Two Steps Forward.......Three Steps Back.

Two Steps Forward.......Three Steps Back.
The rebuild of the Illinois football program continues as they drop a tough 34-31 loss in overtime to Purdue.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Summer: all is quiet on campus

Welcome one and all to my blog here on! As the students have gone home for the summer and the sports seasons have come to a close, it is time to reflect on the season that has been at the University of Illinois and Fighting Illini Nation. The baseball team saw their season come to an abrupt end in the Big Ten Tournament up in Ann Arbor, as the Illini were eliminated after the third game in as many days. The tourney started out great for the Illini, as they defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 12-3 behind a complete game by sophomore Tanner Roark. The Illini got off on the right foot, scoring a pair of runs in each of the first 2 innings, more than enough for Roark. However, the Illini couldn't sustain the momentum throughout the rest of the tourney, as they fell to Minnesota 10-3 the next day, as the Illini fell behind 5-0 in the first inning, and never could catch the Gophers. Brandon Wikoff and Mike Rohde each had a pair of hits for the Illini, who faced elimination against Penn State in the third day of the tourney. In the game against the Nittany Lions, starting hurler Scott Shaw sparkled for seven innings, before surrendering 5 runs, which proved to be the difference in the 6-2 defeat, thus forcing the Illini out of the tourney. The Illini concluded their season at 31-27, but more importantly, giving the Illini their second 30 win season in three years and the furthest they have advanced in the Big Ten Tourney since 2001. Better things hopefully lie on the horizon for the Illini for 2008. Catcher Lars Davis was named to the Louisville Slugger TPX Collegiate Baseball All-American team as a second team selection, the highest an Illini has finished since 2000. Davis, who hails from Canada, was also the first Illini baseball player to hit .400 in a season since 1996.

Illini basketball player Jamar Smith is in the middle of his two-week jail sentence for events surrounding the accident back in February that critically injured teammate Brian Carlwell. Smith, who was drinking at the time, left the scene of the accident with Carlwell still in the vehicle, and was later found to have been doing other extra-curricular activities the evening of the wreck as well. Many have differing views on what Smith's verdict should be. Should Bruce Weber reinstate Jamar to the team, or should he make him an example and not welcome him back? Certainly events of the past few weeks may point at Smith not wanting to come back, especially since former Illini assistant Rob Judson being named an assistant coach at Illinois State in Normal, which is closer to Smith's hometown of Peoria. What do you think should happen? Please leave your comments for me because I want to know what Illini Nation thinks of this situation.

Ron Zook may be a great football recruiter, but singer he is not. Witness the seventh inning stretch on Saturday at Wrigley Field, where Zook was shown reading from notes during his performance. Given that the Cubbies are not putting a great product on the field right now, then to see celebrities perform equally as bad during "The Stretch", leads me to believe that this tradition has worn out its welcome. Sure, it was fun for the first couple of years after Harry Caray died, but now the same people are doing it year in and year out, and even Ron Santo and Pat Hughes are scheduled for multiple times this season. It seems that whoever does it nowadays is either promoting a movie or CD, or in Zook's case, an athletic program at the state's most prestigious university. Coach Zook, stick to coaching and recruiting and be an ambassador to the University of Illinois in better ways than this. Again, I welcome your comments on this situation, so tell me what you think!

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