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Tuesday, March 4

High school basketball

[MARCH 4, 2003] 

Class AA
Lincoln ended season seventh in state

Three Lincoln players were selected for the Central
State Eight all-state team: 

Cory Farmer, Erik Young and Chris Bunch.

Lincoln College women close out season

[MARCH 4, 2003]  Lincoln Land Community College handed Lincoln College a 64-59 setback in the opening round of the Region 24 women's basketball tournament at Lincoln Monday night. The Lynx complete the season with a record of 16-15.

Lincoln Land opened a 33-26 lead at halftime and was never headed in the second half.   After Lincoln College turned the ball over on its first four possessions of the second half, Lincoln Land expanded the lead and took a 51-31 lead with 9:12 left to play. Lincoln College closed the gap to two points on three occasions in the final nine minutes but was unable to get over the hump, as Lincoln Land converted several free throws and a layup to close out the scoring.

Mercedes Kays led the Lincoln Land attack with 24 points and was the only player in double figures. Nicole Dearing scored 17 to lead the Lady Lynx, while Erica Ernst added 15 and Kanisha Pettis added 11.


[to top of second column in this article]

Lincoln College (59) -- Amber Bell 2-5-9, Kanisha Pettis 4-0-11, Becky Spears 0-2-2, Nicole Dearing 5-5-17, Maria Coronel 1-0-3, Zabrina Harper 1-0-2, Erica Ernst 5-5-15.  Totals 18-17-59. Three-point goals: Pettis 3, Dearing 2, Coronel.

Lincoln Land (64) -- Ball 4-1-9, Bearss 1-0-2, Bolognone 3-1-8, Hahn 3-3-9, Kays 8-8-24, Quandahl 3-2-8, Thompson 2-0-4.  Totals 24-15-64.  Three-point goals: Bolognone

[Bill Martinie, Lincoln College
sports information director]

Lincoln College baseball outlook

[MARCH 4, 2003]  Tony Thomas begins his 10th season as head baseball coach at Lincoln College this season, and if his pitching depth and offense are able to come through, it could be his best season.  

"We have a good defensive squad, and I think our pitching will be adequate," Thomas said. "If we are able to score some runs, we should have a solid season. Our top two pitchers will be Kenny VanHouten and Dan Dunn. I really don't know at this time which is number one."

Lincoln College finished last season with a 15-30 won-lost record and returns most of the infield.

"We should be able to put together a solid defensive unit," said Thomas. "Pitching depth could be a question mark; however, we have a lot of people contending for the three, four and five starters. We have enough arms available to pitch in long relief. Right now Matt Gilbert probably has the inside for the number three spot.

"Jake Buchanan, Tony Eckhart and Jarrod Serra have been showing progress as freshman, and Serra is probably our hardest thrower and could be our closer," continued Thomas.

The Lynx mentor said: "We aren't going to have much power, but we return four players who hit .300 last season. We will be doing a lot of hit-and-run offense and playing a lot of small ball.

"The leading candidates in the outfield are Jeff Harris, Zach Rinaberger and Josh Davison. They are probably the best three outfielders (as a group) I have had since I have been at Lincoln College. They have a good understanding of the game and have shown a lot of leadership.


[to top of second column in this article]

"The infield will be made up of Lou Persino at third, VanHouten at short, Matt Miflin at second and Dunn at first. Frank Pesce will be the starting catcher, with backup from Andrew Bartman. When Dunn or VanHouten are pitching, we will obviously be moving some people around, so several players are going to get an opportunity to play."

During spring break Lincoln College will play in the Florida-Alabama area against some good competition. "Jefferson Davis and Faulkner are both very strong teams, and we will see where we stack up when we go south," said Thomas.

"In the conference Parkland is rated number one, while Danville is rated 16th in the preseason polls. Lake Land drew honorable mention, which shows how strong our conference will be," said Thomas.

Joining Thomas on the coaching staff is John Stoltzenburg, who handles the pitchers, and Neil Eigenbrod, who will be in charge of the outfielders. "This is the first year we have had three coaches, and it is going to be big help to have Neil on board," said Thomas.

