Illini ace final exam

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Brian Blomquist came through when the Illinois baseball team needed him most.

The senior pitcher, an All-Big Ten pick last spring, threw eight shutout innings as the Illini wrapped up a spot in this week's Big Ten tournament with a 10-2 victory Sunday against Michigan State.

Illini's 'uphill battle' ends with Sweet 16 loss

PALO ALTO, Calf. – As the indoor season came to a close, Illinois men's tennis coach Brad Dancer figured his team could contend for a national championship.

But a combination of injuries, Ohio State and NCAA policy snuffed out any hint of momentum.

Brett's random thoughts

You might wonder why on earth Bruce Weber was speaking last week at a ceremony to swear in naturalized American citizens. At first, so did the Illinois basketball coach.

Asmussen: Zook getting comfortable with coaches

He is no longer the new guy in the conference. After more than a year at Illinois, Ron Zook continues to grow more comfortable among the Big Ten coaches.

Zook spent part of the week in Chicago with his Big Ten cohorts. He kidded Joe Paterno and had cordial conversations with the rest.

Plenty on Illini's to-do list

CHAMPAIGN – The Illinois women's basketball team will depart Monday for an Italian trip that includes four games against pro club teams, an excursion designed in part to benefit the team's core of inexperienced players.

And if you don't think the Illini are eager to see how things shake out, think again.

Bob's random thoughts

The folks at Florida, Georgia and the SEC have asked that their annual football game no longer be called "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." They went to CBS, ESPN and others with the request.

Comeback keeps playoff hopes alive

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Five of the six spots for the Big Ten baseball tournament have been filled.

Illinois can join the fun with a win today.

Dawson: Eastern behind Miller

You didn't give it a second thought when Bruce Weber's contract was extended earlier this month.

The Illinois coach, after all, has led the Illini to three straight NCAA tournaments, including a Final Four appearance. He has two outright Big Ten titles in three years at the helm in Champaign.

Tate: Athletes, coaches come first at Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – Back when Tom Porter coached Illini wrestling in the 1970s, he had roughly one scholarship for every two weight classes. He fielded half a funded team. And other UI programs had similar disadvantages.

Today's working phrase, "new money streams," hadn't been invented, much less uttered. Women were shortchanged and virtually unrecognized. Recruiting budgets were low, and Illini varsity teams struggled across the board.

Hall named to all-region team

URBANA – Former Illini Jenna Hall was selected to the All-Great Lakes Region first team and is eligible for consideration for All-America honors.