Sunday, January 30, 2005

Lou Henson led the 'Flyin Illini' to the Final Four in 1989 (Seattle). 779 career wins. He'll be walking soon again.  Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Old school uni's today for Roger and the Illini over Minnesota.  Posted by Hello

13 teams....

13 teams have had perfect regular seasons in modern college basketball. None of them have won the National Title. Can you say calling?

Illinois celebrated its 100th year of b-ball today. Lou was there and so were a bunch of old stars like Gilll, Battle, Bardo, and others. The March to the Arch continues.

I'm looking forward to Kansas, Carolina, and Illinois to make it to St. Louis this year. Who will be the 4th? And, who will win it all?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Best Arenas in America...

Allen Fieldhouse (Kansas)
I know I've suffered some hearing loss in this building. The old barn feel of this place is so nostalgic that it's hard to envision Kansas ever losing here.

Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke)
The press row seats are a fire hazard and having sweaty students literally drip on you isn't pleasant but the atmosphere rocks.

Mac Court (Oregon)
The talk of dumping this relic and building a new spot downtown should stop. The overhang balcony has a theatre-like feel and the noise level, as well as the humidity from the moist air can make for an imposing home court.

Maples Pavilion (Stanford)
I know they've redone the place but I'll never forget interviewing Mike Montgomery amid crazed Stanford students, bouncing up and down on the springboard floor and being forced off my feet after Nick Robinson's 3-pointer beat Arizona last season. Trying to write on press row was a constant circus, as your pen would jump whenever a player passed or the fans continued to stomp.

The Palestra (Penn)
I'm not local to the city but I've been converted to the history of this joint. The love affair this city has with its D-I college hoops comes together at this shrine. The viewing from press row is perfect, although your back will likely be aching sitting on the bench seating. It's hard not to enjoy a game in this venue.

Gallagher-Iba Arena (Oklahoma State)
It's hard to believe I haven't been to this house just yet. I'll be there for Texas-OSU on March 5 to get this off my list.

Memorial Gymnasium (Vanderbilt)
The unique position of the benches and Vandy's usual home-court dominance make this a must see.

Hilton Coliseum (Iowa State)
Every game that is broadcast from this venue is crazed. You wonder how the Cyclones would ever lose a home game.

The RAC (Rutgers)
Big East coaches talk about how tough a road game this is for them so I've got to experience it first hand.

Bud Walton Arena (Arkansas)
If Stan Heath can get the Hogs going like Nolan did, then this will once again be one of the toughest stops in the country and I'll have to go see it to cross it off my list.

Pat Forde
Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke)
Wonderfully quaint building where the home school buys into the wonderfully quaint notion that the student body deserves the best seats. And the student body responds by creating the best atmosphere in the game.

Bud Walton Arena (Arkansas)
Doesn't rock like it used to, but during the "40 Minutes of Hell" salad days the atmosphere was incredible. Great pep band and adults in Hog hats top it off.

Freedom Hall (Louisville)
The home team puts 19,000 in the stands every game, and the sideline seats offer the best sight lines in America. As the site of six NCAA Tournament finals, it's hard to beat the building's history.

Assembly Hall (Indiana)
In an era of tricked-up sound systems, luxury boxes and excessive audiovisual bling, this is still an old-school gym. You walk in and immediately smell the popcorn. And when the Hoosiers play well, it's really loud.

Rupp Arena (Kentucky)
Worth the trip just to see the banners in the rafters. And you never know when Ashley Judd is going to turn up in the stands.

The Palestra (Penn)
I've heard so much about the history of the place that my basketball life wouldn't be complete without a trip.

Gallagher-Iba Arena (Oklahoma State)
Some people say this is the loudest gym in America.

The Pit (New Mexico)
Other people say this is the loudest gym in America.

Mac Court (Oregon)
Cool throwback gym.

McCarthey Athletic Center (Gonzaga)
Didn't get to see the old Kennel, so this one will have do.

Fran Fraschilla
The Palestra (Penn)
Nothing better than eating a pretzel with mustard and watching a Big 5 game here.

