Tate: Offense will suffer in senior's absence

CHAMPAIGN – Arc-shooting is critical in modern-day basketball, and this Illini team is not deep in proven shooters.

Bruce Weber's quintet will be tough defensively, competitive on the boards and uncertain on offense. To be effective offensively, Weber needs Rich McBride.

Defense carries Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – The Illinois soccer team posted its fourth shutout in six matches Sunday, stopping No. 21 Indiana 1-0 on Ella Masar's goal in the 39th minute.

"Indiana's not a team that gives up goals, so for us to get a goal and to get it early and know that we had one in the bank was a big thing," Illinois coach Janet Rayfield said. "And I think we're pretty confident in our defense right now that we can keep the ball out of the back of the net."

On second glance, Zook sees progress

CHAMPAIGN – By early Sunday morning, Ron Zook's mood had started to change. The frustrated coach from late Saturday afternoon realized his team had shown improvement in a 26-12 loss to Penn State.

"I know I acted a little bit like I was feeling sorry for myself after the game, and I probably was," Zook said to open his Sunday teleconference. "You go back and look where we're at and what we've done and we're close. We're so close. You want it so bad for them."

The day after


What's next for Lincoln Hall?

In 2009, America will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. And Lincoln Hall, the landmark building in the University of Illinois Quad, will be 102 years old. In what shape will it be?

Will the decorative plaster be restored, the marble floors and stairs shiny and smooth again?

Three coaches have built soccer program into 'perennial Top 20'

It was one of those meet-the-neighbors moments that Jillian Ellis never will forget.

Hired by the University of Illinois in 1997 to start a women's soccer program, the then-30-year-old was moving into her new house on Halifax Drive in Champaign when Don and Marylin Karr walked over to say hi.

Illini let another chance slip away

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The coach put his head in his hands. And left it there.

After Illinois' latest version of close-but-not-quite, Ron Zook didn't bother to hide his frustration. Penn State's 26-12 win against Illinois at a brisk Beaver Stadium on Saturday moved Zook's disappointment level up a notch or 20.

Huth: Upon further review

– Fans around the country who see only the final score won't have a clue how competitive this one was. If Penn State fans were upset last week after the loss to Michigan, nothing they saw Saturday will make them feel any more kindly toward their favorite team. Will those fans give at least grudging credit to Illinois? They should.

Keeping things all in the family

CHAMPAIGN – From a courtside chair, Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery observed Illinois' practice Thursday. He chatted quietly with SIU assistant Jack Owens, who sat to his left, and watched former Salukis coach Bruce Weber direct his Illinois squad through a three-hour practice.

Two days later, Lowery returned to Ubben Basketball Complex. He spoke to more than 300 coaches gathered for the Illinois Basketball Coaches Clinic. SIU graduate assistant Jason Pacanowski came with him. Sense a theme? Yes, the SIU-Illinois ties are as strong as ever.

Tate: Illini keep options open

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Blessed with eye-popping arm strength, Juice Williams continues to work on making his passes easier to catch.

But it was a third-quarter lob toward an open tight end, Jeff Cumberland, that turned the momentum in Saturday's 26-12 loss at Penn State. Illinois led 9-3 and had Penn State bamboozled with a series of option plays that carried to the Nittany Lion 42. It was the perfect time to insert a pass, and Cumberland appeared unguarded at first.