"One of the real keys to our season will be finding someone to come up big who we really aren't expecting. If we can get two or three players to perform even better than anticipated, I think it will be an interesting season."

[Bill Martinie, Lincoln College
sports information director]

SIU pulls away from Illinois State

[MARCH 4, 2003]  NORMAL -- Vince Greene hit four 3-point shots on his way to a game-high 22 points for Illinois State, but he didn't have enough support to prevent a 78-62 loss to Missouri Valley Conference champion Southern Illinois on Monday at Redbird Arena.

Darren Brooks led the Salukis with 20 points, backed by Kent Williams with 18 and Jermaine Dearman with 17. SIU converted 17 Redbird turnovers for 21 points.

The Redbirds, 7-20 overall, 5-13 in the Missouri Valley, took a 9-8 lead at the 13:55 mark in the first half on Marcus Arnold's rebound basket, but a succession of Redbird turnovers led to an 8-0 SIU run to a16-9 SIU lead. Greene's first two treys brought ISU back to 16-15 with 6:50 left in the half. After Brooks hit the fifth shot on the next SIU possession, Arnold scored again for ISU to make it 18-17.

Gregg Alexander was called for a foul while trying to deflect a pass, and the Redbird bench was hit with a technical on the play. Williams drained all four free throws, and SIU took a lead that quickly grew to 29-20. ISU answered with jump shots by Trey Guidry and Alexander, followed by Greene's third 3-pointer, to slice the lead to 29-27 with 1:10 left. Dearman hit two free throws to put SIU up 32-27, but Alexander canned a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in the half to make the halftime margin SIU 32-30.

[to top of second column in this article]

Andy Strandmark's two free throws in the first minute of the second half tied the score at 32-32, but Brooks hit a 3-pointer to start a 12-4 Saluki run, putting SIU up 44-36 at the 16-minute mark. ISU never got closer than six points after that.

Southern Illlinois, 22-5, 16-2 in the Valley, becomes just the fifth Valley team to record 16 league wins and the first since Illinois State's 1997-98 team, which also finished 16-2.

Illinois State hit nine-of-14 3-pointers for a season-best 64.3 percent. The Birds honored senior players Strandmark, Baboucarr Bojang, Brett Gillan and Casey Reid in post-game ceremonies.

Illinois State opens the State Farm-Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Friday against Drake at the Savvis Center in St. Louis. The winner of that game plays Southern Illinois, the No. 1 seed, at 12:05 p.m. Saturday.

[Erica Fricke, assistant director of media relations, Illinois State University]

Illinois game to be televised Sunday

[MARCH 4, 2003]  The Minnesota at Illinois men's basketball game has been selected by CBS for broadcast on Sunday, March 9, at 1 p.m. Central time. ESPN Plus will regionally syndicate Purdue at Michigan on Saturday, March 8, at 4:37 p.m. Eastern time.

This weekend's schedule:

Saturday, March 8

12:17 p.m. Eastern time -- Michigan State at Ohio State (ESPN Plus regional syndication)

2:34 p.m. Eastern -- Northwestern at Iowa (ESPN Plus regional syndication)

4:37 p.m. Eastern -- Purdue at Michigan (ESPN Plus regional syndication)

8:07 p.m. Eastern -- Indiana at Penn State (ESPN Plus local syndication)

Sunday, March 9

1 p.m. Central time -- Minnesota at Illinois (CBS Sports)

[Provided by Kent Brown of the
University of Illinois, Champaign,
from Mark Rudner of the
Big Ten Conference, Park Ridge]

Men's basketball pre-game notes

Illinois at Wisconsin

[MARCH 4, 2003]   CHAMPAIGN -- Fighting Illini basketball: No. 14 (AP)/14 Illinois (20-5, 10-4 Big Ten) at No. 24/24 Wisconsin (21-6, 11-4 Big Ten) will be televised by ESPN Plus local broadcasting from the Kohl Center (17,142) in Madison, Wis., at 8:07 p.m. Central time on Wednesday.

