They say Illinois doesn''t have much to play for at this weekend''s Big Ten tournament in Chicago.
They say the Illini have an NCAA No. 1 seed all sewn up.
My given first name was Leland, but Illini fans in the 1920s knew me as "Slim." As a prep at Olney High, I scored 34 points in the first round of the IHSA''s Sweet 16, a record that stood for 30 years. As a 6-foot-4 center at Illinois, I was the Illini''s leading scorer in 1924, when we shared the Big Ten title. I studied medicine at Illinois and was the UI''s team physician from 1933 through 1970. Lots of folks who reside in Champaign-Urbana visited my local practice at Burnham City Hospital. I died in 1979, two days after my 77th birthday.
CHAMPAIGN – Dee Brown has seen those TV features about poor J.J. Redick.
About how the Duke guard is taunted in every visitors'' arena. About how Redick is vilified by college hoop fans everywhere.
The tricky aspects of conference tournaments are the widely varying motivations of the competitors.
For some, it is their only chance to reach the NCAA playoffs. For others, it affects NCAA tournament seedings. There is often more emphasis on winning for future placement than for winning to acquire an extra trophy.
CHAMPAIGN – Three games. Three days. Three subs?
The math doesn''t add up for Bruce Weber.
I was a college basketball head coach for 34 years and one of 11 men in history to lead two different teams to the Final Four. Rick Schmidt was the captain and the leading scorer of my one and only Illini team. Shortly after the 1974-75 campaign, I received an invitation from UCLA to replace the legendary John Wooden. Despite guiding the Bruins to one Final Four appearance, two Pacific Eight titles, and a cumulative record of 52-9, I resigned under pressure after the 1976-77 season. In January, I returned to the UI campus from my home in Birmingham, Ala., to attend the centennial celebration (answer below).
CHAMPAIGN – There''s a 1 in Illinois'' loss column today.
There''s another in the Illini''s poll position.
CHICAGO – All season, Bruce Weber has had a hard time choosing just one of his players as Illinois'' most valuable.
It wasn''t as difficult for media and coaches around the Big Ten. Dee Brown swept the media and coaches Big Ten Player of the Year awards this morning on a day when Illinois dominated the postseason balloting.