SAN ANTONIO – Trying to separate fact from fiction at the Midwest Regional is trickier than guarding Frank Williams. The innuendo is as thick as some of the burritos in town.
Lucas Johnson is either a raving maniac who belongs in the XFL or a good kid from Des Plaines who gives it his all. Arizona is either soft as elevator music or silky smooth like college basketball should be. The Big Ten either encourages its players to swing elbows or goes by the rules set by the NCAA. Bill Self is either a master motivator or someone who lucked into a winning lottery ticket.
It all depends whom you ask.
CHAMPAIGN – It was a chilling experience in more ways than one for Illinois' baseball team.
After battling Michigan State for close to six hours at frigid, windswept Illinois Field, all the Illini had to show for it Saturday were two disconcerting defeats.
Senior Leo Oka took second on the pommel horse with a 9.125 as Illinois' men's gymnastics team closed out the Big Ten Championships event finals Saturday with five place-winners in State College, Pa.
"We in the West are perceived as soft. We'll probably be frightened to death and back off Sunday. But, remember, three of those soft Pac-10 teams made the NCAA's Elite Eight."
– Lute "Tongue in Cheek" Olson
SAN ANTONIO – If this was a beauty contest, hand the prize to Lute's hair and Arizona's pedigree.
SAN ANTONIO – His playing days ended in junior high, his jump shot isn't the prettiest to watch and he's more familiar with off-tackle dives than pick-and-rolls. But there's no bigger basketball fan these days than Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther, who is in San Antonio today and hopes to be in Minneapolis next weekend.
News-Gazette sports editor Jim Rossow spent a few minutes with the 1966 Illinois football MVP at the Alamodome, where the Illini play Arizona today for a trip to the Final Four:
SAN ANTONIO – They won't score a point, throw a pass or make a call.
But during today's Illinois-Arizona basketball game, Cindy Self, Pascale Roberts and Kim Judson will agonize just like they are the ones on the court.
CHAMPAIGN – Brandon Lloyd, as ebullient as they come, seems to have a certain effect on people.
Take Ron Turner, for instance.
"It brings a smile to my face when you mention his name," the Illinois football coach said Saturday.
Finally, like Santa Anna 165 years ago, I have seen the Alamo.
Unlike Santa Anna, I got lost on the way.
SAN ANTONIO – Nate Mast caught a couple of scoring updates during Illinois' game Friday night. Sean Harrington waited to watch highlights.
One way or another, the Illini have tried to keep tabs on their Big Ten brethren throughout the NCAA tournament.