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Wednesday, Feb. 19

Junior high basketball

[FEB. 19, 2003] 

Boys 8A state tournament
At Wenona

Hartsburg-Emden     9   18   34     42

St. Agnes                  3    3   14     19

At Wenona

Game 14 - 7:15 p.m. - Roanoke-Benson (24-1) vs. Hartsburg-Emden (24-1)

High school basketball

[FEB. 19, 2003] 

Sangamon Conference tournament
(Fresh - soph)

At Mount Pulaski

Williamsville 50, Mount Pulaski 32.  (championship)

Class A sectional championships
At Mason City

Olympia vs. Lewistown

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Preachers end regular season's home games with win

[FEB. 19, 2003]  The Preachers picked up a win, 78-68, in their last regular-season home game Tuesday night against St. Louis Christian College. Lincoln, now 10-18, came out relaxed and led 39-29 at halftime.

Since it was the last home game, the team recognized their senior captain, Jake Raymer, who started and played in his final game.

LCC was led in scoring by Tim Schultz with 16, Caleb Edson 15 and Andrew Walton 10. Kyle Rogier grabbed 10 rebounds, and John Holderby dished out a game-high nine assists.

The Soldiers, 8-20, were led by Rod Ohmes, who scored 19.

The Preachers play Friday against regional opponent Northland Baptist of Dunbar, Wis.

LCC is 2-1 in regional action this season and will host the NCCAA Midwest Regional Tournament next weekend, Feb. 27- March 1.

[Aaron Johnson]

Birds-Aces rematch has plenty on the line

[FEB. 19, 2003]  NORMAL -- The list of issues is long: the standings, the postseason tournament, the home-court advantage and the momentum of coming off impressive upset wins last weekend. More answers about those issues will come in Thursday's 7:05 p.m. Evansville at Illinois State women's basketball game in Redbird Arena.

Illinois State, 7-15 overall, 4-8 in the Missouri Valley Conference, is coming off back-to-back road wins at Southwest Missouri State and Wichita State -- just the fifth team in 15 years to sweep that trip. Evansville, 10-11, 3-8 in the Valley, capped an eight-game losing streak Sunday with a 60-50 win over Drake.

Evansville is 0-7 on the road this season. Illinois State, which is guaranteed to finish with more road wins than home wins for the first time in 19 seasons, is just 2-8 at home.

Even though there are three weeks left in the conference season, the Redbirds-Aces game has a chance to become pivotal. A Redbird win not only gives Illinois State two more victories than Evansville, but also gives the Birds a sweep of the season series and the tiebreaker advantage even if the Aces catch Illinois State in the standings.

Evansville coach Tricia Cullop knows the Illinois State game can have huge meaning.

"I don't want to put all our eggs in one basket and say it's a must game," said Cullop, "but winning this game can really help our situation."

Redbird coach Jenny Yopp understands the context of the contest but wants her players focused on doing the job.

"We want to cut down as much as possible on distractions," said Yopp. "We want our players focused on playing the game, not the emotional roller coaster. Pressure is neutral. Stress is negative. We don't want our players creating unnecessary stress for themselves."


[to top of second column in this article]

Both coaches recall the Redbirds' 75-73 overtime win at Evansville for the quality of play both teams showed.

"I think we're better defensively now than we were then, but that was an enjoyable game for a great crowd to watch," said Yopp.

Cullop agreed, even though her team fell short when Sharon Blade of Illinois State rebounded Jenna Hayes' missed jumper in the waning seconds of overtime. "Both teams played with aggressiveness and desire," Cullop said.

"We'll do a much better job of matching up with Illinois State this time because of Kendra Snyder being back (from a sprained ankle)."

The Redbirds, led by Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week Jaci McCormack, matched up well defensively with both SMS and Wichita State last weekend. The Bears' 56 points matched their fewest in a home conference game since 1997. Wichita's 52 points were 21 below the Shockers' season average.

"Our team displayed a lot of confidence and went into battle with the most focus and determination we've had all year," said Yopp. "From the beginning in both games, we played with defensive intensity."

