Tate: Illinois'' horizon packed to brim in coming days

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dee Brown, meet Clive Follmer! James Augustine, shake hands with Johnny "Red" Kerr!

Brown, Augustine and the sophomore-led Illini made their mark in history Sunday, building a 17-point lead and hanging on to nip Ohio State 64-63 for the school''s first undisputed Big Ten basketball championship since the Kerr era in 1952.


We asked our online readers to compare this season''s Illinois basketball team with the school''s recent Big Ten champions. Some responses:

''Relieved'' Illini basking in glory of league title

COLUMBUS, Ohio – He hasn''t stopped to catch his breath during this dizzying season, hasn''t come up for air since he dove into a new job 10 months ago.

And so it happens that Bruce Weber only recently got around to signing his first contract at Illinois.

Gleeful Illini faithful party like it''s 1952

SAVOY – It was a celebration 52 years in the making, and Illinois fans did it up right Sunday night when welcoming home their Big Ten Conference champion Illinois men''s basketball team.

"Fifty-two years is a long time, but we finally pulled it off," Illinois junior guard Luther Head told a spirited crowd – estimated by one Flightstar charter company official to be about 1,500 people – that flocked to Willard Airport after the Illini clinched the title outright for the first time since 1952 with a 64-63 victory against Ohio State.

The highlight zone

The Big Ten''s irregular regular season ends today, and though they say it was a down year in the league, there''s plenty to talk about. The News-Gazette''s Brett Dawson and Jim Rossow take a look back, including a glimpse at how Dawson probably will vote on his All-Big Ten ballot, due Monday:

Fun Fest gives players, fans chance to get acquainted

They threw passes to 3-year-olds. And smiled. They signed autographs for 6-year-olds. And laughed.

Kind of hard to tell who were the players and who were the kids Saturday at the annual News-Gazette Football Family Fun Fest.

UI Roundup: Fortune, Coriddi steer streaking Illini in right direction

Amanda Fortune tossed a three-hit shutout against Tennessee Tech and Rachelle Coriddi had four hits against UNLV as Illinois on Saturday moved into the semifinals at the Speedline Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.

Katie O''Connell was 3 for 3 to support Fortune in a 3-0 win. Fortune (9-1) had nine strikeouts. Against UNLV, Jenna Hall had three RBI and Lindsey Hamma had two hits and two runs.

Grentz, Illini at the crossroads

CHAMPAIGN – On the face of it, Illinois'' women''s basketball program has been here before.

It was a decade ago, to be precise. In 1994-95, the Illini posted a 10-win season and 10th-place Big Ten finish.

Right on the mark

IOWA CITY, Iowa – To mark his program''s latest head-turning accomplishment, Illinois men''s tennis coach Craig Tiley gathered his players after their record-tying 45th consecutive win Saturday.

And chewed them out.

Sky high

Eleven-thousand feet into turbulent air, Bruce Weber is at peace.

His cellular phone, a constant, chirping companion, catches a few rare moments of sleep.