HOOPESTON – Thad Matta already has a key to the city.
If Mayor Bill Dewitt has his way, it won't be long before Hoopeston tips its hat to the Ohio State coach again.
Hard to believe the Big Ten tournament turns 10 years old today. To celebrate, The News-Gazette's Bob Asmussen and Jim Rossow, who combined have been at the first nine shindigs, look back at the best and worst of Jim Delany's bright idea:
Champaign's Sam Banks, whose aching knees are giving him all sorts of problems, will retire from officiating after this season, his 20th in Division I.
Remember when Bob Knight and other old-guard Big Ten coaches said the league was making a mistake by staging a season-ending tournament? We're reminded each March how right the Big Ten was.
Brian Cardinal finally has found someone as scrappy as himself: 3-month-old Bryson Cardinal. While the NBA's finest went to Las Vegas for this weekend's All-Star activities, the former Purdue great and current Grizzlies veteran went home to Indiana to spend time with wife Danielle and their newborn son. The pride of Tolono, 29, who's averaging 4.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in 28 games this season, discussed NBA life, fatherhood and Purdue's resurgence under Matt Painter with sports editor Jim Rossow:
Looking at the bright side, Illinois has responded well to key suspensions in the Bruce Weber era. When Luther Head missed four games in the 2003-04 season, the Illini went 3-1.
Each year, we watch other Big Ten programs honor the past by retiring jerseys. Each year, we wish Illinois would follow suit.
Las Vegas is Lon Kruger's kind of town. Not because of the Strip but because of the college basketball opportunity. In his third year in the desert, the former Illini coach has the Runnin' Rebels on the verge of their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2000, which also was the last time Kruger coached in the Big Dance (at Illinois). The 54-year-old Kruger took time this week to talk about his failed NBA experiment, coaching his son and the Vegas nightlife with sports editor Jim Rossow:
If it wins today at Michigan State, go ahead and give Ohio State another Big Ten title.
He was a McDonald's All-American, a two-time Illini MVP, a Big Ten MVP and a first-round NBA draft pick. But that's where the basketball fun ended for former Illini Frank Williams, who is trying to resurrect his professional career in the NBA Development League. The point guard is turning heads again – he's averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 assists for the Sioux Falls Skyforce – and will find out if he made the NBADL All-Star Game in Las Vegas early next week. The Pride of Peoria talked about South Dakota weather, coping without his mother and his love for Illinois with sports editor Jim Rossow: