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Judson: It was a special season

The 2000-01 team that Nate Mast so eloquently revisited on the previous page had the perfect blend: lots of basketball talent (three McDonald's All-Americans, three Illinois Mr. Basketballs) and lots of basketball smarts (four future college coaches).

Rob Judson, a likable assistant on that memorable team, is glad that second group didn't grow to five.


Tuesday's prep highlights: Thorson shows way for Sabers

Boys' basketball

St. Thomas More 53, Watseka 43. ALEX THORSON collected 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Sabers. DAVID COCHRANE added 10 points, and the Sabers got nine apiece from MATTHEW RESTAD and JULIAN BOSWELL. TODD LYZNICKI scored 12, all on three-pointers, for Watseka.


Judah's Williams provides 'kicks-start'

CHAMPAIGN – Junior Malik Williams stands out in a crowd. That would be because of the bright yellow sneakers.

"Special order from Finish Line," he said.

If the crowd that is congregating happens to be on a basketball court, the 5-foot-8 Williams would stand out even barefoot.


Athletes of the Week

Courtney Helm, Villa Grove, basketball, Sophomore

Recently: Made the all-tournament team at Chrisman's Cardinal Classic and helped the Blue Devils win with a 5-0 record.

My New Year's resolution is ... it was going to be trying to be Athlete of the Week.


Illini tennis teams each make Top 25 cut

SKILLMAN, N.J. — Both Illinois teams are in the Top 25 of the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. The first rankings for 2011 were announced Tuesday, with the Illini men at No. 16 and the UI women at No. 25.
Junior Dennis Nevolo is the top-ranked Illini individual, listed No. 11 in men’s singles. Nevolo and senior teammate Abe Souza are No. 20 in doubles.


Bob's best: Mountain West

We asked college football beat writer Bob Asmussen which conferences have fared best this bowl season. His top five leading into Tuesday's Sugar Bowl:


ESPN fires Ron Franklin

BRISTOL, Conn. — ESPN has fired announcer Ron Franklin after he reportedly berated a female colleague.

The network had pulled him from its radio coverage of Saturday's Fiesta Bowl, and Franklin issued a public apology Monday.

 


McCamey honored - again

Beat writer Paul Klee has Demetri McCamey on his short list of Big Ten MVP candidates. Here's another reason why: The senior was named Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week by the USBWA.


5 O'Clock Shadow

News you can't leave work without:

How lopsided has the Illinois-Northwestern series been in men's basketball? Since 1980, the Illini are 53-6 against the Wildcats, who on Thursday are aiming for their first back-to-back wins against their state rivals since 1966-67. The only Illini slipups in the last 30 years:


Southern dominance makes for gloomy Big Ten

CHAMPAIGN – Willie Sutton, the infamous bank robber who died in 1980, claimed he never said he robbed banks "because that's where the money is."

But he should have. It makes sense. There's no great gain in robbing the poor house. And if he was still around, Sutton would have a simple football explanation for bowl results.