Sean Harrington: Illini Insider

Sean Harrington: Illini Insider

Each Friday through the basketball season, former Illini and current BTN analyst Sean Harrington will break down the Big Ten:

Power rankings

Indiana (7-0)
What’s not to like? The Hoosiers dominated North Carolina in their most impressive win of the season.

Michigan (6-0)
Nik Stauskas’ 20 points vs. N.C. State made the best backcourt in the conference even better.

Ohio State (4-1)
Had a chance to beat Duke in Cameron while only shooting 33 percent from the floor.

Minnesota (7-1)
The Gophers had three big wins over Memphis, Stanford and Florida State in five days.

Illinois (8-0)
Joe Bertrand gives the Illini a spark off the bench for the second game in a row.  

Michigan State (5-2)
Don’t hit the panic button in East Lansing. Spartans have lost early-season games before.

Wisconsin (4-3)
You don’t see the Badgers with three losses this early in the season too often.

Iowa (5-2)
The Hawkeyes are struggling to win games away from Carver- Hawkeye Arena.  

Purdue (3-3)
D.J. Byrd found his three-point shot in a statement win on the road at Clemson.  

Northwestern (6-1)
The Wildcats got dominated inside in a 20-point home loss to Maryland.  

Nebraska (5-1)
The Cornhuskers played their best game of the season in a win at Wake Forest.

Penn State (3-3)
The Nittany Lions have very little firepower without Tim Frazier.  

Player of the Week:
Andre Hollins

Any time a college player goes off for 41 points in a game, you have to give him credit. What is even more impressive is getting those 41 points only taking 16 shots including going 5 for 5 from beyond the arc.  

Flashback Friday: Maui 2000
We are on a flight heading to paradise to play in a loaded Maui Invitational field. Teams include Arizona, Dayton, Illinois, Louisville, Maryland, UConn, UNLV and Chaminade, and three of the teams are ranked in the top 8. Bill Self is 1-0 in his first year as head coach of Illinois.
As players search for more leg room, a brown paper grocery bag filled with beef jerky is being passed from player to player. After landing in Maui we receive the traditional welcome leis and jump on the bus to the hotel. Each and every bus ride consists of a team rap-a-long with Brian Cook providing the beat. However, this time the beat has reggae feel to it.

Academic advisers force us into a required study hall the next morning, but studying outside with the ocean lapping at the sand is hardly conducive to focusing on mundane class- work. It is a good attempt, but not a single head looks down at a book.

After grueling wins over UNLV and Maryland we drop a thriller to Arizona by three. In the small confines of the locker room with arms around each other, we know we can be special. After the heartbreaking loss to Arizona, Coach Self tells us we will work our butts off each day and in three weeks we will pay Arizona back on our home turf at the United Center. And we did.

The next day we spend a few hours on the beach watching Lucas Johnson wipe out over a dozen times trying to wave surf on the shore. We conclude the trip with a Hawaiian Thanksgiving feast. While Joe Cross gives a 10-minute blessing at dinner, players are sneaking tastes of turkey. Sergio McClain is across the table with a mountain of stuffing on his plate. After dinner we board a plane back to Champaign. We arrived in Maui as a team but are heading back as a family.  

On the air
Sean Harrington will call Coppin State at Indiana at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on BTN. On Sunday, he’ll work halftime and postgame in the BTN studio during the Cal-Wisconsin game (3 p.m.).