PALO ALTO, Calf. – As the indoor season came to a close, Illinois men's tennis coach Brad Dancer figured his team could contend for a national championship.
But a combination of injuries, Ohio State and NCAA policy snuffed out any hint of momentum.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Illinois fans took a chartered bus to cheer on Brad Dancer's Illini on Saturday.
They made such a positive impact that Dancer is hoping for a similar excursion to next week's Sweet 16 match.
It's hard to rile Craig Tiley these days.
He's Mr. Tennis in a place that treats the sport like Illinois does basketball. He's got the ear of everyone who's anyone, from Roger Federer to Andy Roddick. He lives on the beach, for heaven's sake, a short drive from his office in a postcard of a city, Melbourne.
CHAMPAIGN – Brad Dancer knows how important Chief Illiniwek is to Illinois fans.
The coach also knows his Illinois men's tennis team, ranked eighth in the country and seeded seventh in the NCAA tournament, won't host first- and second-round matches like other national contenders.
CHAMPAIGN – On the list of future honorary coaches, Neil Rackers would have been about No. 105 when he first arrived on the Illinois campus in 1995.
But there he was Saturday, helping the Orange team to a 20-17 victory against the Blue. It figures that the winning points came on a Jason Reda field goal.
Sports Editor Jim Rossow offers five positives and five negatives from Saturday's scrimmage. First, the positives:
With Illinois eliminated from the NCAA tournament, what are The News-Gazette's basketball coverage plans in the coming weeks?
The Big Ten coaches have had their say, and the media ballots have been cast. But The News-Gazette's Brett Dawson and Jim Rossow have their own All-Big Ten take. A look at this year's winners and losers:
As a player at Illinois, he was a straight shooter and smart cookie. As an assistant coach at Illinois, he was a top-notch recruiter. Now Judson (Class of '80) is making news as a head coach. His injury-riddled Northern Illinois Huskies clinched a share of the Mid-American Conference West title Wednesday and can win it outright by beating Western Michigan today. Before heading to Kalamazoo, Mich., Judson took time to discuss family life, the NCAA tournament and retiring jerseys with sports editor Jim Rossow: