Brett''s random tournament thoughts

It was a pretty exciting day of basketball at the United Center, but none of it seemed to matter after about 7 p.m., when word got out that Bruce Weber''s mother, Dawn, had passed away during surgery.

Godfrey, UI women sitting pretty in first

Illinois junior Megan Godfrey carded a 2-over-par 74 and was tied for first at the Springlake Intercollegiate on Friday in Sebring, Fla.

The Illini, who also received a 75 from freshman Casey Burden, are in first place by 2 strokes ahead of High Point (311) in the 20-team event.

Asmussen: Augustine''s inside game blossoms in the early hours

Hide all the clocks from James Augustine. Pull down the shades. Tell him the game will start about the time the Oberweis folks are dropping off the milk.

Early-morning basketball apparently agrees with the Illinois player. It doesn''t do much for the rest of his teammates.

Tate: Illini primed for breakout after sloppy affair

CHICAGO – In a game ultimately shrouded by the death of coach Bruce Weber''s mother Friday, his Illini won without showing an energized response to the loss at Ohio State.

Yes, it was clearcut, 68-51, against Northwestern, marking the UI''s 12th straight win at the United Center.

Ticket grabbing getting tougher

CHICAGO – When the ticket-going gets tough, the tough go to Penn State.

That''s exactly what Kirk Polley and Phil Baker did to secure entrance to the Big Ten tournament. From their choice view high above center court, the Illinois graduates were giddy about their clever move.

Who''s that Illini?

"I played basketball at Illinois, lettering in 1912 and 13, coming to Champaign-Urbana from my home in Waukegan. I was the Illini captain in my final season. My greatest contribution as an American came as an artillery specialist in the Air Force during World War I. I died in September of 1918 when the German Army shot down my plane. You can find my name and that of fellow Illini athlete Edward Wallace (baseball) etched upon two of the 200 columns inside UI''s Memorial Stadium.

Minnesota''s the obstacle in semifinals

CHICAGO – His team probably punched its NCAA tournament ticket Friday. And how does Dan Monson get to celebrate?

With a game against top-ranked Illinois today in a Big Ten tournament semifinal.

Williams scores some hang time on flashy fast-break feed from Brown

CHICAGO – Deron Williams looked a little upset with the question, but it seemed fair to ask.

Williams, after all, is not the Illini''s highest flyer, not the most logical target for the pass he received during Illinois'' 68-51 win against Northwestern in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals – an off-the-glass, fast-break lob from running mate Dee Brown.

Sights and sounds

You know that "30-0" headline in Sunday''s News-Gazette that caused such a ruckus? Jim Matta had no problem with it. At all.

The smart man from Hoopeston, a longtime high school coach, understands the point of the headline wasn''t a prediction of the Illinois record.

UI men''s basketball box score

Illinois 68, Northwestern 51