When Justin Spring’s gymnasts won the 2012 NCAA title, there was legitimate optimism that the Illini could continue to thrive in that thin stratosphere. They were ranked No. 1 going into this season.
But as we saw with men’s tennis (NCAA champs in 2003), men’s basketball (2005 runners-up) and volleyball (2011 runners-up), even a Perfect Storm will break up and weaken.
By JEFF HUTH
TOLEDO, Ohio — Karisma Penn is back in her home state Thursday to play in the 128th basketball game of her college career.
Safe to say the Illinois senior is eager to share the experience with family and friends.
Sophie Brunner Aquin Sr. 6-1 F/C: Repeat selection and Arizona State recruit ranked 285th nationally by Blue Star; led 31-3 Class 1A state champions in scoring (20.6), rebounding (10.6) and assists (4.8)
MOUNT CARMEL — If you are reading about Tyra Buss for the first time, then be forewarned: You’re not going to believe it.
If only this story were being published five days from now, then readers would anxiously anticipate two words as the perfect ending: “April Fools.”
Ask the expert
We asked beat writer JEFF HUTH for his take on the WNIT:
CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois women’s basketball team might not have played its final home game of the season after all.
If the Illini win their Women’s National Invitation Tournament third-round game Thursday night at Toledo, a quarterfinal contest at the Assembly Hall is a possibility.
CHAMPAIGN — During his five seasons at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Matt Bollant’s Phoenix teams annually faced the state’s other three Division I women’s basketball programs, including Wisconsin and Marquette.
“Which was great for Green Bay,” the first-year Illinois coach said.
Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. — Anonymous
The United States was little more than three months into World War II when a young Illinois basketball team — Gene Vance, Andy Phillip and the Whiz Kids were sophomores — lost to Kentucky 46-44 in the 1942 Elite Eight in New Orleans.
The details of that finish are too fuzzy 71 years later. But it was close.