New Illini Athletics HOF Class Announced; Still No Quarterbacks

Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke, 1995 Butkus Award winner Kevin Hardy and long-time NBA star Derek Harper headline 15-person Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Class for 2020. The class, which was announced just minutes ago, includes athletes and coaches from nine different sports and covers athletes from 1901 through 2013.

It’s only the fourth such class in Illini athletics history and when you look at the full class, aggregated with the previous three, you have plenty of snubs to point out. (And we’ll do that in another post shortly). What’s most glaring here? Still not a single quarterback in the hall yet.

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Dee Brown Retains Asst. Position Under New Coach at UIC

dee brown

Despite the change in leadership at UIC, Illinois Fighting Illini legend Dee Brown will remain on board as an assistant coach. Luke Yaklich, announced last week as the Flames new head coach, has formalized his staff, and it includes Brown, Will Veasley and Brock Erickson.

Yaklich, a former Texas and Michigan assistant, takes over for Steve McClain, who was dismissed on March 13, after leading the program for five seasons.

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Giorgi Bezhanishvili Has the Best Advice to Get Through Pandemic

Giorgi Bezhanishvili and the #21 ranked Illnois Fighting Illini were on the verge of making the program’s first NCAA Tournament since 2013 when the postseason got canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sophomore forward from Rustavi, Georgia realizes that the world is facing problems that are much bigger than basketball, but it still hurts to think about what they missed out on.

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Brad Underwood Provides Updates on Illini Offseason

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Illinois Fighting Illini coach Brad Underwood met the media via teleconference today, in an extensive session that covered a wide range of topics. Illinois finished the season ranked #21 in the nation, and they were projected to be about a #6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

They stood a great chance of progressing to the second weekend of March Madness. “We assumed we’d be making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament so there wouldn’t be any spring break,” Underwood said today of the team’s plans in early March, and how they gelled with the school’s academic calendar.

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Illini Football Players, Coaches Get Creative in Quarantine Workouts

Exit press conferences and locker room access.

Enter Zoom, Cisco WebEx and teleconferences.

That’s the new normal for sports media amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Exit the weight room and group training.

Enter bench press pressing tires, pulling/pushing motor vehicles and jumping on to garbage cans.

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Lovie Smith Optimistic We’ll Have Football in 2020

Illinois Fighting Illini Coach Lovie Smith is optimistic that there will be a college football season in 2020. Yesterday, while on teleconference with the media, Smith said his “glass is half-full” on the matter.

“Eventually, we’re going to play football,” Smith told a group of reporters by telephone. “In the meantime, we’re going to do what we can do. It’s bigger than football.”

Of course, we have a very long way to go from the current mandate of staying at least six feet from one another at all times to packing stadiums for several hours every Saturday with tens of thousands of people. At the same time, it’s also hard to speculate on August while we’re still in March.

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C Doug Kramer to Be Key Illini on Offense Next Fall

“The center cannot hold” as the saying goes.

No, because holding results in a penalty.

But at Illinois, the position is one of the strongest, as rising senior Doug Kramer was rated the third best among all who line up there in the power five by Pro Football Focus. He’s a three-year starter who had started 27 consecutive games before missing the RedBox Bowl loss to California because of an injury suffered in the regular season finale.

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LB Jake Hansen Could Lead Illini to B1G West Sleeper Status

The Illinois Fighting Illini, coming off a surprising bowl appearance season in 2019, could be a sleeper team in the Big Ten West division this fall. That is of course provided the coronavirus pandemic is cleared up in time to get college football season started in late summer.

As it stands, spring college football practice season has been wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, a topic that Illinois star linebacker Jake Hansen joined the Illini’s media teleconference to discuss on Monday morning.

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Schedule of Classic NCAA Tournament Games Airing this Week

For many of us, the NCAA Tournament, “March Madness,” is the greatest time of the year. Obviously we won’t have it this year. And while that’s absolutely awful for all involved, it’s completely neccessary and the right thing to do, for our civilization.

Hey, misery loves company, so we’re all going without the NCAA Tournament together. That’s where CBS Sports Network comes in as they will re-air 26 classic NCAA Tournament games, highlighting the first two rounds up until the Elite Eight.

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Giorgi Bezhanishvili Works on Post Moves in Quarantine (Video)

Giorgi Bezhanishvili may not have the kind of season that a lot of Illini basketball fans had hoped for, but he’s still the team’s alpha dog when it comes to having a phenomenal sense of humor.

Illinois’ best player? No. The guy on the squad with the most personality? Absolutely! You can see why Illini coach Brad Underwood raves about the sophomore from Rustavi Georgin, Georgia and his magnetic charm in the video below.

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Ayo Dosunmu: Future of Illini PG More Uncertain than Ever

With all of college sports shut down now for the time being, a lot of questions persist. When will they restart? How does this effect recruiting and NBA Draft early entry? What will happen with the NBA Draft exploratory process? The Combine?

Will there even be a combine or a draft? Illinois sophomore point guard Ayo Dosunmu is someone for whom all these questions definitely apply. He had an opportunity to potentially pursue the next level last off-season, and he will, at least in theory or on paper, have another chance this off-season. The Morgan Park high school graduate has very high NBA Draft stock, but his hometown of Chicago, which hosts the combine every year, might not. After all, the combine is in early May, and the way things are right now, that seems pretty soon in terms of returning to normalcy.

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Brad Underwood Closes Book on Memorable Illini Basketball Season

brad-underwood illini basketball

Yesterday, Illini head basketball coach Brad Underwood spoke to the media and said goodbye for the season. It was special season that no Illinois fans wants to part with, but albeit here we are. We must grudgingly accept it.

“I think you just kind of pause for a moment, and you realize the abruptness of it, but you realize the raw emotion that’s going to be there and how bad you feel, yet in Illini basketball, there was a lot to be proud of, and I wanted to make sure that they understood what they had done,” Brad Underwood said at a press conference on March 13, 2020, about the recent announcements and cancellations in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They brought us back to national prominence. They brought us back to the NCAA Tournament.”

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