Kendall Gill on McCamey, Deron, Richmond and all Things Illini

kendall gill illinois

Everyone here knows Kendall Cedric Gill, retired NBA player, now professional boxer and analyst for Comcast Sports Net and the Big Ten Network.

The ex-Chicago Bulls player and current Bulls expert for CSN starred at suburban Rich South before taking his talents to Champaign-Urbana for the “Flyin’ Illini” of the late 80s, earning a Final Four berth in 1989. He’s quintessentially Chicago basketball through and through.

I had an exclusive with Gill this off-season. For part one on Bulls insights go here. For part two, discussing the 2010-11 Fighting Illini go here. Welcome to part three, discussing the past, present and future Illini

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Kendall Gill Optimistic About his Alma Mater (Illini) Chances

kendall gill illinois

Everyone here knows Kendall Cedric Gill, retired NBA player, now professional boxer and analyst for Comcast Sports Net and the Big Ten Network.

The ex-Chicago Bulls player and current Bulls expert for CSN starred at suburban Rich South before taking his talents to Champaign-Urbana for the “Flyin’ Illini” of the late 80s, earning a Final Four berth in 1989. He’s quintessentially Chicago basketball through and through.

I had an exclusive with Gill this off-season. For part one on Bulls insights go here.

Welcome to part two, discussing the 2010-11 Fighting Illini.

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Michigan vs. Illinois: Brutally Honest Game Preview

rich-rod

Guess who leads the Big Ten in rushing the past five years? Surprisingly, it’s not Ohio State or Penn State. During the Zook era (since 2005), it’s actually Illinois.

Illini: 196.1 yards per game. Wisconsin Badgers: 192.7 ypg in the five year span. That’s right, you just read something good about Illini head coach Ron Zook, a man deemed by many to be the college football equivalent of former Bulls and current Clippers leader Vinny Del Negro.

Get ready because here comes more Zook positive press.

At Illinois, he’s 2-1 against the Wolverines while Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez is 0-2 against Illinois. Zook is only the third coach in school history to beat Michigan twice in his career. Robert Zuppke (1913-41) defeated the Wolverines nine times and Ray Eliot (1942-59) had eight wins over UM.

In Ann Arbor, they’re calling for Rodriguez’s head yet again. And that’s silly because you need to give a coach, any coach, at least three-four years to get his system in place with his recruits before evaluating him.

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Illinois-Purdue: Brutally Honest Game Preview

illini-cheerleader

When you hear Illinois vs. Purdue, its sounds like a great Big Ten Tournament title game in Men’s basketball right? Well this Saturday the match on the gridiron, features two teams that will likely end up bowl eligible, so the winner likely gets a leg up in the bowl selection hierarchy come December.

Is Illinois the greatest 4-3 team in history? Maybe! They have faced the toughest schedule in the nation thus far according to the official NCAA schedule strength rankings. Illinois’ opponents have a combined record of 35-9 this season vs. Division I opponents (not counting their game vs. Illinois).

The three losses this season (Missouri, Ohio State and Michigan State) have a combined record of 22-1, with all three ranked in the top-11 of the current BCS standings. Illinois led two of the games at halftime and was on the verge of tying Ohio State late in the game before falling short in the red zone late in the fourth quarter.

By Paul M. Banks

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At Illini Madness, Joseph Bertrand Displays Regained Athleticism

illinois

In the grand scheme of things, does Midnight Madness mean anything? Probably not.

It is a marketing ploy to get students excited about the basketball season by allowing the players to show off absurd moves and dunks that likely have no place in a formal Bruce Weber practice.

For example, D.J. Richardson tried to teach Huff Hall how to dougie at Illinois‘ Midnight Madness Friday night.

But Illinois fans did get a pleasant surprise at Midnight Madness in the form of redshirt freshman Joseph Bertrand, who  won the knockout and slam dunk contests. While the contests were mostly a dog and pony show, Bertrand – who sat out all of last year with a torn lateral meniscus – flashed the athleticism that helped him win two IHSA Class 3A slam dunk championships as a junior and senior at Sterling high school.

