Illini breaking in new marketing slogan

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“ILLINOIS. OUR STATE. OUR TEAM.” will be displayed within advertising and marketing campaigns around the state.

The Illini will probably no longer be taking shots at Northwestern and their “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” slogan. Hopefully, that nonsense is over with the new Illinois re-brand

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NBA Draft: Don’t draft No Orange “Heeled” Fighting Illini

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I am doing a little research on previous drafts, trying to figure out which players will be successful in the NBA. Here is today’s post about NBA Draft Don’ts. [Read more…]

Michigan game could decide Northwestern’s season

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Four games into the season, it’s difficult to describe a game as must-win, particularly when you’re talking about Northwestern, and especially when the opponent is #12 Michigan. The Wolverines are 5-0 on the season, and have impressed thus far. The ‘Cats on the other hand, are in a two-losses-in-a-row slippery slope. Lose to Michigan, and that slope will get a whole lot steeper. [Read more…]

Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year comes down to Scheelhaase and White


Four weeks ago, The Sports Bank’s founder and senior writer Paul Banks named Illini freshman QB Nathan Scheelhaase the most likely candidate to win 2010 Freshman of the Year. Deservedly so, as Scheelhaase grabbed Big Ten Offensive Player and Freshman of the week after a magnificent win over Purdue where he went for 118 on the ground and tossed four touchdowns through the air.

But, that was all before the Wisconsin Badgers took off as one of the hottest teams in the country behind one of the most potent rushing attacks in all of college football. An instrumental piece of the Badgers’ rushing attack is freshman RB James White who has run for 1,029 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Together, Scheelhaase and White have combined for nine of the twelve Big Ten Freshman of the Week Honors given out throughout the season. When the Big Ten Freshman of the Year Award is given out Monday night, one of these guys will surely be the recipient. The question is, which one?

By: Nick Grays

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Illini Nights at Minor League Baseball Coming Up

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University of Illinois head football coach Ron Zook and head basketball coach Bruce Weber will visit with Fighting Illini fans in Chicagoland twice during the month of June for Illini Nights at Minor League Baseball. They will attend the Kane County Cougars game on June 8 at 6:30 pm as well as the Schaumburg Flyers game on June 22 at 7 pm.

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Fighting Illini All-Decade Team Defense and 2nd Team

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By Paul M. Banks & Paul Schmidt of  The Sports Bank and Joe Kutsunis of Hail to the Orange, “Home of the Blogging Illini”

For the All-Decade First Team Offense click here

First team Defense

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Fighting Illini All-Decade 1st Team Offense

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By Paul M. Banks & Paul Schmidt of  The Sports Bank and Joe Kutsunis of Hail to the Orange, “Home of the Blogging Illini”

For the 1st team defense and second teams click here

First team Offense

QB Kurt Kittner  – Though he only played two seasons this decade, Kittner deserves the nod here. He led the team to the Sugar Bowl and a Big Ten Championship in 2001, and did it without the benefit of a great running back corps (undersized Rocky Harvey and bulky Antoineo Harris the main contributors). With the passing game being the main focus of the offense, Kittner was still able to dissect opposing defenses.  Still, it was a close finish between him, Juice Williams and surprisingly Jon Beutjer (whose career stats are surprisingly impressive – like second all-time in Illini history for passing efficiency). Kittner’s overall winning record as a starter pushes him over the top.

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#20 Illini Fighting on in Las Vegas Invitational

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By Paul M. Banks

It’s Feast Week! When there’s non-stop college basketball, so many games start at bizarre times. And not just because games are going on in obscure parts of the world in far away time zones. In order to accommodate the television coverage, some games start at…like this one starts at 8:30 pm. #20 Illinois vs. the Wofford Terriers in the second round of the Las Vegas Invitational. Hence the late start time, so ESPNU could televise this game. weber

Wofford is no push over, they won at Georgia, and lost by one possession to Pittsburgh.

Of course, I’m not sure Pitt is that good, and Georgia might just get kicked out of the SEC they are so bad so…..

The Illini will also get a late tip off in the 3rd round taking on Utah at 9:30 PM Friday. In game 4 on Saturday, Illinois will meet either Bradley or Oklahoma St. Here’s hoping it’s OSU only because I’M A MAN!!! I’M 40!. Ok I’m 32, but you get the idea. BTW, Illinois beat Presbyterian 94-48 in the opening round of this game.