Probable Illinois starters

F, 34, Brian Cook (senior, 6-10, 240, 19.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg)

F-C, 40, James Augustine (freshman, 6-10, 220, 7.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

F, 43, Roger Powell (sophomore, 6-6, 220, 8.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg)

G, 11, Dee Brown (freshman, 6-0, 175, 12.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.8 apg)

G, 5, Deron Williams (freshman, 6-3, 210, 6.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.7 apg)

Off the bench

C, 1, Aaron Spears (freshman, 6-9, 250, 3.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg)

G, 4, Luther Head (sophomore, 6-3, 175, 8.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg)

F, 23, Blandon Ferguson (senior, 6-3, 205, 1.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg)

G, 24, Sean Harrington (senior, 6-3, 185, 7.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg)

G, 25, Jerrance Howard (senior, 6-1, 200, 0.5 ppg, 0.3 rpg)

G, 31, Nick Huge (junior, 6-4, 215, 0.3 ppg, 0.2 rpg)

F, 32, Kyle Wilson (freshman, 6-8, 230, 2.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg)

F, 42, Clayton Thomas (senior, 6-7, 240, 0.4 ppg, 0.6 rpg)

C, 45, Nick Smith (sophomore, 7-2, 240, 5.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

Series history with Wisconsin

This is the 167th meeting between Illinois and Wisconsin, with the Illini owning a 101-65 edge in the all-time series. Wisconsin, however, leads 48-36 in games played at Madison and is 3-1 against the Illini at the Kohl Center. The Illini have beaten the Badgers two straight times and have won seven of the last 10 games in the series, including a 69-63 victory in Champaign on Jan. 11.

Illinois coaching staff

Head coach: Bill Self

Overall record: 202-103 (10th year), Big Ten 34-12

At Illinois: 73-22 (third year), all-time versus Wisconsin 3-1

Associate head coach: Norm Roberts (third year)

Assistants: Tim Jankovich (first year) and Wayne McClain (second year)

Trainer: Rod Cardinal (30th year)

Wisconsin coaching staff

Head coach: Bo Ryan

At Wisconsin: 40-19 (second year), all-time versus Illinois 1-3

Overall: 423-122 (18th year)

Assistant coaches: Rob Jeter, Tony Bennett, Greg Gard

On the air

Television: ESPN Plus local -- Craig Coshun, play-by-play; Doug Altenberger, expert ESPN Plus analyst

Radio: Illini Sports Radio Network, 43 stations -- Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Stephen Bardo, expert analyst; and Loren Tate, pre-game and halftime reports.


Quick shots

Illinois enters the March 5 game at Wisconsin a half game behind the Badgers for first place in the conference. ... An Illini win would assure Illinois at least a share of the regular-season title, the first three-peat in school history, with one game remaining at home against Minnesota. ... A Wisconsin win would give the Badgers sole possession of the title. ... The Illini have topped 20 wins 22 times in school history, including six of the last seven seasons and each season under Bill Self. ... Illinois is 38-1 (.973) at the Assembly Hall under Bill Self, with the only loss coming to Michigan State in 2002. ... Since then, the Illini have won 16 straight at the Hall. ... Illinois is 50-2 (.962) at the Assembly Hall over the past four seasons. … Illini opponents are shooting .378 from the field, which ranks second in the nation and would be the lowest opponent field-goal percentage by UI opponents since 1955-56 (.352). ... Since 1956, the only other Illini squad to hold opponents to less than 40 percent shooting was the 2001 squad under Bill Self (.386). ... Illini opponents are also shooting just .287 from 3-point range, which would be the lowest in school history (current low is .308 in 2000). ... After 14 Big Ten games, Brian Cook leads the Big Ten in scoring (19.5 average) and is seventh in rebounding (6.6 average), while Roger Powell and James Augustine rank first and second, respectively, in field-goal shooting at .652 (43-66) and .593 (48-81). ... Dee Brown is tied for the league lead in assists (4.86 average), and Deron Williams is tied for third (4.71 average). ... Brown leads in steals (1.93 average) while leading in assist-turnover ratio (3.24). ... Over the last three games, Deron Williams has 18 assists and just one turnover in 85 minutes. ... Brian Cook has scored at least 15 points in 20 of his 23 games this season, including at least 20 points 14 times. He has scored 20 or more in 11 of the last 16 games, including six in a row prior to Jan. 18 at Indiana, the longest such streak by an Illini player since Kendall Gill tallied 20-plus points in the final 10 games of the 1989-90 season. ... Illini players are currently leading three Big Ten statistical categories for all games. ... Brian Cook leads the Big Ten in scoring (19.8 ppg), Dee Brown leads in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.53), and Sean Harrington leads the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (.443). ... Roger Powell is second in field-goal shooting (.607, 82-135), with James Augustine one slot back (.603, 76-126) in third. Dee Brown and Deron Williams are second and third in assists (4.76 and 4.68 apg), while Deron Williams is second in assist-turnover margin (2.44).

CBS wild card decision made

CBS has chosen the Minnesota at Illinois contest for a Sunday, March 9, telecast. Game time is 1 p.m. The Purdue at Michigan game will be televised on ESPN regional television at 3:30 p.m. Central time on Saturday, March 8.

Self Naismith Coach of the Year finalist

For the fourth consecutive year, Bill Self is one of 25 finalists for the Naismith National College Coach of the Year Award. He is the only Big Ten coach on the list of finalists.

Last time out -- Illinois 82, Michigan 79

Brian Cook scored a game-high 26 and Roger Powell added 18 in an 82-79 victory over Michigan at Ann Arbor. Both teams came out hot in the first half, with the Illini shooting 50 percent and the Wolverines shooting 56 percent from the field. Michigan was the first opponent in 18 halves to shoot at least 50 percent from the field against the Illini in a half. Dee Brown tossed in a floating 12-footer with 1:24 to go to give the Illini a one-point lead and fed Augustine for a layup with 34 seconds remaining to make the score 79-76. Three free throws by Roger Powell and Deron Williams extended the lead and allowed the Illini to post their third Big Ten road win of the season.

Youth is no excuse

The Illini are contending for a Big Ten title with a majority of playing time coming from underclassmen. Of a possible 125 starts this season, 71 have come from freshmen and 26 from sophomores, with only 28 coming from seniors Brian Cook and Sean Harrington.

2002-03 starts by class (minutes played):

Seniors: 28 (1,547 minutes played, 30.9 percent)

Juniors: 0 (0 minutes played, 0 percent)

Sophomores: 26 (1,220 minutes played, 24.4 percent)

Freshmen: 71 (2,233 minutes played, 44.7 percent)

Self defense is tops

After 25 games this season, Illinois opponents are shooting just 37.8 percent from the field, including just 28.7 percent from 3-point range. The Illini rank second in the nation (as of Feb. 24) in field-goal defense percentage. Only three opponents have shot better than 45 percent from the field on the season.

The 37.8 percent shooting by Illini opponents would be the lowest allowed since 1956 and just the second time since that teams shot under 40 percent. The other was in 2001, also under Bill Self.

The 28.7 percent 3-point field-goal defense percentage is the lowest in school history.

Against Coppin State on Dec. 30, Illinois held the Eagles to just 12 field goals, the fewest made shots in the 40-year history of the Assembly Hall, and to just 29 percent shooting from the field. Coppin was the second Illini opponent this season to shoot under 30 percent.

In the Big Ten opener, Illinois held Minnesota to 30.5 percent shooting on its home floor, as the Gophers made just 19.2 percent (5-26) from 3-point range. In a 70-40 defeat of Michigan State on Feb. 18, the 40 points scored by the Spartans tied the fewest points allowed by Illinois in Big Ten play in Assembly Hall history.


Illinois has now held 13 of its last 19 opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field and has a total of 15 such defensive efforts this season. Coppin State's 37 points were the fewest allowed by the Illini since defeating Northwestern 63-30 on Feb. 19, 2000.

Illinois leads the Big Ten in field-goal defense percentage and is second in 3-point defense percentage and scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of just 61.0 points.

In the latest national statistics (as of Feb. 24) compiled by the NCAA, Illinois ranks second in field-goal defense percentage and seventh in scoring margin (plus 14.3), while ranking 14th in scoring defense (60.3).

