EVANSTON – Three reasons why college basketball is front-page news these days in the Windy City:
"In a city like Chicago, you've got to win – unless you're the Cubs, I guess," said Evan Eschmeyer, Northwestern's star center. "We started winning and they started backing us."
The proclamation from the governor has been signed, the specially marked 5,000 six-packs of Coke are on the way and the 32-page commemorative edition''s ready to go to press at the local paper.
A little cooperation from Lou Henson, and the folks at New Mexico State should have quite a 700th victory party on their hands one week from Saturday.
Might the pressure of never having reached the NCAA basketball tournament be a strain on Northwestern nerves when the Wildcats host Illinois tonight?
"They're probably feeling some of that," Illini coach Lon Kruger said. "Considering the strength of their schedule and the teams they've beaten, they still have a big hill to climb.
It's an old bromide that when you recruit scorers, they score ... just as rebounders rebound and passers pass.
In other words, players play, and nonplayers occasionally play.
So it follows that when good coaches have talent, they win. Let Kevin Stallings have Rico Hill back, and he probably repeats in the Missouri Valley. Give Lon Kruger the parts, and he'll build a purring machine. Don't think when South Carolina falls from 15-1 and 11-5 to 2-10 in the SEC that Eddie Fogler forgot how to coach.
Urgent! Cory Bradford needs help. If you have any ideas, let's hear 'em.
With Northwestern coming up Wednesday, and the Big Ten cellar just three games away, Lon Kruger is open to suggestions.
DANVILLE – At one point this week, 12 of the 15 messages on Danville Area Community College men's basketball coach John Spezia's voice mail were asking, "When's Marcus coming to town? When can we see Griffin?"
They were asking about Lincoln College preseason All-American Marcus Griffin, an Illinois recruit from Peoria who draws Illini fans wherever he plays.
If Gene Keady wanted to get the lowdown on Illinois'' leading scorer before Saturday''s game, all he had to do was open his mail.
Ten Big Ten coaches and 22 media members this week were sent an 8 x 10 color flier chronicling Cory Bradford''s achievements from Illinois'' athletic public relations department.
CHAMPAIGN – Jaraan Cornell does not rattle easily.
Not in basketball, not in class, certainly not during a night on the town. His roommate says the silky Purdue guard is as cool as they come under any situation, a regular Fonzie in baggy shorts.
He never lets anybody see him sweat.