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Michigan State-Illinois: Brutally Honest Game Preview

sparty

Ah there’s nothing quite like it when your alma mater takes on your MBA school. It happens every year, the conflicted feelings and ambivalence…OR NOT! When your grad school and undergrad clash, you ALWAYS go with the institution that awarded you your primary degree. And with apologies to the first Kanye West album, “you know what will keep me warm this winter- all those degrees.” 

For two “basketball schools,” the IllinoisMichigan State contest should be a very good one, and among the best contests on the Big Ten slate this Saturday. This marks the 44th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Spartans and the first at Spartan Stadium since 2006. Michigan State holds a 24-17-2 overall series advantage and leads 12-8-1 when playing in East Lansing. Last season, the Spartans won 24-14 in Champaign after the series took a two-year hiatus in 2007 and ’08.

By Paul M. Banks

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Illini Hoops Media Day Notable Quotables (Videos)

illinois

Last season, the Illinois Fighting Illini were one of the most schizophrenic teams in the Big Ten, if not the nation.

They beat Michigan State, a Final Four team in an emotional ESPN College Gameday event, and won at Wisconsin’s Kohl Center, where almost no one beats the Badgers. They also had Ohio State, a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament on the ropes in the conference tournament semis before angering/motivating Evan Turner, the man who swept last year’s national player of the year awards, to extinguish their NCAA hopes in double overtime.

I also watched from press row on my birthday as the Illini lost a “play-in game” of sorts at home to Minnesota, and heard them fumble away early season games to Utah and Bradley on a neutral court.

So this year it’s all about finding consistency and finding a true identity. Especially since expectations are bubbling up in Champaign. They have a loaded senior class in place, a talented sophomore class, and highly nationally ranked incoming freshmen.

If they learn to defend better, it could be a special year.

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Take It To The Bank, College Football Week 3


So I was sitting at the book at the Las Vegas Hilton over the weekend, and it was just like old times.

“Louie!!!”

“Hey, Louie, what’s cracking?”

“SECURITY!!!”

Now, maybe I groped that woman, maybe I didn’t. I’m an old man, and my mind ain’t what it used to be.

I do know, and I can say with absolute certainty…that those puppies were real. True story.

Now look, I don’t objectify women, but if they decide to come up to me, on a day where I am undefeated and making moneywell…I guess that money can be used as bail money too, huh?  Who’s with me?

I still got out with a slap on the wrist. Looks like fortune smiled down on ol’ Louie.

Maybe you can be just like me, Lucky. Heaven knows I was last week, now your chance to be Lucky like me. [Read more…]

Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase: Early Season Progress Report

scheelhaase

Illinois Fighting Illini starting QB Nathan Scheelhaase was asked all the typical scouting report questions at Illini Media Day; but only now, after seeing him in action for two games, do we have a better appreciation of his responses to those queries.

“Definitely have to say that speed is my strength, I’m not a slow guy. Coach (Paul) Petrino (Offensive Coordinator) and Coach (Jeff) Brohm (Illini quarterbacks coach) that’s the thing they love about me, but it’s also what they get on me most about- is when I don’t use my strength enough,” Scheelhaase said.

By Paul M. Banks

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Illini Take Down Salukis, Win Game They Should Have

illinois-fighting-illini
In the end it was a win that the Illini HAD to have.

Given the events of September 11th, 2010, it was far from a sure thing. [Read more…]

The Extremely Blunt Fighting Illini Football Preview

erin andrews and ron zook

I’m just not a soccer guy. The World Cup is fine, but it’s not my thing. I just can’t wait for college football to get here. Therefore, when College Football Zealots asked me to do their preview of the Illinois Fighting Illini 2010 season for them. I jumped at the chance.

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