View from the top

News-Gazette staff writer Jeff Huth asked some prominent national observers of the collegiate basketball scene this question: "When I say ''Illinois basketball,'' what do you think of?" Here are their responses:

Illini in Hunt for national title

The women''s cross-country team''s improvement under third-year coach Karen Harvey continued Saturday at the Midwest Regional meet in Peoria.

The Illini placed second, earning the program''s first trip to nationals and some well-deserved rest on the ride home.

Dietz: Moorehead riding high with Colts

If you stop by the Indianapolis Colts Pro Shop a block east of the RCA Dome, you''ll find a wall full of personalized jerseys. There''s the popular Peyton Manning getup, and you can become Edgerrin James, Dwight Freeney or Marvin Harrison for about $70.

There''s even a row of Aaron Moorehead No. 85 jer-seys. They''re not exactly a hot item, but at least they''re there.

UI men''s basketball practice report

Brian Randle would love to be back to his high-flying ways by the time Ohio State visits the Assembly Hall on Jan. 5.

If he can''t, he''ll likely stay grounded for the season.

A trophy case ... or more likely 100, is needed at Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – They keep the championship trophy from the 1978 Kentucky Invitational in the entrance to the media relations department at Illinois.

It''s a little wobbly up top. The action-figure-sized basketball player affixed to the apex tends to bounce when the base is moved. But you still can read the plaque on the front. The wooden base isn''t rotted out.

Tate: You can''t keep a good man down

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The bulldog took a head-on hit from a runaway freight train.

&nsp;It threw him for a loop.

And the bounce-back, at age 72, isn''t as automatic as it might have been earlier.

Mapping it out

Illinois basketball has no boundaries. Its impact has been felt from Florida to Alaska and many rural Illinois communities in between. Staff writer Jeff Huth's history lesson – a part of our continuing coverage of 100 years of UI basketball – takes you to the hometowns of some of the more notable former Illini and to the sites of some of the more memorable moments.

Illini arm selves in Georgetown

GEORGETOWN – In high school, Aaron Martin has developed a well-earned reputation as a do-it-all player for his baseball team.

When he arrives at Illinois next fall, the Georgetown-Ridge Farm senior is projected as a pitcher. Clearly, however, Martin is ready and willing to pitch in elsewhere if the call ever comes from Illini coach Itch Jones.

Who''s that Illini?

I wasn’t the Big Ten’s best shooter or rebounder, and I never led Illinois to the conference championship. In fact, my teams won 18 Big Ten games from 1965 through ’67. What makes me so unique is that I was the conference’s MVP my senior year, beating out such stars as Minnesota’s Tom Kondla and Ohio State’s Bill Hosket. When the scandal of the mid-1960s stripped three exceptional players from the Illini roster, I stepped up my game to become a star. Today, I am a successful financial adviser and reside in Rye, N.Y.

Illini, Hurless break through in NCAAs

Any little mistake can cost you come NCAA tournament time.

So Illinois'' women''s soccer team didn''t make any mistakes defensively Friday night in College Station, Texas, advancing to the NCAA second round for the second time in team history with a 2-0 victory against Rice.