Unselfish play

The 2002-03 Fighting Illini season has been trademarked with unselfish play. Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the nation (as of Feb. 24) in assists per game (18.2 average), highlighted by a season-high 25 assists versus Oakland, 24 versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and 23 against Western Illinois, North Carolina and Penn State. In the win over Coppin State, the Illini were credited with 21 assists on 22 made baskets, an amazing 96 percent of shots made. Illinois has tallied 20 or more assists in 10 games and has recorded assists on over 66 percent of its baskets (456 assists on 682 field goals) on the season.

Guards Dee Brown and Deron Williams are second and third in the Big Ten in assists with respective averages of 4.76 and 4.68 per game.

High-scoring Illini

Illinois is averaging 75.1 points per game this season, outscoring its opponents by an average of over 14.2 points per. Illinois is shooting 48.9 percent from the field, ranking 11th in the nation in field-goal percentage (NCAA Rankings as of Feb. 24), and has shot 50 percent or better in 13-of-25 games this season.

Illinois leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.489) and scoring margin (plus 14.2) and is second in scoring average (75.2) and 3-point shooting (.369). Four of Illinois' top six scorers are shooting 50 percent or better from the field.

The book on Cook

Senior Brian Cook, a preseason Big Ten Player of the Year selection, is proving the recognition was deserved. He may deserve more -- as in National Player of the Year candidate. Cook leads the Big Ten in scoring at 19.8 points per game (49th nationally as of Feb. 24), while ranking fourth in rebounding at 7.1 boards per contest. He also ranks 10th in the league in field-goal shooting (.508) and 11th in free-throw percentage (.805). Cook has been Illinois' leading scorer 16 times and leading rebounder 15 times in his 23 games this season.


[to top of second column in this article]

Cook's 31 points against Wisconsin Jan. 11 were a career high and the most by an Illinois player since Kevin Turner scored 35 versus Indiana on Jan. 3, 1998.

In one of the most inspiring performances in Illini hoops history, Cook scored 26 second-half points (to Michigan's 27) in leading the Illini from an 11-point deficit and knocking off the previously conference-undefeated Wolverines. Cook scored 19 points in the final 9:15 to finish with 30 for the game. Cook had a streak of consecutive made free throws come to an end at 32 on Jan. 4 against Oakland, tying Rob Judson and Andy Kaufmann for second place in school history for consecutive free throws.

Cook enters the Wisconsin game with 1,605 career points, sixth on the UI career scoring list and 48 points shy of Mark Smith for fifth place.

After sitting out the first two games of the season (along with teammate Jerrance Howard) as an NCAA penalty for playing in an unsanctioned summer basketball tournament, Cook returned and immediately established himself in the Illini lineup.

Cook has scored at least 15 points in all but three games this season, reaching 20 points or more 14 times. He's also had at least eight rebounds 10 times.

Cook's best scoring game came against Wisconsin with a career-high 31 points. Other top games were his 30 points and 26 points versus Michigan; 25 points against both Minnesota and Temple; 22 against North Carolina, Oakland, Purdue and Ohio State; 21 against Eastern Illinois and Memphis; and 20 versus Coppin State, Iowa and Purdue.

In the win over No. 11 Missouri, Cook scored 17, making all 10 of his free-throw attempts, and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

 Cook has been named one of 20 finalists for the Naismith Award, is one of 30 midseason candidates for the Wooden Award, is one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award and most recently was named a first team NABC all-District 11 selection.

Self milestones

Illinois head coach Bill Self should receive consideration for Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the only ranked conference team with three freshmen and one sophomore in the starting lineup. After winning Big Ten titles in his first two seasons, Self posted his 200th career win Feb. 22 against Northwestern and tied the Illini record as quickest to 70 wins at Illinois. Self is the only Big Ten coach on the list of 25 finalists for Naismith National College Coach of the Year.

Top 25 streak continues

Illinois began the week ranked No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, extending its streak to 55 consecutive polls in which the Illini have been ranked, including every poll during Bill Self's tenure. Illinois is also ranked No. 14 in this week's AP Top 25.

The Illini had a school-record streak of 30 straight polls in the Top 10 snapped in January 2002 but have never dropped out of the Coaches' Top 25 under Self.

