previous column I already spoke of LCC's Hall of Fame weekend and
its festivities. I will add that the weekend tournament was really
I submit my
early apologies to those CITV-5 viewers who have already grown weary
of my voice… Greg Taylor had a funeral, and that's why you'll have
to hear me as the play-by-play voice (not my strong suit) on the
Angel broadcast. I got to greet most if not all of the returning
Hall of Fame inductees and players who were back for the alumni
And yes, I played in the alumni
game. And yes, we use the term "play" rather loosely at the LDN! I
was just happy to get up and down the court a few times without
getting injured. Craig Zastrow and I remarked after the game that
now that we're getting older we don't seem to get as many "touches"
as we used to get… What's up with that?
All in all it was a great weekend of
festivities. Our congratulations once again to all the inductees.
Hopefully the weekend will spur the Preachers and the Angels on to
the national tourney once again! By the way, both of LCC's teams
looked good in wins this weekend!
As you can see by my itinerary, I
missed most of the festivities at the U of I this week. And what a
special weekend they put in place. They had in attendance over 350
players, coaches, managers and support staff who have been
associated with the university's hoops program over the last 100
years. They also introduced all players and had a special tribute
and ceremony for the 20-player All Century team as voted by the
fans. That team included Lincoln's Brian Cook, who got a huge
ovation and was represented by his mom, Joyce Cook. Other members
with local roots are Bill Rucks Jr., Dave Downey, Gene Vance, and
there were others.
As an alum of both LCC and the UI, I
can't tell you how proud I am of both schools. And what an emotional
experience both of these events were! I realized this week how
blessed I was to be able to play college basketball and how
privileged I was to coach it. Other than the vocation I am trained
in, there may not be a closer-knit community or fraternity than the
one that exists in basketball.
People tell me that I waste a lot of
time on it since it's "only" a game. I find those comments
insensitive and offensive. Many of my basketball friends' best
character traits are those they learned and honed through
basketball. If I have any good ones, I'm sure I got the majority of
them through my hoops experience as well.
No, it's more than a game. It's way
more than a game. It's an environment that transforms selfish little
boys into unselfish, team-thinking life conquerors. If you think I
overstated it here… you probably never played college basketball.
care of business
When Bachman Turner Overdrive penned
the song "Taking Care of Business," they might have had the Illinois
Fighting Illini in mind. Many members of the media were concerned
that with so much hoopla going on around the Assembly Hall this past
week that the Illini players would not be very focused. They further
contended that after the huge, emotional win at Wisky that snapped
Bucky's 38-game home-court winning streak that the Illinois players
would come out flat and have a huge letdown.
Well, if you call coming out of the
gate on a 10-1 run to start the game, coming out flat, then so be
it. The Illini didn't mess around and never let what's so far the
surprise team of the Big Ten ever have a hint that they would be in
the game. Williams, Powell and Augustine took it over early and
often and seemed to send a message to visiting dignitaries and the
crowd alike: You can keep on celebrating because… "we do this!"
[to top of second column in
Illinois shot 56 percent from the
field for the game, outrebounded the physical Gophers 37-31 and
out-assisted them 21-11. They put four players in double figures,
but they gave Luther Head some time off for good behavior and made
him contribute only 10 points in this 89-66 contest.
was played before one of the largest crowds ever at the Assembly
Hall, as 16,694 patrons crammed in and partied all afternoon. Kenny
Battle and Kendall Gill got huge ovations, but Lucas Johnson really
rocked the house when he came out of the tunnel. It was hard for
Cook to get that same kind of love. However, in the midst of perhaps
the most special season in Illini history, is it coincidence or not
that this year's team is 21-0 and No. 1 in the nation during the
school's 100th season? Who cares! I'm celebrating basketball!!!
Lincoln's only current NBAer tickled
the twine for 13 points and seven rebounds as the Lakers put away
the Bobcats of Charlotte. And talk about efficiency… Cook did all of
that in only 15 minutes of action.
L.A. hosts Portland on Tuesday night
and San Antonio on Thursday.
valiant road effort
It seems as though the Redbirds are
not satisfied playing in the Illini shadow. So, for an encore
Saturday night they nearly shocked the basketball world by just
failing to upset Wichita State, falling late 78-72. For those just
tuning in, the Shockers are rated by many as the top mid-major in
the country. The 'Birds never got that memo and made a case that
they themselves should be considered in that category! Lincoln's
Gregg Alexander did all he could do by nailing three 3s on his way
to nine points, but it wasn't enough to carry ISU to victory. The
loss moves ISU to 14-6 in front of Tuesday night's game at Drake.
All they do is win
You can question and second-guess
LCHS coach Neil Alexander all you want. Maybe you don't like him.
Maybe you don't like the way he goes about his business. Maybe you
don't like the ball press or his zone defense. Maybe you don't like
a lot of things.
But if you doubt him, then maybe you
don't see the genius behind yet another 20-win season. I think that
he'll never be fully appreciated until long after he's gone. Someone
will pick up a program or see the records and say, "Who was this
Alexander guy who won 20 games every season?"
The Railers roll on as a finely
oiled machine, taking care of Sacred Heart-Griffin on Friday and
Canton on Saturday… Who's next?
I should have more girls' sports
reports and should be able to update you on many other sports
endeavors, but I can't. I can tell you about a phenomenal tennis
match I stayed up and watched the other night between the Aussie
Molik and America's Lindsey Davenport. It was one of the greatest
matches I have ever viewed, as Molik repeatedly fought off match
points to extend the fray. Davenport did too, but in the end she was
just too powerful to be defeated. If you missed it, you missed one
of the best Grand Slam matches in Australian Open history. Wish I
were in better shape to spend some time on the court.
That's a whole 'nother story… but
I'm still too busy celebrating basketball. Have a great week,