Jump in the car Wednesday morning, and point southeast. Seven hundred miles later, you realize it is a tiny, tiny world.
Walking into Littlejohn Coliseum on Thursday morning with women''s basketball guru Tony Bleill, I saw a familiar face in the distance. As we got closer, I couldn''t believe my eyes. It was former Illini assistant football coach Denny Marcin.
CLEMSON, S.C. – If its a tournament, Tauja Catchings must be in the spotlight.
It is not a difficult trend to spot. Often described as a competitor – the ultimate compliment in Theresa Grentzs vernacular – Catchings took on a new role at the Big Ten tournament, at times taking over the Illini offense.
Under a strict interpretation of U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter's ruling Monday, freshman "partial qualifier" Frank Williams would be eligible to play this week if Illinois had qualified for NCAA or NIT play.
There's a small window of time while the NCAA's general counsel seeks a stay and prepares an appeal on Buckwalter's decision that minimum test scores affecting freshman eligibility are racially discriminatory.
CHAMPAIGN – Tauja Catchings will play as if her life depends on the outcome. Theresa Grentz will dazzle the assembled media with a witty one-liner. And Littlejohn Coliseum will be filled with enough orange to cover a highway full of construction barrels.
Here are five other things to look for as the Mideast sub-regional unfolds in Clemson, S.C.
CHAMPAIGN – This time, conventional wisdom espouses that Illinois' women's basketball team will not escape the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Serving as sub-regional hosts each of the past two seasons, the Illini were expected to reach the Sweet 16. That's what sub-regional hosts do. Last season, 12 of the 16 hosts reached the regionals. In 1996-97, 14 of 16 advanced past the second round.
First baseman Jeff Houston collected four hits, including two doubles, scoring two runs and driving in two as Southern Illinois trounced Illinois 11-0 in college baseball action Wednesday in Carbondale.
Most of the NCAA tournament broadcast choices are easy for WCIA. The Champaign station wants the Big Ten, and CBS is happy to oblige.
But Friday night's late slot presents a problem.
Steve Fisher remembers thinking one thing after watching the Flyin' Illini maul Michigan in their final NCAA tournament tuneup.
Hope we don't have to see these guys again.
The Illinois women's basketball game against Louisville will start at 4:07 p.m. Friday and be televised by WCIA-TV.
Who says Illinois doesn't have a team in the NCAA tournament?
How about "Illinois Southwest" in Las Cruces? Lou Henson, the UI's 21-year coach, hired a Northeastern Illinois assistant coach, Thomas Trotter, who influenced five players from that defunct program to join the Aggies, and they also recruited Wheaton's Eric Channing and Hyde Park's Damond Williams.