[Thomas Lamonica, Illinois State University]

Illini destroy Michigan State

By Greg Taylor

[FEB. 19, 2003]  OK, here is the scenario: You are playing the game without one of your starters, your rotation is reduced to eight players, and your senior All-American plays only 15 minutes and scores just four points. Oh, did I mention you are playing the Michigan State Spartans, coached by maybe the premier coach in the Midwest, three-time Final Four coach Tom Izzo? Sound like a sure recipe for defeat? Illinois loses again to the hated Spartans? Not exactly. How about a nationally televised 30-point victory that moves your team within a half game of first place in the conference?

Simply put, Illinois destroyed Michigan State in every aspect of the game Tuesday night on ESPN, and the sellout crowd in Champaign loved every minute of it. As the crowd chanted ("M - S - U - N - I - T") in the final minutes of the game, I wondered what Proviso East superstar Shannon Brown thought as he watched the school he chose to attend (MSU) lose 70-40 to the team he spurned (Illinois). Especially troubling for him could have been the fact that former high school teammate Dee Brown led the Illini with 24 points, while Shannon was helpless to do anything about helping his future team.

The Illini had several key contributors:

Dee Brown -- The freshman had his best conference game of the year, scoring 24 points and getting five steals, five assists and five rebounds. After the game, coach Tom Izzo referred to him as "Cleaves-like," and Brown took a huge step toward Big Ten freshman of the year in my book, even though many have already given Indiana's Bracey Wright the award (even though Wright missed 25 percent of the conference season).

Deron Williams -- The freshman Texan played smothering defense on Michigan State's best player, Chris Hill, and made four steals on the night. He ran the show on offense and finished with 12 points and three assists.

Nick Smith -- The string-bean sophomore from Florida played 14 first-half minutes and scored nine points, including a buzzer-beater basket at the half that reminded many of the Christian Laettner dagger from 1992.

Roger Powell -- The sophomore from Joliet got his first start in a month and a half and responded with a strong 30 minutes of action, including 10 points, seven rebounds and two highlight-reel dunks. Powell played at both the three and the four and gave Illinois big minutes when they needed it most.

Bill Self -- The Illini coach proved why he is the best by mixing things up on defense and refusing to allow MSU back in the game in the second half. Most nights would be panic city if Cook scores only four points and plays only 15 minutes, but Self has worked hard at keeping Illinois productive in stretches where Cook doesn't play.


[to top of second column in this article]

The crowd at the Hall -- The Assembly Hall was rocking once again -- something that didn't seem possible five minutes before the early 6 p.m. tip. Izzo said after the game that Illinois has the second best crowd in the conference (behind MSU) -- quite a compliment coming from one of the most successful coaches in the country the past five seasons.


[Photo by Tom Seggelke]

Illinois' team defense -- The 70-40 Illinois victory was the second worst defeat in Izzo's coaching career (next to a 83-47 loss at Iowa in Izzo's first season of '95-'96) and Michigan State looked flat-out lost for many parts of the game. Illinois enjoyed runs of 18-0 and 17-4 in the first half and 21-0 in the second -- incredible runs for any team and almost beyond comprehension against a Tom Izzo-coached team.

So what is next for Illinois? Several tidbits to consider as Illinois enters the stretch run:

1. Illinois plays Saturday against Northwestern in Chicago at the United Center at 1 p.m. The game will be televised by CBS. This game is considered a home game for Illinois (Assembly Hall was already taken by the state high school wrestling tourney) even though it is 140 miles from Champaign and 15 miles from Evanston. This game will serve as a great advantage for Illinois as they prepare for the Big Ten conference tourney in three weeks: The tournament will be played at the United Center March 13-16.

2. Illinois is back at the Hall for two more games this season. The first is against Indiana on Feb. 25 for an 8 p.m. ESPN contest. The final home game will be played March 8 or 9 against Minnesota and will be the Illini's final game of the regular season as well.

3. Illinois has road games at Michigan on March 1 (11:15 a.m. tip) and at Wisconsin on March 5 (8 p.m. tip). The Illini need to win at least one of these road games if they want a third straight conference championship.

4. Freshman Kyle Wilson has left the campus and is home in Plano, Texas. His future with the team has not been determined at this time.

