Mezydlo: ''I say what I see''

ST. LOUIS – It''s Friday night, the Final Four is in town and the city is hopping.

College coaches, media members and frenzied fans have flocked to the cobblestone streets of the Landing.

Sights and sounds

Celebrity sightings are as common as three-pointers at the Final Four.

Actor and Roseanne''s ex-husband Tom Arnold was in St. Louis on Friday taping a remote of the "Best Damn Sports Show. Period!" from Laclede''s Landing on the riverfront.

On the ball

Sports editor Jim Rossow''s three reasons why we love the NCAA tournament:

Final Four''s best – yesterday

We asked staff writer Tony Bleill to look back at the best and worst of the NCAA tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Disagree? Let Bleill know he''s nuts by e-mail at

Is it finally next year?

CHAMPAIGN – The Tuscola seventh-grader sat in her bedroom, crying. Cassie Grimm couldn''t believe her beloved basketball team had lost a game.

"It was the ultimate downer for her," said her dad, Jim Grimm.

Who''s that Illini?

I came to Illinois from my hometown of Lawrenceville, where I led the Indians basketball team to the 1950 state tournament. I also held the state high school pole vault record for 11 years. Contributing as a scrappy 6-foot guard, the three Illini basketball teams for which I played compiled a cumulative record of 57-13. I also won a pair of Big Ten pole vault titles for UI track and field coach Leo Johnson. I returned to campus in 1958 and served for 15 years as an assistant coach to Harry Combes and Harv Schmidt. Today, I continue to work in Champaign-Urbana as an insurance broker for New England Financial.

Final Four''s finest – today

We asked staff writer Bob Asmussen to break down the teams – on and off the court – at this weekend''s Final Four. Complaints? Let Asmussen know he''s off his rocker by e-mail at

''89 Illini hope current team can avoid similar slip

Kenny Battle has seen the game film so often he can tell you when the timeouts are coming.

"A few thousand times," the former Illini said of the 1989 Final Four semifinal defeat against Michigan at the Seattle Kingdome.

The NBA''s gain isn''t really loss for the NCAA

ST. LOUIS – In the last two years, the NBA took LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and a grand total of 60 college and high school players possessing unused NCAA eligibility.

And already, on the eve of the Final Four, we see Utah''s Andrew Bogut, Arizona State''s Ike Diogu, Connecticut''s Charlie Villanueva and a couple George Washington athletes igniting another youthful flood into the pro circuit.

Trio earns fourth academic honor

PARK RIDGE – A total of 36 Illinois athletes in six winter sports were named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team, the conference announced Thursday.