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CHAMPAIGN – Bruce Weber's Illini are munching this weekend on a heaping helping of humility.
On the verge of cracking the Top 10 in thoroughly confused national polls, the Illini fizzled on trips to Chicago and St. Louis like water-soaked firecrackers. The reasons were different, but each was a last-minute disaster ... losses by 57-54 to UIC and 75-64 to Missouri.
Generally, I don't wait until the last minute to do things. I arrive early for the games I cover. I finish my stories before the copy editors yell to wrap it up. I mail Christmas cards within a week of Thanksgiving.
Clearly, however, there are exceptions. I haven't yet submitted my "2010 wish list" to Santa.
This is one deadline I will barely make.
Troy Gentle’s weekly update on the five players headed Bruce Weber’s way and the five players headed Jolette Law’s way:
In the spirit of the Big Ten, which is putting a name on every football trophy, here are the best of the 2010 Illinois football season, courtesy beat writer Bob Asmussen:
Kurt Kittner Offensive MVP — Mikel Leshoure
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes were suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of next season for selling championship rings, jerseys and awards and receving improper benefits. All can still play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.
Illinois hosts the Buckeyes in what would be their seventh game on Oct. 15.
Prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner is chatting at 12:30 p.m. Ask him what we wants for Christmas, who's going to win the basketball tournaments at Monticello and what were his top stories of 2010. He'll answer anything that's on your mind. Submit questions early by clicking here
With the pressure on, the Illini continued a game-long struggle from the field and lost their poise with both an intentional foul by Mike Tisdale and a technical on Weber contributing to Missouri's 16-5 run in the final two minutes.
Those of us who believed this is a good-shooting UI team are beginning to wonder who iced their elbows. The losers launched 70 shots, making just 27 ... and sinking below 40 percent just as they did in the 57-54 loss to Illinois-Chicago. It was encouraging, at least for 39 of 40 minutes, because Illinois created a torrent of close shots, only to see them flipping out.
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Mike Davis has taken a beating since the Illini were upset by Illinois-Chicago on Saturday at the United Center. The senior wasn't at his finest against the Flames: four points, one rebound, two turnovers.
ST. LOUIS – In the moments that followed Wednesday's 75-64 loss to Missouri, the Illinois players talked about stepping away from basketball for a few days.
That's probably a good idea. Basketball hasn't been fun over the past week. The grins that highlighted a promising start to this season have been turned upside down.