Dee-lightful, Dee-pendable --
No Dee-bate, Dee can play

Who is the best freshman point guard in college basketball? It's hard to find a rookie guard who has made more of an impact than Illinois' Dee Brown. Brown has started every game and leads the Illini in minutes played (33.9 average). He has scored in double figures in 14 games and is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.1 points. Brown exploded for a career-high 25 points against Eastern Illinois on Dec. 10, hitting 10-of-14 shots, including a career-high five 3-pointers.

In two December performances in front of national television audiences, Brown first had a game-high 21 points with seven assists and five rebounds in Illinois' victory over No. 11 Missouri to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors on Dec. 21. He then followed with 19 points, including five 3-pointers, as well as three assists and three boards with no turnovers, in 37 minutes against Memphis.

 Brown had his best game in conference play against Michigan State on Feb. 18, scoring a game-high 24 points on eight-of-13 shooting with five rebounds, five assists and a career-high five steals.

Brown is second in the Big Ten in assists with 4.76 per game and also leads the league with an assist-turnover ratio of 2.53. He ranks 19th in the Big Ten in scoring at 12.1 points per game. One of the quickest guards in America, Brown's average of 1.80 steals per game leads the team and ranks third in the Big Ten.

Through 14 Big Ten games, Brown has totaled 68 assists with only 21 turnovers, leading the conference with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.24 in league play. In conference games only, Brown is tied for the league lead in assists and leads the league in steals and assist-turnover ratio.

Among the top freshmen in the league, he ranks among the top four in assists (first), points (fourth) and steals (first) per game.

In head-to-head matchups with other heralded freshman point guards, Brown held North Carolina's Raymond Felton to nine points (2-6 FG), three assists and eight turnovers. Michigan's Daniel Horton was three-of-17 from the field (seven points) with two assists and seven turnovers on Jan. 29. On March 1, Horton was four-of 17 from the field with five assists, five turnovers and 12 points.


Twice as nice --
Williams joins Brown in all-freshman backcourt

Dee Brown and Deron Williams make up one of the best freshmen backcourts in the nation. The two rank first and second, respectively, in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and have the Illini leading the Big Ten in team assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. Brown leads the team in minutes at 33.9 per game, but Williams is third at 27.1 minutes. Williams is averaging 6.4 points, is just two assists behind Brown for the team lead with 117 and is tied for second on the team in steals with 32. He ranks second in the Big Ten in assist-turnover ratio at 2.44 and is tied with Brown  for third in assists with an average of 4.68.

Air Rog takes off

Sophomore Roger Powell returned to the starting lineup with a bang over the last two weeks with strong performances against Michigan State, Northwestern, Indiana and Michigan, scoring at least 18 points in wins over the Wildcats, Hoosiers and Wolverines.

After starting the first nine games of the season, Powell suffered a toe injury against Memphis and sat out the next two games. A slow return from the injury pushed back his progress before a strong stretch of play beginning at Michigan State on Feb. 2.

Last week, Powell had 10 points and seven rebounds in the 70-40 win over Michigan State and a then-career-high 20 points and four rebounds in the victory over Northwestern.

Against Indiana, Powell set a new career high with 22 points and grabbed seven boards, making nine-of-13 shots. In the win at Michigan, Powell had 18 points and seven rebounds. In the last four games, he has combined to make 27-of-40 (.675) field goals in the four wins and now ranks second in the Big Ten in field-goal shooting at 60.7 percent (82-135). Powell ranks fourth on the team with an average of 8.8 points. In Big Ten play, Powell leads the league in field-goal shooting at 65.2 percent.

That's a 3 -- Sean Harrington

Senior Sean Harrington has been hot from behind the arc this season. He has made 54-of-122 treys, leading the Big Ten in 3-point field-goal percentage at 44.3 percent. Harrington nailed a career-high six 3-pointers in Illinois' win over North Carolina on Dec. 3 en route to 20 points and tied his mark by making six-of-eight treys on his way to 18 points against Coppin State. He tied it again with six-of-nine treys on his way to a career-high 22 points against Minnesota. Against Oakland, he had 20 points, connecting on five 3-pointers.

