Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

Johnson scores knockout blow

   SAN ANTONIO  You can''t blame Lucas Johnson for being tired after his Illini beat Kansas 80-64 Friday night.

   It wasn''t so much the season-high 25 minutes on the floor for the junior reserve.

Illini aren't intimidated by Sweet 16

SAN ANTONIO – There are teams that break into a cold sweat before big games. Others tap their toes and fidget incessantly. Some don't get a wink of sleep.

Illinois? It whips out the crayons and starts drawing.

Kansas fans give Cook the business

   SAN ANTONIO  When John Bush ran into Illinois'' Brian Cook on Wednesday night along the Riverwalk, the Kansas alum couldn''t help but give Cook some advice.

   "I told him to stay out all night and to start thinking about Arizona," Bush said. "I told him not to think about Kansas at all."

Self rumor mill grinds to a halt

SAN ANTONIO – If Tennessee makes a pitch for Bill Self, the Illinois coach will politely take a pass.

Self on Wednesday night denied any interest in the Volunteers opening after radio reports indicated he had agreed to interview for the job.

Togetherness can see UI through

SAN ANTONIO – He noticed more cameras in his face, more seats in the arena and more hangers-on in the hotel lobby.

But the thing Bill Self noticed most during last season's trip to the Sweet 16 was the unusually attentive look on his team's face.

Illini stay freee of superstitions during preparation

CHAMPAIGN – Bill Self's season as an assistant coach at Kansas was memorable because of a 35-win team and a superstitious coach.

When the Jayhawks put together a late-season winning streak, Larry Brown linked it to staff bowling outings arranged by Self. That none of the coaches could carry Dick Weber's bag didn't matter.

Williams, big sister staying alive in tournament play

CHAMPAIGN – When they were younger, Marlena Williams used to pick on younger brother Frank when the two played basketball.

Times have changed.

"The script flipped," Frank Williams said. "Now I'm in the teaching stage."

The Midwest Regional from A to Z

News-Gazette Sports Editor Jim Rossow's alphabetical look at the Midwest Regional semifinalists in San Antonio:

Business done, Illini pack bags for Texas sun

DAYTON, Ohio – Breaking down the wall to the Sweet 16 certainly was rewarding for Illinois.

Finding a forecast calling for 80 degrees and plenty of sun on the other side was an added bonus.

"San Antonio is beautiful this time of year," said center Marcus Griffin, one of the few Illini familiar with a city called every Texans' second home. "You can wear shorts. You don't need jeans, you don't need coats. You can just relax."

Self has a read on Kansas squad

   DAYTON, Ohio  Bill Self began his coaching career under Larry Brown at Kansas.

   His journalism career, too.