Scott Richey

Scott Richey

Home-court advantage? Illini believe they have it

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois volleyball enjoys a unique home court advantage at Huff Hall. A warm day outside makes for an even warmer experience in the gym. The close confines mean a big crowd is a loud one, and that's only amplified by the Spike Squad — the Illini student section — just a few feet from the court and the Illini band not much further away.

Illini secondary waits for key players to return

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois football has put the idea of "next man up" through its paces the first two weeks of the season with injuries and suspensions testing the Illini's depth. No position group had felt it more than the Illinois secondary by the second half of last Saturday night's 34-14 win against Western Illinois.

Illinois in Liddell's top three

CHAMPAIGN — Two down.

Three to go.

And yes, Illinois is one of the three schools still in the running to land reigning News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year and Illinois Mr. Basketball E.J. Liddell. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward out of Belleville West narrowed his list of possible schools — again — on Wednesday night.

Illinois gets another seven-figure donation

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois set an initial fundraising goal of $30 million for what is now the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center. A $2.5 million donation for the new facility announced Wednesday by Illinois brings the DIA within striking distance of that target. That gift by real estate investment company CA Ventures brings Illinois' fundraising efforts to $28.175 million.

Sam Mays is catching on

CHAMPAIGN — Sam Mays was among the last players on the Memorial Stadium practice fields Tuesday morning, taking reps off a JUGS machine. Mays had one of Illinois' managers holding on to a towel wrapped around his arm, simulating a physical defensive back.

Mays took ball after ball off the machine working on hauling in contested catches. It's not an unusual sight.

Waiting on next domino

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CHAMPAIGN — Ayo Dosunmu hit a lot of boxes as Illinois' first 2018 commitment and first of an eventual eight newcomers, including six freshmen, for the coming season.

In-state recruit? Check.

Underwood 'on the mend' after knee replacement

CHAMPAIGN — The 2018-19 men's basketball season starts in roughly 2 1 / 2 weeks, and it's Illinois coach Brad Underwood that's coming off the disabled list to get back on the court.

Three reasons hope lives on for Bears' 2018 season

Yes, Bears fans suffered late Sunday night. Like staff writer SCOTT RICHEY. But Khalil Mack (above) and his teammates did have a few moments before Aaron Rodgers did what he does best — drive the Bears crazy in rallying the Packers to a 24-23 win. Despite all that, Richey explains why it’s still OK to be a Bears fan in 2018:

Illini OC: Bush 'the guy' if he is healthy

CHAMPAIGN — AJ Bush Jr. wanted to play in the second half of Illinois' 34-14 win against Western Illinois. He made that clear by the number of times he asked a coach on the sideline to tell offensive coordinator Rod Smith he wanted back in the game.

Conversation with The Arizona Daily Star's Bruce Pascoe

Off-the-court issues plagued Arizona last season. On the court, the Wildcats suffered a disappointing loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Buffalo. The Arizona Daily Star's Bruce Pascoe weighs in on a new-look Arizona team — one Illinois could meet in the Maui Invitational — that will try to right the ship in 2018-19: