Illini, Gophers to play at night

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois and Minnesota will play in one of five prime-time football games to be carried by the Big Ten Network.

The Illini visit the Gophers at 7 p.m. Nov. 3. Other night games include Indiana State at Indiana on Sept. 1, Syracuse at Iowa on Sept. 8, Duke at Northwestern on Sept. 15 and Indiana at Michigan State on Oct. 13.

Former women's assistant Wagner turned heads as recruiter

CHAMPAIGN – If Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther is looking for a women's basketball coach who has had success recruiting Chicago, he won't have to look too far this weekend.

Former Illini assistant LaVonda Wagner will return to town for a reunion celebrating the 10th anniversary of Illinois' Big Ten title team. Wagner was responsible for recruiting Angelina Williams, one of the last Chicago products to play for the UI.

Koester saves day for Illini

CHARLESTON – Brittany Koester hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the ninth inning to help the Illinois softball team avoid a doubleheader sweep Tuesday night against Eastern Illinois.

Koester's blast, her second of the season, gave Illinois a 5-3 win in Game 2.

Tate: Mattoon takes its baseball seriously

CHAMPAIGN – Mattoon High would never be labeled a basketball school.

The Green Wave cagers went 0-22 this past winter, drawing comparisons to the worst-ever quintets in the modern Big 12. Even with rival coaches taking it easy, their first four losses came to Danville 76-27, Bloomington 68-31, Centennial 65-27 and Taylorville 58-18, a deficit of 164 points. And it didn't get much better. They fell to Champaign Central 90-40 and 85-27.

Tate: Coaches have turned things around before at UI

CHAMPAIGN – This isn't Alabama, where 92,000 crazed football fanatics shattered national attendance records to watch new coach Nick Saban direct the spring game.

But there is genuine excitement sweeping Illini Nation for the first time since 2002, when the remnants of a Big Ten championship team flashed great hope but faded quickly in early-season losses to Missouri, Southern Mississippi and San Jose State, not to mention the first two Big Ten games against Michigan and Minnesota.

Davis shines, Illini fall

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Lars Davis hammered two home runs and Mike Rohde hit two triples, but Illini pitchers struggled mightily Sunday in a 17-12 loss to Iowa in Big Ten baseball action.

Illini starter Aaron Martin, a Georgetown-Ridge Farm product, was roughed up for six runs in the first two innings as Illinois (17-17, 7-7) found itself down 6-2 early.

Biding her time is paying off for Smith in a big way

URBANA – Makenzie Smith didn't know what was best for her when she arrived at the University of Illinois.

Some of her veteran softball teammates helped.

Jones ends on positive note heading into postseason

CHAMPAIGN – GD Jones, Illinois' lone senior men's tennis player, needed to win on Sunday.

After being sick the previous week, he wanted more than anything to play well during his last match at the Atkins Tennis Center.

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Tate: Williams earns endorsement from UI greats

CHAMPAIGN – Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn hooked up on a sunny Saturday, and the biggest Illini spring turnout in years – more than 10,000 – left Memorial Stadium with burgeoning expectations.

"Having a receiver like Benn will make Williams better," former Illini quarterback Jack Trudeau said. "Then if you add a running game, you take pressure off. The worst mistake is to ask a young quarterback to do it all by himself."