Lincoln Daily News.com
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Lincoln, IL 62656
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My name is Ron Wilson, formerly of
Lincoln, Ill., now living in Painted Post, N.Y., (Corning) where
fancy glassware is made. My wife and I just attended the Illini-Penn
State basketball game at State College, Pa., on Jan. 25 to see Brian
Cook and the Illini play. We have attended each one of his games the
last four years when the Illini played out here in the Northeast:
three at State College and one in February 2002 at the Meadowlands
in New Jersey. I believe one-half of the crowd at the Meadowlands
was Orange and Blue.
Now back to Jan. 25. The game reset was
just as described by Greg Taylor in his recent column ["Illinois
survives trip to Penn State"]. We were about 10 rows up and over
about 30 feet from the Illini bench, so you could see the numbers on
the shirts without binoculars, and let me tell you that even when
Brian was on the bench he wanted back in the game badly. Finally in
the second half with about three minutes and 30 seconds to play,
Coach put Brian (four fouls) back in. Augustine fouled out, and did
it pay off, as Brian hit a shot in the paint and then a soft hook
shot, and that was it! When Brian went in the score was 66, and at
the next TV timeout, it was 73-54. Final: Illini 75, Penn State 63.
(Penn State made a little run at end.)
There were plenty of Orange and Blue at
the game but especially two groups that we met and chatted with. One
group sitting in front of us drove up from Washington, D.C. (about
3½-4 hours). It seems one man was from Peoria and one from
Springfield. The gentleman from Springfield knew Eric Robinson, as
well as all about Lincoln High basketball. He asked about the Railer
post-game presentation. I said it's the same except now the players
run through a canvas/plastic-type opening instead of busting through
(as in the olden days) a paper Railer -- always had to be replaced.
I told him it is the only basketball game I have attended that
builds that much hype. Pep band -- none like the Railer pep band.
The Illini group from D.C. dressed in orange and blue Illini
T-shirts went home happy.
The other group, a family and three small children decked out in
orange and blue, we met after the game while waiting for the
players. It so happens they were originally from Naperville
(Chicago) and were now living in Hershey, Pa. (about 2½ hours from
Beaver Valley) -- about like from Corning to State College, Pa.
[to top of second column in this
After 30 minutes or
so, an assistant coach for Illinois (Harrington look-alike) went in
to tell Brian some fans from Lincoln, Ill., were waiting to see him.
Shortly, out came Brian with his Illini "I" jacket on and lumbered
up to say hello. But before he got to us, the Hershey, Pa., family
asked for a portrait of Brian and their three children. So there is
Brian at 6-9 and three children, who were all about 3-feet tall,
hanging onto Brian as the picture was snapped. After autographs on
hats, shirts, tennis shoes, Brian came over, signed my book and we
talked about his hometown, school and his family for four-five
minutes, and then a little guy in orange came up and asked him to
come meet his family. After a handshake and a hug for my wife, off
he went. What a great young man. The town of Lincoln, Lincoln High
School and his family can be proud of this young man.
After some autographs
from Dee Brown, Luther Head and Deron Williams and a short chat and
handshake with coach Self, the team was off to catch a plane back to
Illinois, and we headed back to Painted Post, N.Y., by way of the
Penn State Creamery for some Paterno Peach ice cream (named after
football coach Joe Paterno).
While we do not live
in Lincoln, Ill., we do try to get back two to three times a year to
visit with relatives, friends and my mother. One of those visits is
normally in August for the Logan County Fair (also to watch harness
racing), and while on one of those visits a few years ago we became
acquainted with LDN at the display booth they had set up in the
exhibition buildings. Was it ever hot that year! We picked up some
information, and when we returned to Painted Post we got set up on
the Internet and plugged into LDN for our news source for Lincoln
and Logan County news.
So it has been with
great interest that we have been able to keep up with the sports
news about all the local teams from Lincoln and Logan County as well
as the Redbirds and the Illini. The articles this year by Jeff
Mayfield ("Mayfield's Mutterings") and Greg Taylor and the photos by
Tom Seggelke and Bob Frank have you sitting right at courtside -- as
an example, the recent photos and stories of two former Railers,
Cook (Illini) and Alexander (Redbirds), helping in their team
Cook overwhelm Ohio State" and
"Alexander, Redbird defense shine on Lincoln Day," posted in LDN
on Feb. 10] So keep up the good work!
Ronald H. Wilson
Painted Post, N.Y.