Roundup: Illini to play Michigan only once
The Illinois men’s basketball team will only play Big Ten foes Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue once during the 2013-14 season.
The Illini will host Purdue and Michigan while playing at Northwestern and at Minnesota. It marks the first time Northwestern won’t visit the State Farm Center since the 2008-09 season and first time the Gophers won’t travel to Champaign since the 2010-11 season, the last time Illinois didn’t play at Michigan either.
The news also means Illinois won’t travel to Purdue’s Mackey Arena for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
Beckman to visit Monticello
Illinois football coach Tim Beckman will sign autographs and greet fans at the Monticello Community Building, 102 E. Livingston Street, on May 29 after Piatt County won last fall’s Paint the State Orange contest.
Beckman will be available from 1 to 2 p.m., and the first 100 children at the event, which is free and open to the public, will receive a free mini football. Piatt County receives the visit from Beckman after it made the most submissions per capita of any county in the state.
SIU names facility after Jones
A renovated baseball facility at Southern Illinois will be named after former Illinois coach Itch Jones.
The SIU Board of Trustees on May 9 approved the $3.4 million Richard “Itchy” Jones Stadium. Jones guided the Salukis to three College World Series in the 1970s before he became Illini coach in 1991.
During 15 seasons at the UI, Jones won 474 games — the second most in program history — and coached the Illini to two Big Ten titles and two NCAA tournament appearances.
Construction on the site of the current Abe Martin Field is scheduled to start after this season and be finished by next spring. The project will include a synthetic turf field, concourse, press box and lights.
The Hill, a longtime Salukis baseball gathering spot, will remain along the first-base side.
Spencer honored by Big Ten
Illinois sprinter Ashley Spencer received Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Track Athlete of the Championships accolades after her weekend performance at the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
Spencer, a sophomore, won her second straight 200-meter and 400-meter dash titles at the conference meet and helped the 1,600-meter relay team place first.
“What a great honor for Ashley,” UI coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “She worked much harder this year and was much more focused. Last year everything was happening so fast and she was having so much success so soon. This year she has been able to let it all soak in.”