Mike Thomas "celebrated" seven months on the job Thursday.
Wow! Somebody pop a champagne cork. Somebody buy him a fancy dinner tonight in New Orleans.
Thomas just concluded the most harrowing period any athletic director could imagine. In exactly four months, he fired three key Illini coaches and hired three new ones.
CHAMPAIGN — John Groce was 6, maybe 7, when he first made memories of Big Ten basketball.
As a kid, he would sit on his grandmother's couch and listen to games on her transistor radio.
"I think John still has that transistor radio," said his younger brother, Dave.
- "I think it's an outstanding hire for Illinois. He's very familiar with the Big Ten. He's passionate about his student-athletes, not only what they do on the court but off the court. He's dedicated to doing things the right way. Let him prove himself. Give him the resources to be able to recruit, to do things the right way, to get the responses from his players, then let's make a judgment.
Completely unfamiliar with the name John Groce three weeks ago, Illinois recruit Jalen James spoke with a hint of excitement in his voice Thursday as he described what he's learned the past few days about the new Illini men's basketball coach.
We asked staff writer Bob Asmussen, our media critic, just that. His answer: That's a winner!
My first thought was, "Who invited Jim Furyk to take over as Illinois basketball coach?" (I'm a big fan of the U.S. Open champion).
URBANA — Stephanie Cuevas is used to catching softballs.
Wednesday night, she caught fire.
The University of Illinois softball catcher — who is in the lineup for her defense — batted three times against Indiana State and each time drove in a run at Eichelberger Field as the Illini dropped the Sycamores 7-2.
CHAMPAIGN — Matt Bollant couldn't sleep Tuesday night. And it wasn't because he was nervous about being introduced the next morning as the new Illinois women's basketball coach.
"I woke up at 3 this morning, and my nose was pretty stuffed up," he said. "I went to Walgreens and got some cold medicine and came back and was able to sleep a little bit before we had to get up for the day."
New Illinois women's basketball coach Matt Bollant has his work cut out for him at Illinois. For starters ...
Bollant's teams at Green Bay were regulars in the Top 25, climbing as high as ninth this season. Illinois last cracked The Associated Press poll the week of Nov. 27, 2000.
What they were saying about Matt Bollant's move to Illinois:
Updated: 5:03 p.m.
Jalen James, the Class of 2013 point guard at La Lumiere Academy, said he remains tied to the Illini.
"I'm still committed to Illinois," James said.
James said he was looking forward to catching up with Groce after the coach was introduced today. He watched Groce's Ohio Bobcats in the NCAA tournament earlier this month.