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Brando Paul comes in leading the Illini in scoring at 16.7 PPG, Mike Davis is second at 12 ppg, D.J. Richardson is 3rd at 11.3. So the Illini are getting a lot of scoring from their freshmen wings.  Tip off has begun. McCamey takes and misses the first shot.

Wofford comes out shooting 8-2, WU 17:30 left

DJ Richardson drains a 3, following a Mike Tisdale skyhook. 1st tv timeout ILL trail 10-9

Do they really need the screaming sound effect here? when they play the Indian war hymn. I get it it’s the “House of ‘Paign” in Champaign. but we don’t need the sadist sound effect.

Wofford is just owning the 3 pt line right now. They’re going to have to miss sometime. Weber is screaming at Demetri to move and at the whole team to “look inside”

BTW, McCamey just missed badly.

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Tell me again why this team is ranked #20? when they’re down 8 to a mid-major 12 min in?

In the words of Zhane, “hey mr. DJ, all night…on and on and on”….he hit a three to cut the deficit to 3, but then what would you expect? Terriers hit a 3 again. Somebody guard that Cameron Rundles guy, and Junior Salters…and someone stop leaving Noah Dahlman alone too.

I know that Billy Cole and Bubba Chisholm are in fact white. I can see that with my own eyes, but I still don’t believe them. With names like that, I still think they are lying to me about being white.

For you that are new to TSB, you stopped by on a very historical day!!! Earlier in the day we shattered the monthly page views record!!! with 6 days left in the month. And we just broke the daily page views record….right about..NOW! with 3 hours left in the day nonetheless. THANK YOU TSB READERS! And NFL Mock Draft, and Jimmy Clausen as well. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Hey Mr. DJ all nihiiiight.. on and on and on. Richardson hits a big 3 to put Illinois up for the first time in game 33-32 with a 1:54 left in half.

Maybe DJ will go to the NBA some day, maybe I’ll win a Webby someday? It’s the holiday season, and it’s feast week, so anything can happen, right?

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Yes, I think that is Mary Tyler Moore.

Demtri’s defense is actually better this year. no, really I mean it.  Still no excuse that they got out-rebounded so badly in the 1st half, from such a smaller team. NO EXCUSE Illini up 49-42 16:19 left in game. Lisa Salters is indeed tearing up Illinois.

49-47 Illinois, 15:50 left.

rebounding deficit is 29-15 now…ouch! neother team handling the ball very well. game tied at 50. 14 min left

THAT MOVE BY MCCAMEY, BEHIND THE BACK, REVERSE LAY-IN WAS SICK!!!

Wait., I’ll give it an even more favorable adjective; D WILLESQUE! 58-50 Illinois 10 min left

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DJ for 3 again. 70-57, 4:30 left Illini starting to pull away now. I don’t think they’ll win this game by 20, but they might finish winning by 15.

No matter what the box score ends up saying, Illini had a much harder fought victory than it seems. This team hung around a lot longer than anyone thought they would. And Illini are shooting 57%, if they had an off shooting night, this would have been trouble.

I’ll see you guys later after the presser. with quotes and final thoughts.

A Glimpse Into The Illini Future: Quarterback Jacob Charest

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By Paul Schmidt

While the Illini were falling to the Northwestern Wildcats, essentially ending their long shot run at a bowl bid, Illini fans did get an extended look at next year’s early leader in the starting quarterback race, Jacob Charest, the redshirt freshman out of Butler High School in Matthews, North Carolina.

Charest posted some modest numbers but, after being benched to start the second half, led two fourth quarter touchdown drives to make things interesting in their 21-16 loss to the Wildcats.

Charest was a little surprised at how easily things came in the fourth quarter, but knew that practice, in this case, definitely helped.

“(The two minute offense) actually wasn’t…it wasn’t as different as I thought it would be,” Charest said. “You know, in practice, that’s such a huge part of the end of practice.  Everyone goes 100 percent on that, so it’s kind of like a game situation.”

The start of the game, however, was a little different for Charest who thought things definitely paced differently.

“It was a little different,”  Charest said. “If nothing else it was a little bit quicker. It wasn’t too bad.”

