UI has plenty to celebrate, including Jones'' 1,200th win

CHAMPAIGN – First, Illinois pitcher Ted Rowe ended an eight-week wait for his second victory of the season.

Then, Vince DiMaria made sure Illini coach Itch Jones wouldn''t have to wait one day more for his 1,200th career victory.

Future''s on line for Illini tackle

CHAMPAIGN – If you thought it was long watching 10 hours of NFL draft coverage, just imagine if your future was riding on seeing your name on that TV screen.

That was the case for Illinois senior Sean Bubin, who was glued to the set at his Champaign apartment for most of Saturday.

Seal of approval

The NBA scrap heap is piled high with their names. They are trivia question answers and joke punchlines, and Deron Williams is determined never to be one of them.

They are guys like – and try not to snicker – Marcus Taylor, Rod Grizzard and Marquis Estill, college players with big reps but without NBA credentials.

Asmussen: If Twins win, Illinois could be on move again

The folks in the Big Ten and at Minnesota will keep a close eye on Houston in mid-July. July 13 to be exact.

That night, Minute Maid Park hosts its first All-Star Game. Both the Big Ten and Minnesota leaders have a rooting interest. They will pull hard for Barry Bonds, Kerry Wood and their pals from the NL.

UI misses its chance in tennis

Its 11-match winning streak ended. And likely so did Illinois'' shot at a first Big Ten women''s tennis title.

No. 25 Indiana won the doubles points and held off Illinois 4-3 on Saturday, handing Sujay Lama''s program its first defeat since March 7.

Buckeyes one-up UI on offense

URBANA – Ohio State scored a run without a hit. Illinois couldn''t get a hit to score a run.

The visiting Buckeyes claimed a 1-0 Big Ten Conference softball victory Friday at Eichelberger Field, further hindering the Illini''s quest for a conference title. Michigan holds a four-game lead ahead of the UI with seven games remaining.

Illinois intensity cannot be matched

URBANA – Illinois'' match with Purdue was, for all intents and purposes, over.

The No. 1 Illini men''s tennis team grabbed the doubles point, then took three straight singles contests to win the match before the sun set on the Atkins Tennis Center courts.

Former Illini walk-on a hit as NFL expert

RIVERWOODS – He didn''t know it at the time, but Nolan Nawrocki''s final year at Illinois provided perfect training for his future career. The Chicago native was taking graduate classes, playing football as a walk-on and working an assistantship within the College of Journalism placement office.

Turns out long hours and little sleep are job hazards for an NFL draft expert like Nawrocki, who lettered for the Illini in 1998-99. Nawrocki compiles Pro Football Weekly''s Draft Preview book – 192 pages of analysis on nearly 500 players who could be selected in this weekend''s draft, which starts at 11 a.m. today.

Deja blue in openers for Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – Now the Illinois baseball team knows how Bill Murray felt in the movie "Groundhog Day."

Like Murray''s character, the Illini are trapped in a seemingly endless loop of repetition. Their own Groundhog Day occurs each Friday, the opening day for Big Ten series. And, to make another movie analogy, it''s starting to feel a whole lot like "Friday the 13th" to the beleaguered Illini.

Illini''s Jones second to one

Illinois'' Abe Jones was second in the 400-meter hurdles Friday at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

Jones clocked in at 51.66 seconds, 0.04 behind winner Pat Brown of Oklahoma Baptist.