In his five games as a starter this season, Harrington averaged 13.8 points per game, including an average of 20.0 points in his first three starts. It was the first time in his career at Illinois that he scored in double figures in three straight games.

Harrington is third on the team with 56 assists and has just 22 turnovers, for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.54. He is third on the team with 25 steals. In games played at the Assembly Hall, Harrington is 33-65 (.508) from 3-point range.

Harrington ranks fourth on the UI career list with 181 3-point field goals.

Augie hot

Another member of the heralded Illini freshman class to shine has been newcomer James Augustine. He has bolstered the UI frontcourt, averaging 7.3 points, and is third in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage, shooting 60.3 percent from the field. He has scored in double figures seven times, recorded his first career double-double with season highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds versus Penn State, and followed with another as he had 11 points and 10 rebounds against Michigan. In addition, Augustine is second on the team -- behind Brian Cook -- in rebounding, averaging 5.9 boards. He has been Illinois' top rebounder in seven games, highlighted by his 12-rebound performance against Penn State. Augustine ranks 13th in the Big Ten in rebounding at 5.9 per game and 13th in blocked shots at .96 per game.

In Big Ten play only, Augustine ranks second to Roger Powell in field-goal shooting at 59.3 percent.

Bench play

The Illinois bench has been productive this season, averaging 18.9 points and 8.8 rebounds, while limiting the opponents' bench to 15.6 points and 9.1 rebounds. Illinois' bench is outscoring the opponents' bench by 3.3 points per game and nearly matching opponents in rebounding.

Bench numbers (points-rebounds):

Illinois 32-9, Lehigh 9-7

40-18, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 14-8

32-9, Western Illinois 14-6

39-14, North Carolina 7-1

20-9, Arkansas 19-13

12-13, Eastern Illinois 18-12

13-3, Temple 8-8

30-13, Missouri 26-11

17-12, at Memphis 11-15

12-10, Coppin State 6-8

11-10, Oakland 5-7

14-11, at Minnesota 36-17

9-6, Wisconsin 11-8

21-11, at Iowa 22-3

26-13, at Indiana 22-6

6-6, Purdue 18-11

19-8, at Penn State 20-7

8-4, Michigan 13-13

22-7, at Michigan State 30-13

25-3, Ohio State 6-15

12-9, at Purdue 23-11

17-6, Michigan State 15-16

6-4, Northwestern 4-2

11-18, Indiana 16-8

19-4, at Michigan 7-2

Total 473-220, opponents 390-228

[Provided by Kent Brown,
assistant athletics director and
sports information director,
University of Illinois]

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Articles from the past week


  • Lincoln swimmers, a big name in age-group championships

  • High school basketball

  • Preachers end season in regional final

  • Men's basketball pre-game notes: Illinois State vs. Southern Illinois


  • High school basketball results

  • LCC basketball results

  • Large challenge ahead for Redbirds

  • Big Ten single-session tickets on sale Monday

  • Zion Lutheran Lady Eagles heading for state


  • High school basketball

  • LCC vs. Northland Baptist

  • Cook chosen for NABC Division I all-district team

  • Men's basketball pre-game notes:

  • Illinois State at Indiana State

  • Illinois at Michigan


  • High school basketball

  • Redbirds drop Valley road game to Drake


  • High school basketball

  • High school wrestling

  • LCC teams enter postseason

  • Birds hope to continue as 'Willie Nelson's team'

  • Illini pay back Hoosiers in grand fashion

  • Cook makes life bearable for me


  • High school basketball

  • Men's basketball pre-game notes:

  • Illinois State at Drake

  • Illinois vs. Indiana

It was all Lincoln

By Jeff Mayfield

[MARCH. 3, 2003]  Sometimes the planets and stars align just right. Sometimes the good karma is flowing your way. And sometimes even the sports gods are looking favorably upon you. That's the way many sporting events have turned out for area residents through the last week. One of those contests was the always tough Lincoln-Lanphier battle…

Lincoln does it again

The Lincoln Railsplitters had one last tough assignment in CS8 play. And that was to beat the always difficult Lions of Lanphier High. No coach prides himself more on scouting and being prepared for Lincoln than former Railer coach Craig Patton. And late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter when Lanphier cut a substantial lead to four points, you began to worry. They even had chances to cut into the lead further, but the Railers would have none of that!

