Tate: Illinois freshman sure doesn't play like a rookie

CHAMPAIGN – If you believe in jinxes, don't read any further.

Heaven knows, when a guy's on a streak – or pitching a no-hitter – a sure way to shatter it is to talk about it.


Storylines for tonight's game against Southeast Missouri State.

Who's that Illini?

I am the greatest base stealer in Illini baseball history. From 1979 to '82, I swiped 83 bases, a school record by a margin of 23 over the runner-up. I also own two of the top three single-season totals in UI history. In 1981, I stole a school-record 33 bases. The next season, I stole 30, which ranks third on the all-time UI list. An outfielder, I twice earned All-Big Ten honors, including second team in 1981.

Perimeter shooting out of bounds for Augustine

CHAMPAIGN – James Augustine isn't one of those obsessive stat guys.

He's more likely to make a crack about his shooting percentage than try calculating it. It's unlikely he knows where his scoring average ranks in the Big Ten.

Who's that Illini?

I made three trips to the NCAA wrestling meet and never placed lower than third. The first time I qualified was the most memorable as I won the 158-pound crown.The next year, I also reached the title bout before losing. In 1997, I entered the NCAA meet as the reigning Big Ten champion. I still rank third in Illini career victories (121).

The insider

News-Gazette beat writer Brett Dawson's weekly look at the game he loves:

Tate: Illini can't have enough quality big men

Rumors keep percolating that Riverton's 7-foot Mike Tisdale soon will have a handshake deal with Bruce Weber.

Coming directly behind the commitment given by Peoria Richwoods' 6-9 Bill Cole, that would consume five of the UI's seven scholarships currently available over the next two years.

Tate: Fans often have selective memories

If the pre-Christmas signing of Johnny Damon didn't open our eyes, we're too far gone to see the light.

There's something terribly wrong in the world when Damon, who helped shatter a historic New England hex dating to Babe Ruth, is standing before the cameras, shorn of his hairy identification and diving into the Yankee pot of gold.

Illini football coach praised

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley was named one of college football's top recruiters, according to

Ask the expert

After all the buzz about Eric Gordon in The News-Gazette, I'm anxious to see him myself. When is my best opportunity?