Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

Illini will face top freshmen  unless he''s hurt

CHAMPAIGN – The fans have done their part, scooping up every available ticket.

Television has done its part, CBS sending out Saturday's signal to a national audience.

Illinois has done its part, bringing in a Top 10 nonconference opponent for the first time since 1993.

Illini all business in taming Wildcats

MANHATTAN, Kan. – In a frenetic first month, they've played in cramped gyms, against top-ranked teams and in high-pressure situations.

Now Illinois can say it's seen the other side of college basketball. And survived.

Melton taking charge

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Brett Melton couldn't wait to get home Saturday night and tell his parents the big news.

It had nothing to do with the career-high eight points he scored against Kansas State. It had everything to do with the charge he drew late in the first half.

Williams' point well-taken by UI

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Frank Williams made a point by not scoring a single one.

"I think I played a great game," the Illinois point guard said after Saturday's 76-56 win at Kansas State. "I got my teammates involved, and we won. That was important."

Cook doesn''t follow up on strong start

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The bus trip from Greensboro Coliseum to the airport took about 15 minutes after Tuesday's loss to Duke.

It seemed like hours to Brian Cook.

"Everyone knows I (stunk)," the Illinois sophomore said. "I was terrible, double-clutching on shots. On the bus ride home, I kept playing it back in my mind like, 'What am I doing?' "

No time for Illini to relax

   CHAMPAIGN  Bill Self has bigger worries than Brian Cook''s state of mind, Damir Krupalija''s knee, Robert Archibald''s back or next week''s polls.

   It''s purple and white and has a real important football game Saturday.

Self feels Bennett's pain

CHAMPAIGN – Hired in June, Bill Self already is climbing the seniority list among Big Ten coaches.

Northwestern and Wisconsin have made changes after Self's arrival to Illinois. The Badgers on Thursday promoted assistant Brad Soderberg to acting coach when Dick Bennett announced his surprise retirement.

McClain makes most of his moment

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Sergio McClain got the best of Shane Battier.

Duke got the best of Illinois.

Duke keeps Illinois frustrated against top-ranked opponents

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Dick Vitale stalked press row during halftime, telling anyone within earshot that Illinois has 1989 potential.

Sergio McClain, motivated by the presence of the preseason Player of the Year Shane Battier, played with a sparkle in his eyes last seen four years ago.

Harrington has hot hand

CHAMPAIGN – Sean Harrington brought back more than souvenirs from Hawaii. The stroke that almost did in Arizona still is in his possession, too.

The sophomore from Elgin continued his push for more playing time with a career-high 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting in the UI's 86-67 win against Texas Southern on Sunday.