Historically, the Illini have not played well in cheese land, and I
think somebody mentioned that the Badgers have some kind of a little
winning streak that they're all puffed up about (actually it's a
fairly impressive 38-game home-court winning streak, but far be it
from me to keep track of Bucky's little adventures).
However, in many ways this is a
different Illini team making its way to Dairyland. These guys have
already been battle-tested. They have played games in several
locales around the country and have escaped unscathed. What I would
give to see them do it again on Tuesday night?
They will have to bring their most
physical presence all year. They will have to rebound the rock like
they did in the second half and in overtime against Iowa. They will
have to ignore the way the game is called and all the other usual
distractions. They will have to ward off one of the nation's best
and rowdiest crowds. They will need to execute coach Weber's game
plan down to every jot and tittle. They will need to be physically
tough, mentally rugged and resolved to take no prisoners.
Perhaps, they should take a page out
of ISU's playbook. The Redbirds went on the road to Creighton in a
game that saw them as huge underdogs. Down by six with less than two
minutes to play, to most it seemed hopeless. BUT, not to the
Redbirds. And when senior fireballer Trey Guidry connected with four
seconds left in regulation, ISU got an invite to overtime on the
road. Guidry and Gordon got the Redbirds in position and point guard
Vince Greene nailed 6-for-6 free throws at the line to cage the
The Redbirds were valiant and
courageous in taking their amazing season to a record of 13-5 and
5-3. The Illini will have to match their counterparts' efforts
should they desire to go 20-0!
do neutral court damage
As has become his custom, Lincoln
coach Neil Alexander takes his guys on the road and to tournaments
where they will play tough teams. They will encounter all styles of
play and all kinds of environments. Yet another ingredient in
annually winning 20 games or more... and usually doing it all with
an admittedly undersized team. But not many basketball pundits are
able to measure the size of the kids' hearts in Lincoln. And because
they can't, they don't know what we're made of.
Alton found out on Saturday night.
In a 51-30 thrashing, Lincoln only put one man in double figures. An
outstanding performance by Matt Schick saw him light the 3-point
lamp not once, not twice, but SEVEN times on his way to 21 points.
Though the Railers were outrebounded only 20-18, they more than made
up for it in the turnover department. Lincoln forced 15 Alton
miscues while committing only four themselves.
Further evidence to support my
theory is the way this team perennially bounces back from tough
losses. No doubt Lincoln's league loss that preceded this contest
was a bump in the road, but you don't see the Railers wallowing
around in much self-pity. They come out the next game and destroy
the opponent. That's what mental toughness and extra effort will do
As for me and my house, we'll take
the kids with more heart EVERY time!
Railers exact some revenge
Lincoln's Lady Railers had a score
to settle with SH-G. They did so the other night with a thrilling
45-31 payback. This game snapped a two-game losing streak, finds the
ladies at 11-8 and 6-3, and I think should be good enough to find
Lincoln in second place in the league. More importantly I think
they're coming together at just the right time!
This weekend LCC will be hosting its
second annual Hall of Fame Classic. Tell 'em at the door that Greg
Taylor and I sent you to get tickets for a game, and don't forget to
congratulate a fine slate of HOF inductees along the way. For more
The LDN salutes the inductees:
Howard Merchant, Harry Orn, Bob Phillips, Larry Leathermon, Jim
Williamson, Amanda Siddens-Bowman, Stephanie Nangle-Farr and Matt
of Illinois basketball
The Illini are hosting some
festivities of their own this weekend as over 300 former players,
coaches and managers are planning to return to the Assembly Hall to
help celebrate 100 years of Illini basketball. It promises to be a
special treat, followed by a tough game with the Minnesota Golden
Gophers. What player would you like to see again?
Lincoln's Joyce Cook will represent
Brian, who was chosen to the 20-man All-Century team! Brian and his
Lakers are obviously in the middle of their season, making him
unavailable for this huge event.
[to top of second column in
He had seven points, five rebounds
and a blocked shot in 20 minutes of action this weekend. He helped
lead the Lakers to another victory -- this one over yours truly's
favorite boyhood team, the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers are now
22-16 and in third place. They will see how good they are Tuesday
night as they will host arguably the league's best team, the Seattle
Greg and I talked about this during
the opening days of "FANdamonium this year." We hoped other teams
would fare better (like the Bears, Rams and Colts), but we
"suspected" that the usual suspects like the Eagles and the Patriots
would make it back to the BIG game again. I don't think we went out
on any limbs there, but just saying…
Those Patriots have quite a team,
but maybe the Eagles can find some way to give them a game.
Somewhere I can hear Mark Luzadder screaming uncontrollably for his
The father or grandfather of
Illinois basketball, Lou Henson, is finally hanging up his whistle
down in Las Cruces, N.M. Lou is only 21 wins shy of 800 and is like
the fifth or sixth winningest coach ever. Henson plans to be at the
Assembly Hall this weekend and will likely bring down the house when
he makes his appearance. He's brought it down before.
One of the first years (maybe even
the first) the Illini did Midnight Madness, it was of course on
Halloween, and that was the theme of the night. They played eerie
music and had fog machines cranking out the smoke. They then
introduced some of the players and coaches, and then the captains
solemnly carried out a coffin to midcourt, sort of signifying our
respects to all of the potential victims on the schedule. Just then
the music changed and a spotlight shone down on the casket. The lid
flew off and out popped Lou!
I still can't believe he let them
put him in there for those few minutes. It was one of the funniest
things I have ever seen and in a strange way gave me a new respect
for Lou. That little gimmick brought down the house!
All of us here at the LDN thank
Henson for everything he has meant to Illinois basketball and for
putting it on the map. We congratulate him and the 300 other great
Illini returnees for all their heroics on our behalf… OSKEWAWA!!!
Late-night king is gone
I love people with smiles on their
faces. I love the eternal optimists. They have a zeal and a zest for
life that is unquenched and that cannot be diminished. Oftentimes
they are great storytellers. Some of them are so quick on their feet
that they never miss a beat and seem to make sure that EVERYONE is
having a good time.
That's what the legend Johnny Carson
was to me. No matter what kind of a day I had, I could always turn
on the "Tonight Show" and know that I would be entertained. I knew
that if I listened to Johnny, the worst problems or situations on my
mind would somehow seem lighter.
I would always look forward to
seeing one of my best friends, Lynn Laughlin, the next day. Neither
one of us would have to say a word; we would just glance at each
other and bust out laughing. Nine out of 10 times we were thinking
of the exact same joke. I have greatly missed those occasions.
The other sad thing that happens
when an icon dies is that it makes me realize that none of us is
getting any younger either.
Why not make someone's life a little
brighter this week? Why not do it today?
At any rate, we salute the king of
late-night television. It is doubtful to me if we'll ever see anyone
quite like him.
I told you that Tiger was lurking!
He didn't play his best but still won the Buick Invitational in this
writer's home county by three strokes. Arguably the rest of the
field broke down all around and left Tiger as the only man standing.
It was his first PGA Tour title on home soil in 16 months. I told
you he was lurking…
That's it for me folks… Have a great