It did seem that Charest started the game in a little bit of a groove, and that could have been due to the scripting of the first several plays of the game — Charest knew what was coming.  However, he believed that it was just a few errant throws that took his momentum away.

“The first few plays of the game are scripted, but we don’t necessarily stick to them. But we try to script them, yes,” Charest said. “I was in a rhythm early, but then I don’t really know what happened. I missed a few throws, and things kind of went from there.”

As for being benched heading into the third quarter, he did know that was coming, as he was told at halftime, but the coaches also let him know that he would most likely see more action as the game went on, so to not get his head out of the game.  Charest wisely used that as a learning experience, and it certainly translated into results, as he went 9-13 Charestpassing in the fourth quarter.

“It helped a little bit, I could kind of see the coverage from a different point of view than actually being on the field,” Charest said.  “I could see what the DBs were doing on the field without having to deal with the pressure of the pass rush. It didn’t make a huge difference though.”

The giant elephant in the room was certainly Charest’s interpretation of the last play of the game on offense, and whether or not it was a reception for Jarred Fayson, or an interception for Sherrick McManus.

“Yeah, Jarrod caught it, and the other guy came up with it somehow, but I thought that Fayson caught it 100 percent, not that it was an interception,” Charest said. “We all really didn’t think that, because we were heading up to the line getting ready for the next play. It seems like nobody thought it was a pick except for the referee. Well, when we saw the call when we were all running over to the line, and we were just stunned.”

Still, it is a good sign for Illinois fans that Charest was exhibiting great confidence on the field, and with some young offensive skill players he could cement a solid offensive future. The best sign from Charest after the game? His response to the question of what he was thinking about heading on to the field prior to their Illini’s last drive of the game.

“I thought 100 percent we were going to go down and score when we got the ball back,” Charest said.

Illini Leading Scorer Demetri McCamey Exclusive

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By Paul M. Banks

When it comes to Illini junior point guard Demetri McCamey, perhaps his Coach Bruce Weber describes him best. “If you study him over the course of time, he has very good games and a tendency not to be real consistent, this goes back way to high school and AAU and that’s where he’s got to mature. He has the big one and then average, average. He needs to be more consistent if we’re going to be a very good team because he can do things that other people can’t do,” Weber said this season.

Last season McCamey was the Illini’s leading scorer and became the man the team went to when a last second game winning shot was needed. As evidenced by his buzzer beater at Northwestern, he started to become a clutch player. The third-team All-Big Ten selection led the Illini in scoring and was second on the team and fourth in the conference in assists, He also led the Big Ten in assists during conference play, and finished second to Kalin Lucas in the league in assist/turnover ratio.dwilliams_feature01

But his game still needs polish which I discussed with both him and Coach Weber extensively during the season. His shot selection is sometimes suspect: “When my little brother says it than I know everybody notices, my little brother told me I was settling for too many threes, so I got to get back to attacking the paint like I used to,” McCamey said.

His work ethic needs improvement and his defense can often be non-existent. However, he’s also the Illini player with the most athleticism and star potential. On a team that will be ranked in everyone’s top 25 next season, that’s quite a compliment. “He’s got to learn the game: how to use screens, how to play without the ball, and if he could do that he could be the guy. He passes well, shoots the three, he’s got a big body and can pull-up,” Weber said.

McCamey is often criticized, by Coach Weber and Big Ten announcers alike, for his work ethic, but Demetri says he’s dedicated to edifying and bettering himself…

“A student of the game, that’s the only way you’ll get better. It’s all about making the right decision and every possession is worth something. Coach McClain and I watch film, I like to come in and watch film. If I’m at home, my roommate Alex {Legion} and I- that’s all we do is watch college and NBA basketball.”

watch the video below to get to know him better. He mentions former Illini Deron Williams as his favorite player to look up to.


And for excelling in the role of true point guard/go-to guy-“It’s not just scoring for me, especially on the defensive end and becoming a leader, being more vocal- don’t yell at guys, pick your spots and be a true leader.” Demetri is often candid about how he has to improve his defense, but I asked him what else he needs to improve?

“Standing up a lot and watching instead of attacking, sometimes I rely on my teammates too much when I can just push the ball and make plays happen instead of just trying to wait for them to happen. It’s being aggressive all the time and take every play like it’s your last and make the right decision,” he responded.

