Vikings trim ex-Illini Jones

   The Minnesota Vikings released safety Henry Jones, a former Illini, on Tuesday.

   Jones, 33, started five games for the Vikings after being signed Sept. 25, two days after Pro Bowl safety Robert Griffith broke his leg.

Tate: Anniversary brings back UI memories

   Could it be? Fifty years! A half-century in which young men become senior citizens, a span where memories tend to fade.

   But who among those present can forget Rex Smith''s touchdown catch in a howling blizzard and 2-inch snow to edge Michigan 7-0? Or the deflection off Steve Nosek''s hands that Smith grabbed to set up a 14-10 defeat of Wisconsin? Or Sam Rebecca''s short field goal to edge Northwestern 3-0? Or the Rose Bowl in which Stan Wallace''s third-quarter interception brought Illinois roaring back from a 7-6 deficit against Stanford?

Tate: Conference champions closing in

   Questions about 2000''s Big Ten football tri-champions gradually are being answered.

   On Northwestern: Will yearlong film study solve Northwestern''s no-huddle, misdirection attack? Yes, the Wildcats are taking a 2-3 league record Saturday to Indiana, and erstwhile Heisman candidate Damien Anderson hasn''t rushed for 100 yards in the last five games. When you rely on trickery (and a shaky defense), it is rough sledding when opponents figure it out.

UI volleyball makes national poll

   For the first time in two years, the Illinois volleyball team is nationally ranked.

   Don Hardin''s streaking Illini are No. 25 in the USA Today/AVCA poll released Monday. Winners of its last seven matches, Illinois (15-5) received 110 points in voting by a panel of NCAA Division I coaches to break into the Top 25.

Illini enjoy rest, rooting

   CHAMPAIGN  For one Saturday, Eugene Wilson turned into an Iowa fan.

   During a day off, the Illinois cornerback watched Iowa-Michigan on television. If the Wolverines had lost, the Illini would have moved into a tie for the Big Ten lead.

Illini goalie takes honor

   For the second time this season, Illinois freshman Leisha Alcia has earned Big Ten women''s soccer defensive player of the week honors. Alcia stopped five shots in the UI''s 4-1 win against Iowa before registering her third shutout in Sunday''s 1-0 win against Illinois State.

   The win against Iowa secured the Illini''s best Big Ten finish (6-3-1).

Illinois men''s basketball practice report

   During the season, players will tell you they take things one game at a time. But in the preseason, they''re not so different from the rest of us, scanning the schedule for the games that matter most.

   Case in point: Iowa guard Ryan Hogan, who wrapped up an interview at Sunday''s Big Ten Media Day saying,

Wolverine miles better

   SAVOY  For a guy whose signature race is the mile, Alan Webb was kept plenty busy by autograph seekers after his first Big Ten cross-country meet.

   And with good reason. The versatile Michigan freshman, who ran the second-fastest mile ever by an American in May, showed Sunday he can run a mean cross-country race, too.

As Big Ten favorites, Illini become hard target

   CHICAGO  Just after he took the head coaching job at Illinois, Bill Self held a meeting with his players to gauge their expectations.

   The new coach wanted to know what his Illini wanted to become.

Badger finally on top; Illini seventh

   SAVOY  Bethany Brewster''s climb up the Big Ten ladder was down to its last rung.

   On Sunday, the sure-footed Wisconsin senior finally made it to the summit.