Illinois coach Craig Tiley has dipped into Florida once again for a tennis recruit. And this time, the newcomer will need no introduction to at least one of his future teammates.
LAHAINA, Hawaii – The flight takes a semester, a five-minute cab ride costs more than a turkey and the locals drive like it's Sunday morning all the time.
But it's hard to find a coach or player who wouldn't return to the Maui Invitational in a second.
LAHAINA, Hawaii – Of all the places to finally become tough, Illinois picks Maui, where grass skirts are on every corner, flowery shirts are on every rack and little umbrellas float in every fruity drink.
So what if the Illini breakthrough was accompanied by a cool ocean breeze and a lei around their necks? Bill Self would let his players wear sandals to the gym if they continue to show the resolve they did in Monday's late-night tournament opener.
LAHAINA, Hawaii – Brian Cook watched Michael Wright's rebounding act Monday morning. Later that night, he nearly duplicated it.
The Illinois sophomore grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to help the Illini rally past UNLV 74-69 in Monday's Maui Invitational opener for both teams. It topped his previous best of 10 against Ohio State in February and was the most for an Illini since Damir Krupalija's 16 against Indiana on Jan. 3, 1999.
It's not Louisville or Illinois or even No. 1 Arizona that concerns Gary Williams the most.
It's the Maui sun that keeps the Maryland coach up at night.
"It's a different sun than you'll find at home. It's a hotter sun," he said. "Ask Jay Burson."
LAHAINI, Hawaii – The shadiest casino in Las Vegas offers better odds than the ones Bill Bayno and his long-shot UNLV Rebels face at the Maui Invitational.
To win the tournament, the Rebels likely would have to beat three top-10 teams: No. 8 Illinois, No. 3 Maryland and No. 1 Arizona.
CHAMPAIGN – The call-in show was filled Saturday after Illinois' blowout loss to Northwestern and the people at the other end weren't happy.
They wanted some changes in the Illini defense. A few even suggested that coordinator Tim Kish be removed.
EVANSTON – Dustin Ward hadn't started a game in almost two years. That one didn't go the way he wanted, either.
The Illini's redshirt freshman quarterback struggled early in Saturday's game against Northwestern, missing five of his first seven passes. Playing in place of injured Kurt Kittner, Ward had 62 yards at halftime.