Tim Beckman unveils the 2015 Illini football version of “W.I.N.T.”


tim-beckman-wint

This offseason, fourth year Illini football coach Tim Beckman has introduced a new acronym catch-phrase/motivational mantra for his program.

“Whatever is Necessary Today.” or “W.I.N.T.” was the slogan Tim Beckman used to motivate and lead the Illinois Fighting Illini in 2013. It was much maligned by the Chicago media.

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Illini basketball: updated tourney bubble watch


rayvonte-rice illini basketball

2014-15 Illini basketball, sans Rayvonte Rice, has gone 6-3 (67% winning percentage) on the season. They are 11-7 with him, for a winning percentage of 61%. A difference in winning percentage of 6% doesn’t tell the whole story though.

Although the winning percentages are the same with and without Rayvonte Rice, the level of competition has been almost literally twice as formidable. At least if you believe the average RPIs of the opposition.

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Lou Henson, greatest coach in Illini history, earns Hall of Fame entry


lou-henson-illini-basketball

The street adjacent to Assembly Hall in Champaign-Urbana is honorary Lou Henson Way for a reason. Lou is the all time winningest coach in Illinois basketball history.

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Analyzing Illini basketball NCAA Tournament chances


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It is the job of John Groce and his players to be focusing only on Michigan State this Sunday. It is the job of the Illini basketball media to do the opposite. People who only tell you what Illini basketball did and not what they could or might do aren’t journalists; they’re stenographers.

Coaches and players are only doing their jobs when they espouse all the pointless “one game at a time,” “next man up” and “we’re 0-0 right now” cliches. Media members who print/air those phrases are committing journalistic malpractice however. It’s our job to look ahead. In college basketball, more than any other sport, the postseason is everything.

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Despite “Orange Out,” Illini basketball still has attendance issues


assembly hall illini basketball

I hate to be the Illini basketball version of the Federal Reserve Chairman and “take the punch bowl away once the party has started,” but someone has to.

William McChesney Martin, the ninth Fed Chair of these United States coined that phrase to encapsulate his position with an easy to understand analogy.

Today, you’ll see lots of Illini basketball game recap stories, even though that specific genre of sports writing became a dinosaur at least a half-decade ago. These shopworn game recap stories will probably overlook the fact that last night’s energy and excitement has largely been the exception, and not the 2014-15 Illini basketball rule.

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How to fix the annual Illini basketball United Center game


united_center-ESPN-illini-basketball

It was officially announced yesterday that Illinois and Northwestern will meet in football at Soldier Field this fall. They will play each other again on the lakefront in three of the next five years in total. This is a brilliant move on the part of Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas. It’s an excellent attempt to get the Chicago market, a die-hard pro sports town, interested in college football.

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Illini football to face Northwestern at Soldier Field this season


illini-football-ryan-lankford

In an effort to boost the profile and interest of both programs in the Chicago area, Illini football and Northwestern football will meet three times in the next four years at Soldier Field.

The series commences this fall.

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Illini football: nine things to be REALLY POSITIVE about


mikey-dudek-illini-football

Yesterday, Illini football coach Tim Beckman stole the show on National Signing Day by challenging the media to write more positive stories about his program. As I said yesterday, it is not the job of the media to hype up and glorify the Illini football program- that’s what publicists do.

In a talk radio interview later that day, Beckman said he was just asking the media for help. Well, if you want more positive coverage, win more games. Don’t be a total embarrassment in your losses. Accomplish these two tasks and you’ll see a lot more glowingly positive news stories on Illini football.

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Tim Beckman lands best class ever, issues challenge to all media who cover him


tim-beckman-illini-football-reilly-o-toole

National Signing Day is never boring at the University of Illinois. Certainly not in the Tim Beckman era. Today, he hauled in his best class ever during his time in Champaign as the class of 2015, or “FIGHTING FORCE 15″ as Tim Beckman referred to it, ended up with the following rankings:

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Malcolm Hill, Jaylon Tate highlights of down Illini basketball season


malcolm-hill-illini-basketball

Jaylon Tate and Malcolm Hill (along with Kendrick Nunn to a lesser extent) have been the bright spots in what has been a very dark season.

In our latest bracketology, Illinois  didn’t even make the “first four out” or “next four out” category. Beating a really bad Rutgers team tonight at home won’t exactly move the Illini onto the bubble, but a loss would be crippling to any fleeting NCAA Tournament chances.

Yet this is not another “Negative Ned” Illini basketball op-ed/column/essay. We’re here to talk Malcolm Hill and Jaylon Tate, the good stuff.

Of course, to get we have to “clear the brush” by talking about the gloom and doom.

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Nunn, Tate, Starks can get Illini basketball to NCAAs


kendrick-nunn illini basketball

As it currently stands, Illinois is a “next four out” of the NCAA Tournament kind of team. That means a win or two puts them in “first four out” territory. A small winning streak would get them off the NIT bubble. No small task given that the team’s best player, Rayvonte Rice, is out for a few weeks.

The “Ewing Theory” manifested itself in a huge signature win over a very good Maryland team ten days ago.

However, that momentum didn’t last and now Illini basketball is in some trouble this season.

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Nick Rakocevic would be a great get for Fighting Illini


nick rakocevic

Given the state of this Illinois Fighting Illini basketball season, it’s understandable why one might start looking far ahead. According to recruiting service 24/7 Sports, Illinois is the front-runner to land 6’10” Class of 2016 Nick Rakocevic, from St. Joseph in suburban Westchester.

That Crystal Ball thinggee has the Illini at 67%, Duke 33% for the #59 overall national prospect (24/7’s rankings).

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