5. The Illini hope to have Luther Head back for the Northwestern and Indiana games.

[Greg Taylor]

Cook, Illini cruise past Spartans

Cook's four points enough in Illinois' 70-40 rout

By Jeff Mayfield and LDN staff

[FEB. 19, 2003]  Illinois coach Bill Self is in his third year with the Illini. And during his tenure here I can think of only one or two times that I have disagreed with him about anything… and it was probably over the color of the carpet or something significant like that. But I would have to say that we were of one mind going into last night's game with what has become the hated Michigan State Spartans!

First of all, coach Tom Izzo has taken them to a ridiculous three Final Fours in just the last few years. They consistently win league titles, and last year their upset of us in the Hall (which, by the way, is the only game Self has ever lost in the building) kept us from winning the Big Ten outright. Couple all of that with them being on a winning streak and knowing that this game is a must if they have any thoughts of claiming yet another conference title. And did I mention that the Illini came into the game like the walking wounded? Virtually every player on the team is battered and bruised, fighting flulike symptoms, and wondering what the heck is going on. Not exactly the formula for winning college basketball games.


[Photo by Tom Seggelke]

So, going back to Self, he was worried. And so were we. And when MSU started the game 8-2 and did it rather easily, I thought, here we go again.

Enter Dee Brown, Deron Williams, Nick Smith and Roger Powell (BTW, those just happened to be the stars of the game in the post-game interview room as well). Somebody either kicked them or woke them up, because this was their game and this was their night.

Illinois finally tied it at eight, and Self said that that five minutes of action felt like an entire half to him; but apparently not to his players.

That got the Hall rockin'. It's hard to compare crowd noise from game to game, but I felt it was as loud as it gets.

From there it was a Powell dunk here, a few Brown run-outs there, a Williams steal and 3 here, and a Smith layup there. Then for good measure Smith banks in a 3 and hits a nifty buzzer-beater just before the half to extend the Illini lead to 20!


[to top of second column in this article]

Unlike the Ohio State game, where Illinois was largely lethargic in the second half, the Illini came out with purpose and resolve in the second half of this one. Self must've threatened them at halftime. They came out and ran their stuff and refused to let MSU back in the game. As they mixed up their defenses, going from a man to a box-and-one and a triangle-and-two, the Spartans were content to throw the ball around the perimeter and then just throw up some forced shots. I'm not sure I've ever seen MSU look so disoriented, in what was obviously one of their worst losses ever. And when Sean Harrington nailed a dagger 3 at the 9:17 mark, it was game, set and match, Mr. Agassi!

Dee Brown led all scorers with 24 points but also had five assists, five steals and five rebounds as the Illini won the battle of the boards 35-32. (When was the last time Illinois out-rebounded MSU???) Deron Williams had a solid 12-point effort, and Roger Powell had a great 10-point night at just the right time. And don't forget the nine-point Nick Smith contribution that came up huge. At one point I looked up at the scoreboard and saw a 69-28 reading and thought I'd better get to the Nobbe eye clinic as soon as I can get there!

Bill Self called this effort the most hardworking and in some ways best effort any team he's coached here had put forth. But he and I sure didn't see it coming!


[Jeff Mayfield and LDN staff]

Brian Cook named top 20
finalist for Naismith Award

[FEB. 19, 2003]  ATLANTA, Ga. -- Jackie Bradford, president of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, announced today the 20 collegiate men and women finalists for the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award.

The Naismith Board of Selectors, which includes some the country's leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators, began the selection process earlier this year and have reduced the number of finalists by balloting to the 20 top male and female players they felt most deserving of the award.

The winners of the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball, will be honored in Atlanta, Ga., on April 11.

The finalists for the Naismith College Player of the Year Award (listed alphabetically) are as follows:


Mario Austin, Mississippi State

Keith Bogans, Kentucky

Matt Bonner, Florida

Nick Collison, Kansas

Brian Cook, Illinois

Chris Duhon, Duke

T.J. Ford, Texas

Reese Gaines, Louisville

Jason Gardner, Arizona

Jarvis Hayes, Georgia

Kirk Hinrich, Kansas

Josh Howard, Wake Forest

Brandin Knight, Pittsburgh

Kyle Korver, Creighton

Hollis Price, Oklahoma

Mike Sweetney, Georgetown

Chris Thomas, Notre Dame

Dwayne Wade, Marquette

Luke Walton, Arizona

David West, Xavier


[Photo by Tom Seggelke]
[Brian Cook, No. 34]


