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Snow-filled Mutterings

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By Jeff Mayfield

[FEB. 9, 2004]  If you're going to be a sportswriter, it's probably a pretty good idea to attend a lot of sporting events. That just hasn't been the case for this semiprofessional writer the last couple of months. With lots of piled-up work begging to get some attention, some speaking engagements and some travel occupying the time, sporting events in my life have just been few and far between. Luckily for us, we have a good crew of sources who do attend about anything with either a ball in it or some kind of scoring account witnessed. Hopefully, we'll be back on the scene for you soon and we'll get back into the fray. Here's what was reported to us about this weekend's sports action…

Railers split. I didn't hear much good about the game at Lanphier Friday night. To some extent that might have been expected, as the Lions were the hottest team other than the Railers going in; AND if you believe that you MUST defend the home court, then there you have it. I know that Coach Alexander wanted to win-out, but I still think the Railers are in good position. Also, in a custom that has become all too familiar during the Alexander era, Lincoln righted the ship the very next night with a convincing victory over Normal West that likely will have seeding implications. Needless to say, the Railers are still in a spot to continue to surprise all doubters and skeptics!

Lady Railers iced out. It seems like every time the Lady Railers are ready to play, we get hit with a snow or ice storm. Hopefully, the downtime has been good for injuries to heal and to work stuff into the program.

Lady Lynx narrowly missed a chance to upset the No. 2 in the nation ICC team out of Peoria. A few missed free-throw opportunities down the stretch were all that prevented the upset!

The Lynx narrowly lost to ICC as well and moved to 5-5 in the league.

Speaking of junior college basketball… How 'bout the game last week featuring three former Railers in it? That's right. Parkland's Chris Bunch's 21 points and Erik Young's 12 points upended a Lincoln Land team led by Cory Farmer's 16 points. It's great to see so many former Railers enjoying success on the collegiate hardwood!

LCC's Angels beat St. Louis Pharmacy, while LCC's men lost a tough one at Elgin.

Are the Illini back on track? Many people think so after a nice win at Minnesota yesterday. I did catch most of this one but would have preferred to view it at the Barn otherwise known as Williams Arena. I've been there before but not for an Illini game.

 

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The guards are getting lots of props, as Dee Brown had 18 points and Deron Williams had 13 and a season-high 11 assists. But don't forget the big men. Big Nick Smith exploded off the bench with 13 points and James Augustine was back in double figures for the first time in a few weeks with 10.

As to whether Illinois is back on track, I just don't know. I think the Gophers are better than their record, but they haven't won a league game. And Indiana… I just don't know how good they are.

So, I guess I'm reserving judgment until I see how the Illini fare versus Michigan State and Wisconsin. I know you'll hate me when I say that a split of those two games would be a pretty good outcome. I do agree with you that the Illini must win both to have ANY intention of trying to win the Big Ten championship. But isn't it nice to at least be discussing the possibilities? A couple of weeks ago a trip to New York and the NIT was looking like a long shot.

Jim Benson, of the Pantagraph, is now predicting the crown to be shared by the Badgers and the Spartans at 12-4, and I think that's pretty smart money. I sure hope he and I are wrong!

ISU lost a rough game at Southwest Missouri State 69-57. Lincoln's Gregg Alexander had six points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal.

How 'bout that Pro Bowl game? The NFC beat the AFC 55-52 in the highest scoring Pro Bowl of all time, which included Marc Bulger of the Rams throwing for a record four TD passes.

The NHL also staged its All-Star Game yesterday, won by the East 6-4 in Minnesota.

That's all for me. Have a GREAT week, everybody!

[Jeff Mayfield]

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