Don Hardin's University of Illinois volleyball team wraps up the regular season tonight with a Big Ten road match against former Illini coach Mike Hebert and Minnesota.
MAHOMET – They've been joined at the basketball hip going on six years now: senior Matt Engstrom, the 6-foot-9 tower of power in the middle, and junior Brett Melton, the laser-accurate gunner.
These days, you can find this duo preparing for their final combined act at Mahomet-Seymour High School. A much anticipated act, Bulldogs fans will tell you.
CHAMPAIGN – When you have eight brothers and sisters, finding your niche is a big deal.
So when Taylorville freshman Allison Curtin joined the Illinois women's basketball team this fall, along with three other freshmen, she knew how to make herself fit in.
Members of The News-Gazette''s All-State football team:
WHEATON – Before the start of 1998 football season, Jim Beutjer set a goal for his son, Jon.
All the proud papa of the Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback expected was 55 or 60 completions ... for touchdowns.
In desperate need of big, athletic linemen – coach Ron Turner plans to recruit five young giants on offense and perhaps four on defense – the Illini have an advantage in the all-out chase for 280-pound south suburban standout Aaron Hodges.
"We're close," said Aaron of his brother Brian Hodges, the UI's starting tight end.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – They chased all night, chased and chased and chased, like that silly bunny on the TV commercials.
Ultimately, the Illini women ran out of time Tuesday night, gently shoved away from an upset bid of Notre Dame's seventh-ranked basketball team by the long arms of Ruth Riley and the timely shooting of guard Sheila McMillen.
Before Chicago basketball had No. 23, there was No. 25.
His name was Ben Wilson, and had he lived past the age of 17, the Flyin' Illini will tell you, he might have been the one with the statue outside the United Center and his own line of cologne.
Recruiting is the next critical item on Ron Turner's agenda, one that will help shape the future of his program.
But remember: Unless Chris Morton, whose record-breaking efforts have led Riverview Gardens into Missouri's 5A title game Saturday, lands on this campus with a level of maturity and quarterback skills never previously seen in a freshman at Illinois, success or failure in 1999 will be 95 percent dependent on athletes already here.