Sports editor Jim Rossow''s three reasons we love sports today:
Here''s hoping Dave Downey (above) matches his school record and scores 53 points at today''s alumni game.
Sixty years! Imagine. Six decades of Fighting Illini basketball memories.
This becomes more an autobiography than a column, more a story of related incidents than the games themselves.
If the current group of Illini is considered one of the school''s best – and few would argue the point – whose company does it keep? Here''s a look at the other nine teams that might comprise the school''s top 10 (in chronological order):
CHAMPAIGN – Just how old are the old-schoolers invading the Assembly Hall this weekend?
So old that they probably remember when a 20-win season meant something in college basketball.
CHAMPAIGN – Kendall Gill didn''t need much time to ponder the question.
If the famed 1988-89 team could, in some sort of bizarre "Back to the Future" kind of universe, square off against the current Illinois basketball team, who''d win?
"It would be no comparison," Gill said. "We would totally destroy them. I''m serious."
CHAMPAIGN – A prematch traffic jam outside Huff Hall. A school-record crowd of 3,573.
Oh, yeah, and a 25-7 Illinois dual wrestling win against Iowa. Just the second for the Illini in the last 43 years against the Hawkeyes.
CHAMPAIGN – Illinois'' resurrection of its post game continues – but at a slow pace.
On Thursday, it was freshman Danyel Crutcher who gave the Illini a lift in a 53-43 victory against Indiana. Back on the bench for the second straight game, Crutcher hit both her shots and cleared a game-high 11 rebounds in 26 minutes.
During the 1987-88 season, I was a starter in more Illini games than Nick Anderson, Kendall Gill or Stephen Bardo. That year I shared Defensive Player of the Year honors at Illinois with Bardo. Until Nick Smith came to Illinois in 2000, I was the last seven-footer to play for the Illini. I played high school ball as a foreign exchange student for the Taylorville Tornadoes. Instead of being a senior on the Flying Illini team of 1988-89, I chose to forego my final year of college eligibility to play professionally in my native West Germany. Today is my 40th birthday.
CHAMPAIGN – Dee Brown would like to tell you that he dreamed of this weekend, that he''s an in-state kid who grew up on Illinois basketball, who''ll meet his heroes as the Illini celebrate their hoops centennial.
But he won''t tell you that.