Allen Fieldhouse (Kansas)
It doesn't matter if they are playing UMKC or Oklahoma State, the fans feel like they are breathing down your neck.

St. John Arena (Ohio State)
The home of Lucas, Havlicek, Kellogg and (Jim) Jackson, this place had atmosphere. The balcony seemed to overhang the court.

The Pit (New Mexico)
I had a couple big wins here, but not as many as Bob King and Norm Ellenberger. You had to be in great condition to walk up the ramp from the floor.

Gallagher-Iba Arena (Oklahoma State)
Once a great old building, the renovation and expansion has made this place twice as great (and less old).

Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler)
The place where Jimmy Chitwood made his clutch shot in Hoosiers and the home of a good mid-major.

Mac Court (Oregon)
I hope my travels take me there some day.

Breslin Center (Michigan State)
The Izzone is a classy and enthusiastic student section.

Kohl Center (Wisconsin)
Any place with 38 wins in a row must be special. Will it continue?

Dahlberg Arena (Montana)
The place where Jud Heathcote and Mike Montgomery made their reputations. I love Montana and Grizz fans love their basketball.

Jay Bilas
All-Time Best: Cameron Indoor Stadium: I played there for four years, and was an assistant coach there for three, and there is no other place like it. Where else can world class athletes be intimidated by an unruly mob of MENSA members? As good as it is now, it used to be better (with the exception of the Speedo guy). It was dark and hot, the crowd would throw tennis balls back and forth during warm-ups, and some of the chants were politically incorrect to say the least. The best places in the country have real character, and Cameron has character. The only place I have been where the players routinely laugh at what the crowd is doing.

The Palestra (Penn)
I played there, and it is one of the true gems of the sports world, right up there with Wrigley Field.

Allen Fieldhouse (Kansas)
The Phog just oozes tradition. It's great for a game, and equally great when it is empty. Awesome.

Assembly Hall (Illinois)
Every game I have ever seen there has been a great atmosphere and rocking. The most underrated venue in college basketball.

The RAC (Rutgers)
The Scarlet Knights play great there, and the crowd is right on top of you and intimidating. A friend said to me at the RAC: "If the Pistons and Pacers had their fight here, they wouldn't have dared to go up into the stands!"

Gallagher-Iba Arena (Oklahoma State)
The Cameron of the midwest. One of the finest collegiate Halls of Fame I have seen. Strong.

Reilly Center (St. Bonaventure)
I played there once, and saw a bunch of games there. Cold outside, hot inside, and a tough place to play when the Bonnies are good. Some similar qualities as the RAC.

Williams Arena (Minnesota)
Elevated floor, overhanging upper deck. Just a great old barn.

Memorial Gymnasium (Vanderbilt)
I played there, and love this place. Clever students, elevated court, and the benches are on the baselines. Odd and character-filled.

Hec Ed (Washington)
Renovated and a great atmosphere. People in purple are making that house jump.

UD Arena (Dayton)
Few places have had as many NCAA Tournament games, and UD Arena houses some of the most passionate and knowledgable fans in the college game. A real gem.

Vitale's Take on Illinois...

an. 25, 2005
MADISON, Wis. -- Madison was the capital of the college basketball world on Tuesday night. It was excitement galore as the Grateful Red fans tried to cheer on their Badgers to a 39th consecutive home win. Illinois was going for its 20th straight victory. Something had to give.

In the end, it was the resiliency of Bruce Weber's team, coming back from an eight-point deficit in the second half, that got Illinois to the winner's circle. Those kids wouldn't go away after Wisconsin went on a 12-0 run to build a 56-48 lead.

Then Illinois had a look in its eyes, and like a true champion, the Illini fought back. There was unbelievable intensity and emotion all night, and the Orange Crush prevailed 75-65. The final score didn't indicate how close this really was. It truly was a great college basketball game.

The athleticism and quickness of the Illini made a big difference, as did free-throw shooting down the stretch. The Illini's ability to convert -- they made 17 of 20 -- was a major plus. And they made big plays in the halfcourt offense in the last 10 minutes when they took over the game.

One player who provided a big spark was Jack Ingram, who hit a couple of key 3-pointers in the second half. Suddenly the bench provided the energy needed for the comeback.

It was a thrilling night as both the Illini and Badgers played with pride and emotion, representing their respective schools so well.

Illinois' guard trio of Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head plays well together. They were a big part of the Illini offense once again. Head led all scorers with 18 points, and Williams is so unselfish, maybe even too unselfish. It is so tough to pressure those guys because of their quickness and ballhandling ability.

I was thrilled to see the Badgers fans give their team a standing ovation after the Kohl Center win streak was snapped. They are a class act, and were clearly appreciative about the accomplishments of this Wisconsin squad. Those Badgers played their hearts out. It is incredible to think this was their first Big Ten home loss under Bo Ryan (now 26-1).

Now the question is, can Illinois run the table and go unbeaten through the Big Ten? I don't think anyone will beat them in Champaign, where the Orange Crush go wild and the Illini escaped with a tight win over Iowa. If Weber's team can win in the Izzone next week at East Lansing -- and beating Michigan State is never easy there -- then I think there is a good chance the Illini will duplicate the feat of St. Joseph's from last season -- going perfect through the regular season.

For now, the fans in Champaign are celebrating big time, baby! Being 20-0 in this day and age is something truly special.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Send this st

James was a difference down low late! Posted by Hello

Coach Webber telling it like it is... Posted by Hello

Roger was a beast down low at the Kohl! Posted by Hello


Well, that was all of a game and then some. Rarely do big matchups tun out to be as good in reality. This was a classic that lived up to all expections. And, we won too.

But, I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's not what you do in January that matters as much as what you do in February. Then comes March and April. That's what's so great about college b-ball, every game gets more and more important than the last. Bring on the Gophers. We get the Spartans next Tuesday in East Lansing. Does it get any better than this?

Here' s my technical summary:
1) We won the battle at the stripe. They didn't shoot well from the charity line. Might have been the difference in the game right there. Pretty amazing when you consider the crowd noise and the back-drops.

2) We had great ball movement tonight on offense. Everybody was moving and cutting without the ball. That's a good sign. Lots of motion creates easy opportunities and we took advantage down the stretch.

3) Who's more clutch than Luther Head? Hard to answer that question. But right now he is carrying the team. Sure Powell, Augustine, and Williams had good games (not great games). But Luther is proclaiming his arrival on the seen in Champaign.

4) Who's smoother with the ball than Deron Williams? He looks good going inside, outside, left, or right. He has a great jump shot from just inside the arc. He'll have to heat up and stay hot in the tourney for us to have a legitimate shot at the title.

5) Then there is the emotional team leader; speedy Gonzales himself - Dee Brown. Is there a faster man on the hardwood today; college or pro? I think NOT.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Getting ready for the big game! Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Roger slashing for 2! Posted by Hello

Luther to the rescue! Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Roger 'Mc Nasty' Powell will not be denied.  Posted by Hello

At all costs. Thanks James! Posted by Hello

Show me the passion! Posted by Hello

Luther - give me the effort! Posted by Hello

D-Brown reminds people of the obvious Posted by Hello

19-0 and the best ever!

Well Well Well. What else is there to be said? 19-0 is the best starting record in school history at Illinois (EL-IN-OYE!). Hitting the 15 win mark this season marked 1500 total wins for the program in its first 100 years of basketball. Only 15 other programs can say that.

Sure, the Iowa game was closer than we would have liked. Yep - we shot only 32% a season low and well below the 58% average. But, sometimes you just have find a way to win no matter the roadblocks. And, that's what happened Thursday night in Champaign against the Hawkeyes, who are by the way a great team under Alford.

Augustine was sick and Williams was in foul trouble most of the game that night. Nobody was hot from the field except Head. That's why it's good to have team talent and chemistry. These guys feed off each other and play as a team. They may not be the most talented but they are the best TEAM in the game today; no doubt.

Now, looking to the next game in the Kohl Center against the hated Badgers of UW. Well - that is going to be a tough one. 38-0 versus 19-0; something has to give. The badgers are a great team and are even greater at home in Madison. That is one of the toughest places to play in the country, no question. It was designed for basketball and not a common-use facility. The fans are right down on the court with the players. It will be our toughest challenge of the year to date. Bottomline, nobody wins in Madison at the Kohl Center. They always get the calls from the referees. I think statistically it's the best home-court officiating advantage in the game if you know what I mean.

Keys for an Illini victory (and it is possible; but unlikely):

1) Limit their chances and 2nd chances. They can't own the boards; especially on offense.
2) No knock-out punches fed by the home-court advantage. Surey that place will be rockin'.
3) Play our game and play it well. Don't try to mix it up down low. We run and must do it.
4) Play solid defense and use it to drive the fast-break machine (best in the game; no doubt).
5) Hit shots - especially the 3-ball. We average 25 / game. We need to make at least 10.
6) Have fun and play as a team. That is our strength. Nobody does it better right now. This is the most exciting team in the game to watch.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Leinart and the Trojans were dominant in the Orange.  Posted by Hello

Campbell and the Tigers picked about the Hokies Posted by Hello

Sugar and Orange Wraps...

Looks like the Trojans will be your national champs - pretty safe call even at halftime given the score after the first half. Wow, what a dominating performance on such a big stage. To be honest, this is kind of what I expected from them against Oklahoma. The Trojans have more talent and athletes at just about every position on the field. But their greatest strength probably lies in their coaches. What a complete system.

XBOX was right - I had a feeling SC would own this game but not like this at halftime. It's their year. Something about destiny. It was on their side.

This one was over when SC shanked a punt and Oklahoma muffed the return deep in their own territory. That was not a good decision. SC scored a TD on the very next play and big MO was on their side for the rest of the way. Leinart and Company make it look so easy.

The Sugar was a great game. For a while there it looked like VT would catch the mighty Auburn Tigers. Too many missed opportunities for the Hokies in the first half. They just didn't make the necessary plays to win.

Auburn is a great team and they proved it throughout the season. Same for Utah for that matter. Too bad only 1 team can be the national champs. Maybe in the near future the BCS will get it right. Looks like they will be making more tweaks in the off-season for next year. A true work in progress.

Congrats to Mr. Freiley - a very dominating performance in his own right. Very impressive. He should finish in the top 50 or so nation-wide. That's amazing. Thanks for playing and see you next year.

Final note - SC is very young. Most of the team on both sides of the ball comes back next year including White, Bush, Smith, Jarret, and most likely Leinart for his senior season. Look out PAC - 10 and the country!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Top images of the year....2K4

Here are just a few of those memorable moments over the past few months in the world of college football. What a season of football this was. It amazes me how seemingly every new year is better than the last. Can't wait for the next one to come.

Only 8 more months until Ronler Pick-em 2k5! Enjoy of the off-season. Don't forget the spring practices and those off-season workouts. The data never stops coming in.

What I'm Eagerly Awaiting in 2K5...

Here are just some of my 'can't wait' topics for the off-season and next season; not in any order:

1) Will the BCS finally fix itself? They meet in a few weeks for another round of discussions. I'm hoping for an 8-team system / play-off where those schools are the automatic bids to the 4 major bowls. Enough of the conference alliances already. But - I doubt anything will happen. They've made some major tweaks to the system of the past few years. Plus - they're all very happy with the way things worked out with Texas this year.

2) The BIG - 10 rebounds next year. Not only because Illinois will have at least 5 wins and might even make itself bowl eligible with 6, but look for Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and maybe even Penn State to be strong. What, Penn State? Yes - the mightly Lions might finally roar next season - or at least prrrrr!

3) What will happen to schools like Stanford, Washington, Georgia, Miami, Florida, Oklahoma, VT, and others will some major off-season changes and graduations looming large? Look for the Gators to make an SEC title run next fall under Urban Meyer.

Vincent Young - Wow! Posted by Hello

Bye Bye Purdue Posted by Hello

Too Bad Posted by Hello

Next Year Posted by Hello

Snoop! Posted by Hello

Oklahoma Posted by Hello

Walker Posted by Hello

Bush! Posted by Hello

Edwards Posted by Hello

Louissant Posted by Hello

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