With the victory Lincoln now stands at an incredible 28-2 and ends up sharing the league title with Springfield Southeast. Postseason play is the next level for Lincoln, as they will host Springfield Tuesday night in their own regional.

Illini win one of biggest games ever

You may be wondering if you read that subtitle correctly. Is it just another Mayfield overstatement? In a word, no. It is one of the biggest victories ever because of the possible implications or consequences. The Illini had to at least split their remaining road games.

Kudos and props to Greg Taylor, Brad Neal, Tom Seggelke and a host of others who felt all along that Illinois could win at Michigan easier than at Wisconsin.


Normally, I would've agreed with them. But that was before I watched Michigan do everything but beat us in their last trip to the Hall. Thank God for Brian Cook, or we would've already been eliminated from the league race. It was also before I saw how much Michigan had improved and saw for myself that they were as good as anybody and better than most. Then, when you consider how tough it is to win on the road, especially the last few years in the league… Or when you analyze how young the Illini truly are… Not to mention that since Michigan is on probation (something I might vote for on a permanent basis), winning the league championship and tourney title is the only postseason that they will have. Weighing those options, the scales seemed to tip in favor of Michigan.

But, I didn't know that they weren't going to watch film and remember that No. 34 lit them up in the last meeting. I didn't know that Sean Harrington would find himself, and I didn't know that Dee Brown would want the ball in crunch time and make a huge midrange jumper to deliver a dagger.

And did you happen to see the ball screen that Cook used to free up Brown? Or how 'bout the pick Cook displayed freeing up James Augustine for another nail in the coffin? Cook only had 26 points, seven rebounds, five assists and may have even helped usher some of the patrons to their seats, especially with the last 3-pointer that he nailed!

I agree with longtime central Illinois resident John Coady, who once said that if you could place microphones over the TV rooms of fans all over the state in games like yesterday's, the noise level would be nuclear or louder. The final possessions of either half would certainly, I think, prove Mr. Coady's hypothesis!


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Oh, and the biggest reason that I think this win was one of the biggest ever was because the victory gives Illinois a chance to three-peat for the first time ever in their history.

In an unrelated development, I think that Brian Cook may have solidified his position as the possible player of the year in the league. It may also help him get consideration for national player of the year honors.

STILL if you would've told me in November that this team would be 20-5 with a realistic shot at yet another Big Ten championship, I would've laughed, given you a stamp and mailed it in for you! Who knows? Maybe we can even win at Wisconsin…

Congratulations, Lynx

CONGRATULATIONS to the Lincoln College Lynx on winning the Collegiate Conference of Central Illinois league title with a 15-1 record. With Saturday's 83-64 victory over John Wood, LC extended their sparkling record to 22-7 overall. They will play a first-round game in the Region XXIV Tournament Friday at Southwestern.

Lady Lynx tonight

We believe you can catch the Lady Lynx in a first-round game at home tonight at 5:30, as LC is seeded seventh. They will take a 16-14 record into the postseason.

Not everyone…

…had the karma flowing. LCC's teams did for at least one night, as both the ladies and the men won exciting first-round regional matchups. The ladies had their chances in round two in Wyoming, Mich., but just came up short. The LCC men, on the other hand, had their hands full with the always phenomenal Maranatha Baptist team. Maranatha took out the Preachers early and often, and before you knew it, their season was over.

But what a nice feature on them on WAND! And congratulations to coach Randy Kirk and the men for sticking through one of the most obstacle-filled seasons this reporter can ever remember. Lesser men would've folded up their tent and gone home months ago. What you men did by sticking out the season with dignity is a testament to your strong character. Too bad there are no trophies for that.


Please join my good friend Greg Taylor tonight at 6 right here on LDN or on CITV Channel 5 or FIX 96.3 as he hosts Josh Gallagher and John Peters from the Lincoln Railers basketball team. Call 735-3306 with your question or comment on the Railers, the Illini, the Cubs, the Cards or yesterday's wrestling!

Have a good week, everyone, and good luck, Railers and Illini!!!

[Jeff Mayfield]


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