CHAMPAIGN – Tara Schuling looks at vacant spots in the lineup and sees opportunity for others.
About to play their first NCAA tournament game tonight, Schuling and her Illinois women's soccer team aren't lamenting the loss of juniors Lindsay Johnson and Lisa Baldwin. Instead, they're showing the kind of confidence that carried the Illini to a school-best 13-7-0 record.
CHAMPAIGN – In the spirit of politics, Bill Self let his players vote on who started Monday's exhibition opener against Athletes In Action.
"Was it rigged? I hope not," said a smiling Jerrance Howard, who finished sixth in the voting before the Illini's 91-56 romp in front of a select few at the Assembly Hall. "No, really, it wasn't. Those were the guys we all wrote down."
Illinois 91, Athletes in Action 56
CHAMPAIGN – Coach Bill Self and the modest turnout for Monday's exhibition opener could visualize an Illini basketball team that could reach expectations at a date not far in the future.
It's a different-looking team when Marcus Griffin's knee loosens up and he has his "quicks."
It's a different-looking team when the long bodies of Brian Cook and Damir Krupalija are healthy.
The Illinois women's basketball team barely missed being ranked in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll, which was announced today.
Illinois and Florida tied for the most points among teams not in the Top 25, with 79 apiece. No. 25 Cal Santa Barbara received 85 points in voting by a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters.
CHAMPAIGN – A couple of Brett Melton's layups in pregame warmups clanked off the backboard or rolled around the rim and fell astray.
Melton said it wasn't a sign of nervousness Monday.
CHAMPAIGN – Nine of the Big Ten's 11 teams have been ranked in the Top 25 at some point this season. But Illinois, a member of the poll itself the first six weeks, has missed all but one of them.
The only team that was ranked when it played Illinois was Michigan, which came to Champaign on Sept. 23 as the No. 10 team.
WHOSE TURN IS IT?:
Another game, another new lineup. Grentz said Illinois fans can get used to seeing new faces in the starting lineup when the team finishes the preseason schedule against the Reebok Lady Stars (and former Illini Ashley Berggren) at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Illinois sophomore Eldina Fazlic and freshman Jennifer McGaffigan ended their fall seasons Sunday with Sweet 16 singles losses in the ITA Regional tournament at Ann Arbor, Mich.
A review of Saturday''s UI football game against Indiana, and a preview of the upcoming home game against Ohio State.