Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

No place like home

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – It hasn't gotten to the point where Bill Self pulls a Gene Hackman, whips out the tape measure and makes sure his players realize the Bryce Jordan Center rims are 10 feet from the ground, just like they are at the Assembly Hall.

But a few more nights of shabby shooting on the road, and Self might want to dust off his copy of "Hoosiers" for some psychological pointers.

Tragedy impacts Self

CHAMPAIGN – He won't be able to attend Wednesday's memorial service in Stillwater, Okla., because of his team's game at Penn State.

But Illinois coach Bill Self already has found a way to salute the 10 people killed when a chartered flight carrying members of Oklahoma State's basketball traveling party crashed Saturday in Colorado.

Central''s Mast rights Illinois ship

   ANN ARBOR, Mich.  Bill Self would like to say he planned on using Nate Mast all along, that his decision to insert the former walk-on from Champaign Central late in the first half was a premeditated act.

   But Self''s substitution was as spur-of-the-moment as it comes.

Business as usual

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – One of these days, Illinois is going to waltz into a Big Ten gym, play like a Top 10 basketball team is supposed to and win without having to nibble on its fingernails until the lights are turned off.

Marcus Griffin probably will be watching on TV somewhere, his days as an Illini long gone.

Big Blues

Johnny Orr can't make the turn at his favorite Naples, Fla., golf course without having someone pop the question.

What's wrong with Michigan basketball?

Griffin waiting for his own OK

CHAMPAIGN – Marcus Griffin doesn't need an X-ray, trainer or coach to tell him when he can play.

Just a mirror.

Road rough defensively for McClain

CHAMPAIGN – Sergio McClain's push for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year hits another potential snag Thursday at Michigan.

The Illinois senior will be matched against LaVell Blanchard, who scored a career-high 30 points Saturday in Michigan's upset of Iowa. Blanchard, who shared Freshman of the Year honors with the UI's Brian Cook last season, ranks second in scoring (17.8) in the Big Ten.

Win streak lifts Illinois to No. 7

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois is back in the Top 10, leads the Big Ten and has three more games against unranked competition before Michigan State comes to town.

That doesn't mean today's practice is called off.

Fletcher happy returning favor to UI

   CHAMPAIGN  A few weeks from now, Darrin Fletcher will report to Florida for spring training. A year from now, the former Illinois catcher hopes he has the same option.

   With his time off winding down, the Oakwood native made a trip Saturday to Champaign, big check in hand.

That's more like it

CHAMPAIGN – He thanked his point guard for his defensive effort, his offense for scoring so many points and his bench for showing flare again.

But Bill Self saved his biggest pat on the back to someone who wasn't even in uniform during Saturday's pummeling of Penn State.