Central grad gets his pick

CHAMPAIGN – He stepped in front of a wayward pass, made the interception and raced toward the end zone. Just like the old days for Illinois freshman linebacker J Leman.

The Champaign Central graduate made the play during Wednesday''s scrimmage. The way his teammates mobbed him in the end zone and on the sidelines, you would think they had just won the Big Ten.

Checking it twice

Bruce Weber isn''t discussing candidates for Illinois'' vacant assistant coach position, so we asked News-Gazette basketball beat writer Brett Dawson to come up with his own top five list:

Illinois in striking distance

Megan Godfrey and Michelle Carroll each shot 2-over-par 74s Friday to tie for third place individually and put Illinois in a three-way tie for second in the team standings after the first round of the Illini women''s golf Spring Classic at Stone Creek Golf Club in Urbana.

Illinois shot a team total of 307, tying with Southern Illinois and Toledo, 8 shots back of leader Illinois State.

For starters, Illini still struggling

CHAMPAIGN – Vince DiMaria can remember when the Illinois baseball team ruled Big Ten series openers.

"Game 1 when I first came here, especially my freshman year, was pretty much a guaranteed win," the Illini senior said.

UI seeking assistance

CHAMPAIGN – If by chance you''re calling Bruce Weber this week, be patient.

With assistant coach Chris Lowery departing for the head coaching job at Southern Illinois, Weber is a popular man with an even more popular job opening, and that means a soaring cellphone bill for Weber and his assistants.

Illinois catcher finds the right hitting stroke by going to right field

CHAMPAIGN – You don''t need to watch Chris Robinson long to see he has this whole hitting thing all backward.

And his teammates – whether in his native Canada or now in college at Illinois – never have been shy about pointing it out.

Tate: AD''s goal: Try to solve arena puzzle

The decade''s biggest sports-related decision at the University of Illinois should begin to take shape this spring.

No, this isn''t about Chief Illiniwek.

Illini assistant fills SIU opening

The ties that bind Illinois, Purdue and Southern Illinois are growing even stronger.

Illinois assistant coach Chris Lowery today tied up one last loose end between the three basketball programs, as he was named Southern Illinois head coach.

UI tennis team escapes upset

The Illinois tennis team long has prided itself on its prowess in doubles.

On Wednesday, doubles proved to be the difference as the top-ranked Illini escaped with a 4-3 victory against No. 17 Kentucky at Lexington, Ky.

Illini Insider

News-Gazette staff writer Jeff Huth and preview of Illini sports: