Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

Drafting a plan

CHAMPAIGN – Sometime in April, when the season is over and his bruises are healed, Frank Williams will sit down with his mother and college coach and figure out what he wants to do with his life.

Until then, he'll continue to attend classes and play point guard for Illinois.

Self won't reserve critical remarks

CHAMPAIGN – Bill Self was pleased to see Marcus Griffin back at practice Thursday. But not as pleased as the bench was to have Robert Archibald back.

Maybe now things can get back to normal.

Room to improve

   EVANSTON  For a team that''s in first place in the Big Ten all by its lonesome, Illinois sure is in a grumpy mood.

   The Illini looked so glum late Wednesday night you would have thought they almost lost to Northwestern or something.

Archibald fills in nicely for Illinois

   EVANSTON  He wasn''t perfect. He missed a shot, had a couple of turnovers and fouled out.

   But compared to his last start, Robert Archibald''s game Wednesday against Northwestern was Shaquille O''Neal-like.

UI's crystal ball out of order

EVANSTON – The temptation is to flip the calendar a page and circle Feb. 6 with a thick, red marker. That's when Michigan State, Illinois and ESPN meet in Champaign for what already is being billed as one of the most anticipated games in Assembly Hall history.

Assuming there are no slipups between now and then.

Archibald starting new trend

CHAMPAIGN – If he starts against Northwestern, Robert Archibald swears he'll play good defense, set solid picks on offense and go after every loose ball.

Plus, he'll stop fouling.

UI''s Bradford gaining momentum

   CHAMPAIGN  As Cory Bradford''s scoring and shooting numbers fell during the nonconference season, his Illinois teammates never lost faith.

   "He made it two years without really having back-to-back bad games," teammate Robert Archibald said. "When his production went down, it was because everyone else improved so much.

McClain eases pain caused by injuries with triple-double

CHAMPAIGN – He was reminded how versatile Sergio McClain can be, how valuable Damir Krupalija can be and how much of an advantage the Assembly Hall can be.

He once again saw a suffocating defense, a productive bench and some nit-picking referees.

Only one question remained for Illinois coach Bill Self after Saturday's 80-51 blowout of Michigan before another sellout crowd:

Illini jumping back in saddle

CHAMPAIGN – By the looks of Frank Williams' gait at Friday's practice and the looks on his teammates' faces after Thursday's loss, Illinois could use a breather instead of a basketball game today.

Hogwash, Lucas Johnson said. The Illini forward would rather take on Michigan at noon, not 7 p.m.

Reality check

IOWA CITY, Iowa – They thought their shooting eye was back, that the road wasn't such a bad place to be, that their run of injuries was over, that the Big Ten race had a favorable slant to it.

Then the seventh-ranked Illini shot like they were using a medicine ball. They let a band of Iowa fans get to them like a combine on corn. Their pulse of a point guard, Frank Williams, limped out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a tailbone so bruised he probably stood on the flight home.