Teammates Sara Dumich (vault) and Adam Pummer (floor exercise) scored perfect 10s, but Ben Newman and Cara Pomeroy combined to win the 19th annual Illinois Mixed Pairs exhibition Friday night at Huff Hall.
Illinois is dominant at the Assembly Hall but almost as good at the United Center. Since Chicago Stadium''s replacement opened, the Illini are 23-6 there, including 10 straight wins. Illinois'' United Center results through the years:
CHICAGO – If you''re one of those folks who stroll into the United Center today to catch the end of the Illinois women''s game before watching the Illini men, consider yourself the biggest benefit the women have for playing this game.
For the first time since the UI men''s and women''s teams began playing a Chicago doubleheader in 2000, the women will play before the men. For many fans, it won''t make any difference. But anyone who has seen the crowd''s mass exodus after the men''s game is aware of the mausoleumlike atmosphere that it created for the women.
CHICAGO – Bruce Weber would have a bone to pick with the guy who made this schedule.
But this isn''t football, where schedules are set in stone years in advance.
Though I stood barely six feet tall, Illinois basketball fans remember me for my 40-inch vertical jump and my lightning-quick bursts to the bucket. During my three seasons with the Illini in the 1990s, I averaged nearly 10 points from my backcourt position. Many of my four assists a game wound up as Deon Thomas baskets. I also finished in eighth place on UI''s career list for steals. As a prep star at Springfield''s Calvary High, I averaged 30 points a game and was the IHSA''s sixth-leading all-time scorer. Today, I celebrate my 32nd birthday.
WASHINGTON – He''s 6-foot-10 and weighs 245 pounds, and so you expect Jack Ingram to set screens and grab rebounds.
You expect a lumber-Jack.
WASHINGTON – If you had a hunger for Thursday night drama, here''s hoping you caught "The O.C."
Illinois'' best player is in a funk. Its offense can be touch-and-go. Its defense is ever-improving but not yet dominant.
My given name is Daniel, but Assembly Hall announcer Jim Sheppard often rhymes my well-known nickname with my favorite shot. On the court, I''m never seen without my signature white head band, an accessory adoringly worn by many of my younger fans. Though I''m only a junior, I''m already well on my way to inserting my name on Fighting Illini career lists for points, assists, steals and three-pointers. Twice I''ve been a second-team All-Big Ten selection, but I''m aiming myself for even bigger honors in my third season.
WASHINGTON – How can a team be coasting along virtually unchallenged at No. 1 in the country when its top-ranked player is admittedly struggling?
That''s what makes Illinois, 8-0 in the young basketball season, all the more impressive.