Current Bull and NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose is a friend of McCamey’s and someone that he’s talked about modeling his game on.

“He’s a wonderful player. I played against him all the way since 7th grade, he knows me, I know him and I know I’ll be in the same boat and playing with passion if I just listen to everybody, because they’re only trying to help…No matter how young you are, you can be a real good player. We used to be enemies on the court, now I’m a fan, maybe one day I’ll get to where he’s at.”

If Demetri matures into a consistent player, the Illini could make a deep tournament run in March and Derrick Rose could possibly see another Windy City friend in the NBA in 2011.

More Illini exclusives, click name for video interviews:

Mike Davis

Mike Tisdale

D.J. Richardson

Brandon Paul

Alex Legion and Dominique Keller

Illini Ink Top 10 Recruiting Class

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By Paul M. Banks

In case you missed it, today was “National Signing Day” for basketball. I totally understand if it’s not on our your radar, because it’s the day that we “officially” learn what we’ve already known for months, and sometimes years. We pretty much know where all the top recruits are going, but this is the day it becomes a contract. It just puts the notoriously gray area that is the world of recruiting into black and white, with some concrete headlines. And with the University of Illinois’ incoming class, those headlines are very happy ones.

Today’s group, the class of 2014 officially silences the critics who said Bruce Weber can’t recruit. It further validates the exceptional contributions that Assistant Jerrance Howard brings to the recruiting table. It’s matter of redemption from the whole Eric “Basketball Judas” Gordon saga. Without further ado, I turns things over to SID Derrick Burson and company, here’s the official press release.Illinois
Richmond, Head and Leonard Officially Join Fighting Illini

Champaign, Ill.-Illinois head coach Bruce Weber announced today the signing of three student-athletes to national letters of intent in Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head and Meyers Leonard. The Recruiting Services Consensus Index lists all three players in the Top 75, giving the Fighting Illini the No. 4 class in the nation by ESPNU, No. 6 nationally by Scout.com and No. 10 nationally by Rivals.com.

“We are thrilled to officially welcome Jereme, Crandall and Meyers to the Fighting Illini family,” Weber said. “They are three outstanding young men who have been committed to us for a long time. They are all tremendously talented players, extremely athletic, with the ability to play a mixture of positions. We are pleased to bring in three in-state products who are the top three seniors in the state of Illinois.”

Richmond, a 6-8 wing from Waukegan, Ill., famously made a verbal commitment to the Illini program three years ago before ever playing a high school game. He is a consensus top-25 recruit who was named Chicago Sun-Times and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette Player of the Year last season after leading Waukegan to a record of 26-5 and runner-up finish at the IHSA Class 4A State Tournament. Richmond averaged 20.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 blocks as a junior, and kept Waukegan on its path to Peoria by hitting a half court shot at the buzzer in a sectional final victory over Warren Township High School and future UI teammate, Brandon Paul. Richmond’s coach at Waukegan is Ron Ashlaw. He is a member of the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program, coached by Mike Irvin.

Head, a 6-4 guard from Matteson, Ill., attends Rich South High School, coached by Scot Ritter. He is the younger brother of former Illini All-American guard Luther Head, currently a member of the Indiana Pacers. Head is a consensus top-75 recruit who earned first-team All-State honors for Class 3A by the Associated Press after averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and four steals last season at Chicago Crane High School, under the direction of coach Tim Anderson. Head recently underwent knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and is sidelined indefinitely. Head also is a member of the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program.

Leonard is a 7-0 center at Robinson High School. He is a consensus top-50 recruit who averaged 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as a junior. Leonard won the IHSA Class 2A dunk contest and was an All-Apollo Conference selection, leading Robinson to a 21-8 record, conference title and IHSA Class 2A sectional appearance. His coach at Robinson is Bob Coffman. Like Richmond and Head, Leonard also is a member of the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program.
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JEREME RICHMOND
Wing
6-8, 195
Hometown: Waukegan, Ill.
High School/Coach: Waukegan/Ron Ashlaw
AAU Program/Coach: Mac Irvin Fire/Mike Irvin
Rising Stars/Brian Davis

Notes: Consensus national top-25 recruit (No. 18 on rscihoops.com) … Averaged 20.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.3 blocks as a junior … Led Waukegan to state runner-up finish in IHSA Class 4A … Ranked No. 16 nationally by Scout, No. 17 by both ESPNU and Hoopmasters, No. 18 by All Star Report, No. 21 by Prep Stars and No. 36 by Rivals … Chicago Sun-Times and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette Player of the Year in 2009 … Consensus first-team All-State selection by the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association in 2009.

Weber on Richmond: “Jereme is extremely talented and so versatile that he can play practically any position on the floor. He’s a team-first player who makes everyone around him better and that was evident in the way he led Waukegan all the way to the state title game last year. Jereme has tremendous feel and knowledge for the game, and his best attribute of all might be his passing. He has excellent court vision. We’ve obviously been close to Jereme and the Richmond family for a number of years. We appreciate their loyalty and the commitment they’ve made to our program and university. I know Coach Ashlaw has been impressed with the growth and improvement Jereme has made, and they have big goals for his senior season.”
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CRANDALL HEAD
Guard
6-4, 180
Hometown: Matteson, Ill.
High School/Coach: Rich South/Scot Ritter
AAU Program/Coach: Mac Irvin Fire/Mike Irvin

Notes: Consensus national top-75 recruit (No. 59 on rscihoops.com) … Averaged 21 points, seven rebounds and four steals as a junior … Ranked No. 42 nationally by All Star Report, No. 53 by Hoopmasters, No. 59 by both Scout and Prep Stars and No. 73 by ESPNU … First-team All-State selection by the Associated Press and Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette in 2009 … Second-team All-State by the Chicago Sun-Times … Special mention All-State by the Chicago Tribune … Fourth-team All-State by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.

Weber on Head: “Crandall has been around us since he was in middle school, watching the success of his brother and our program during the Final Four run in 2005. So we’ve had a great relationship with him and his family through the years and are happy that Crandall also will be wearing that No. 4 Illini jersey. He has a lot of physical attributes that are similar to Luther, as he is extremely athletic and versatile with great jumping ability and is able to get to the basket. He has some rehab work ahead of him and needs to take his time and get fully healed. Sitting out will be a challenge because Crandall loves to play. ”

MEYERS LEONARD
Center
7-0, 215
Hometown: Robinson, Ill.
High School/Coach: Robinson/Bob Coffman
AAU Program/Coach: Mac Irvin Fire/Mike Irvin
Team Ramey/Terrell Ramey

Notes: Consensus national top-50 recruit (No. 36 on rscihoops.com) …  Averaged 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as a junior … Ranked No. 39 nationally by both Rivals and Scout, No. 44 by All Star Report, No. 47 by Hoopmasters, No. 51 by Prep Stars and No. 52 by ESPNU … Special mention All-State by the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association in 2009.

Weber on Leonard: “I rarely have seen athleticism and mobility from a 7-footer like Meyers has. The progress he’s made over the last two years has been impressive. He reminds our staff of James Augustine with that same ability to run the floor as a big man. He began his high school career as a guard but had an incredible growth spurt and then transitioned to center. I’ve known Coach Coffman for a long time. He does a great job and feels that Meyers has the ability to help Robinson contend for a state title this season.”

Video Illini F Mike Davis exclusive

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Interview by Paul M. Banks and Paul Schmidt, write-up by Banks

Illini Junior Mike Davis used his baseline jumper, mid-range game and rebounding abilities to have a breakthrough season last year. In this video interview below, he discusses the upcoming season, various aspects of his game and much more.

Here are some of Davis’ highlights from 08-09

-Second-team All-Big Ten selection by coaches, Third-team by media
-Big Ten All-Tournament Team
-Started all 34 games on the season, averaging 30.7 minutes
-Second on Illini in scoring, second in the Big Ten in rebounding with an average of 8.1
-Led conference with nine double-doubles, also led league with 11 double-digit rebounding performances
-Third in Big Ten in field goal shooting
-Scored career-high 28 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge
-Grabbed a career-high 16 boards vs. Purdue, most rebounds by a Big Ten player in conference play
-In off-season was selected to attend the 2009 USA?Basketball World University Games team trials, but withdrew due to broken left ankle.

More Illini exclusives, click name for video interviews:

Mike Tisdale

D.J. Richardson

Brandon Paul

Alex Legion and Dominique Keller