds of others in the Midwest -- no
doubt a big break for Flo Valley!
Didn't think so!
Waltrip wins Daytona 500
Those of you who know NASCAR better
call in on "FANdamonium" tonight at 6 to explain to us what
happened. You can catch us on the LDN, on CITV channel 5, or on FIX
96.3! We also hope to feature members of the Lincoln High School
swimming team on the show tonight!
memorabilia collectors take note…
We will be giving away a Dick Butkus
bobblehead ceramic figure at the end of the month. Just e-mail me at
Jmayfiel@lccs.edu or call "FANdamonium"
Railers in the postseason…
The No. 9 seeded Lincoln Lady Railers
will host the No. 5 Washington club tonight in Lincoln. No. 4
Metamora will also battle No. 13 Decatur-Eisenhower. Good luck, Lady
REALLY good week, everybody!