A new beginning

   This is Bill Self''s offseason. On a snowy central Illinois morning, the Illinois basketball coach already has conducted a lengthy interview with the Indianapolis Star, which has sought his help in analyzing the Final Four.

   (He''s something of an expert, having coached against three of the teams headed to Atlanta.)

Spring workouts might help Illini fill in the blanks

   They took the school''s first outright Big Ten title in 19 years, played in the school''s first BCS game ever and won 10 games for the first time since 1989.

   Ron Turner''s Illinois football players have plenty to smile about when they look back at 2001.

Illini pair off to regionals

   Junior Jana Gallagher and freshman Ashley Williams were selected to represent Illinois on April 6 in the NCAA South Central women''s gymnastics regional at Tempe, Ariz.

   Gallagher is making her third regional trip, qualifying for the second straight season in the all-around.

Experience could help end UI trend

   OK, Ron Turner, now it''s your turn. - Illinois has produced three consecutive Big Ten championships in the major sports  an undisputed football crown sandwiched between two shared basketball titles  and it''ll be Turner''s turn in the fall.

   Before we slide over recent accomplishments, consider that Illinois went 47 years with two shared championships in basketball before getting a piece of three in the last five seasons  and the 2001 football title was just the fourth in 48 years.

Self will feel a bit lonely at Final Four

   CHAMPAIGN  Bill Self is going to the Final Four.

   He only wishes he was traveling with more company.

Illini makes most of second chance

   CHAMPAIGN  There probably isn''t a more grateful recruit on the Illinois baseball roster than Brett Wicker.

   On Sunday, the junior college transfer delivered the first of what he hopes will be many paybacks to his new team for the chance to keep playing.

Illinois AD always looking to future

   His athletic program is ranked among the Top 20 nationally by U.S. News and World Report. Ten years after taking over at Illinois, Ron Guenther has built the buildings and the teams. And he has some ideas about the future, too. News-Gazette staff writer Bob Asmussen sat down with Guenther during the Midwest Regional and got his thoughts on basketball, Bill Self and the Assembly Hall:

   NG: Illinois has won a Big Ten title in football. A Big Ten title in basketball. Another Sweet 16. What does the school do for an encore?

Departing Illini players leave a hole

   If the horizon appears a little darker today, there is a reason. - Kansas still is playing, and Illinois isn''t ... like most years.

   Erratic shooting fouled a grand UI opportunity, and with Friday''s 73-69 defeat go 5,040 career points and 2,110 rebounds from departing veterans Frank Williams, Cory Bradford, Robert Archibald, Damir Krupalija and Lucas Johnson.

UI´s Lackey meets goal until the last second

   ALBANY, N.Y.  Matt Lackey usually takes a few weeks off after each wrestling season.

   But don''t be surprised to see the Illini junior in the gym Monday morning.

Lockhart finishes in style

   ALBANY, N.Y.  John Lockhart didn''t repeat as an NCAA champion. He did close his college wrestling career with a win, though.

   Showing resolve and overcoming a rash of injuries, the Illinois senior capped a long and winding run through the consolation bracket by placing third in the heavyweight division Saturday.