Chantelle Anderson, Vanderbilt

Alana Beard, Duke

Kara Braxton, Georgia

Coretta Brown, UNC

Shameka Christon, Arkansas

Gwen Jackson, Tennessee

Kara Lawson, Tennessee

Kelly Mazzante, Penn State

Nicole Ohlde, Kansas State

Jocelyn Penn, South Carolina


[to top of second column in this article]

Plenette Pierson, Texas Tech

Nicole Powell, Stanford

Aiysha Smith, LSU

Stacy Stephens, Texas

Diana Taurasi, University of Connecticut

LaToya Thomas, Mississippi State

Iciss Tillis, Duke

Kendra Wecker, Kansas State

Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota

Shereka Wright, Purdue

The Coca-Cola Company will be the presenting sponsor of the Naismith College Basketball Awards for 2003. The entitlement complements the company's new 11-year NCAA partnership as a corporate champion.

"We are proud to be associated with the most coveted award in college basketball and such an outstanding organization," said Chuck Fruit, senior vice president, worldwide media and alliances, The Coca-Cola Company. "Coca-Cola has always been a strong supporter of collegiate athletics. Having the opportunity to participate in recognizing outstanding basketball achievement is a natural extension of the values we share with the Atlanta Tipoff Club."

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company and is the leading producer and marketer of soft drinks. Along with Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's best-known brand, the company markets four of the world's top five soft drink brands, including diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite. Through the world's largest distribution system, consumers in nearly 200 countries enjoy the company's products at a rate of more than 1 billion servings each day.

The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th year, honors the outstanding college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of excellence in basketball for student athletes. For more information on the Naismith Awards and past winners, please visit

[Atlanta Tipoff Club news release]

Articles from the past week


  • Junior high basketball

  • High school basketball

  • First Redbird since Reichle wins Valley honor

  • Men's basketball pre-game notes:

  • Illinois State vs. Evansville

  • Illinois vs. Michigan

  • Concrete pour launches Redbird Arena project



  • High school basketball


  • High school basketball

  • High school swimming

  • Illinois State baseball legend Capra to be honored with retired number

  • Men's basketball pre-game notes:

  • Illinois State vs. Drake

  • Illinois at Purdue



  • LCHS swim results

  • High school basketball

  • Birds looking for consistency back on the road


  • High school basketball

  • Men's basketball pre-game notes: Illinois State at Bradley

Alexander ties record

By Jeff Mayfield

[FEB. 17, 2003]  When I  moved to Lincoln back in the '70s, the Lincoln Railer basketball team was enjoying quite a lot of success under then-coach Loren Wallace. When he left I thought to myself, "Self, I probably won't live long enough to see that record ever broken." Especially when you consider two things. One, you actually have to STAY at the same school for a number of years. And then the real kicker, you actually have to be CONSISTENTLY good. That's all current Railer coach Neil Alexander has been. Consistently darn good! With Friday night's 61-51 victory over Sacred Heart-Griffin, Alexander tied legendary former coach Wallace with his 271st career win.

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, coach!!!

Panic sets in?

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. From the start we didn't think that would be Illinois, 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 article]

Let's 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!

Mount Pulaski, Warrensburg-Latham and Hartsburg all won their games!

Lincoln 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!

Tiger Woods

Any questions?

Didn't think so!

Michael 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!

Sports 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 or call "FANdamonium" to register.

Lady 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 Railers!

Have a REALLY good week, everybody!

[Jeff Mayfield]


Softball pitching clinic in Bloomington

[JAN. 31, 2003]  The Bloomington Hearts' annual softball pitching clinic will be Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Shirk Center at Illinois Wesleyan University. Former Illinois State all-American and current Hearts pitcher Nicole Kurth will lead the clinic. Other instructors will include pitchers from the Hearts, IWU and Illinois State University who are very experienced in both playing the game and teaching.

There will be two sessions, so attendees can sign up for 9:30 a.m. until noon or for 1:30 to 4 p.m. The cost is $30 per session, and that includes a heavy-duty T-shirt. For groups of three or more, the cost is $25 per student. The sessions will be limited in number to allow maximum individual instruction.

To register by telephone or for information, call (309) 828-2686 or (309) 662-5861.

[News release]

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