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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back To Basics

Now that the Fighting Illini's bye week has come and gone, it is once again time to begin focusing on the stretch run, what has now become a 3 game season, and quite possibly, could determine the fate of Ron Zook. After getting off to a 6-0 start to begin the season, the Illini have fallen back to reality, losing their last 3 games and come off their bye week at 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten. At Zook's weekly press conference on Tuesday, he talked about the team needing the break. Given the circumstances, this game is a very winnable one, and could go a long way in determining how successful the Illini will be in 2011. The team had such high hopes once they got out to that 6-0 start, but have fallen on some hard times as of late. The Illini will welcome Michigan to Memorial Stadium this Saturday (2:30 pm CT, ABC), and the Wolverines will be coming into Champaign reeling themselves, losing at Iowa 24-16 last Saturday. If you remember how the Illinois-Michigan game went last year, there were a record number of points scored, as the Wolverines defeated the Illini in a basketball score 67-65. Zook doesn't think that there will be nearly that many points scored this year, but feels that it will still be a close game nonetheless. For the Illini, win this game and you might be able to salvage your season. Lose, and it could spiral things downward even further. It's just that simple.

Bruce Weber's Fighting Illini basketball team finished the exhibition portion of their season on Monday night, with a 79-45 win over Quincy University at the Assembly Hall. Junior D. J. Richardson paved the way by scoring 17 points, including 4-6 from beyond the arc. The win over Quincy was a chance for Weber to see some different lineup combinations and get some last minute tweaks done before the season opener on Friday night against Loyola-Chicago (8:00 pm, CT). The game against the Ramblers will not be televised, but will be available on the internet at On Wednesday, Weber announced that he has signed one player for the 2012-13 season, a very small class compared to the one that came on this season. The player, Michael Orris, is a point guard, and will back up freshman Tracy Abrams, and could possibly even see the court with Abrams. Orris had originally committed to Creighton, but had second thoughts about his decision and since the Illini had shown interest from the beginning, the family switched and Illinois was the destination.

Jolette Law's Illini women's team won their first and only exhibition game of the season, a 79-52 victory over Maryville on Tuesday night at the Assembly Hall. The Illini were led in scoring by freshman Ivory Crawford with 14 points, while Lydia McCully and Karisma Penn each tallied 13. The Illini will open their season on Friday afternoon at the Assembly Hall when they welcome the Gamecocks of South Carolina (3:30 pm CT). Law announced two signees to the program on Wednesday, Mckenzie Piper, a 6'0 guard from Iowa City, Iowa and 6'3 forward Nia Moore from Bolingbrook, the same high school that freshman Taylor Tuck went to.

The Fighting Illini women's volleyball team got back on the winning track last Saturday evening in Bloomington, Indiana, as they defeated the Hoosiers in 4 sets. Illinois is 22-3 overall and 11-3 in the Big Ten, and will come back to Huff Hall to host a couple of matches this weekend. The #5 Illini will host perennial conference foe Penn State on Friday night, then will welcome Ohio State on Saturday evening. Coach Kevin Hambly announced the signing of two players for the 2012-13 season on Wednesday, those players being Maddie Mayers of Ft. Wayne, Indiana and Alexis Viliunas of LaGrange, Illinois. Viliunas, who has a brother Eddie that is a tight end on the Illini football team, is a setter that should fit into the mold of the team very well.

The Fighting Illini women's soccer team completed the Big Ten Tournament in style, winning the tourney and getting the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as a result. The Illini defeated Ohio State in double overtime on penalty kicks, then knocked off Michigan State 1-0 in the semifinals before beating Penn State 2-1 to capture the championship. Both the semifinal match and the championship game went into overtime as well, adding to the suspense and excitement. As a result of their success, the Illini will host a first round game at the Illini Soccer Complex on Sunday at 1:00 pm CT against Notre Dame. The Illini come into the NCAA Tournament at 16-4-2 overall and finished the Big Ten season at 8-2-1.

Finally, with all of the news that has been breaking in Happy Valley concerning the scandal over the past few days, I would be remiss if I didn't give my views on the situation. The ordeal surrounds the Penn State football program and a former assistant coach who did some horrific things. As a result of all of this, legendary coach of the Nittany Lions Joe Paterno has announced that he will be retiring at season's end, but with everything that is coming out regarding this situation, it appears that he should step down immediately. As one who has talked to Paterno over the past few years, I admit that I have had some admiration for the man who has coached in State College for the past 46 years as the head man. Details are still coming out about the scandal, and the more that is revealed, the less that admiration becomes. It appears that Paterno knew what was going on, but never followed up on his reporting of it. We still don't know who knew what, how many people were involved, or what this will do to the legacy of the long-time coach. What I do know is that this scandal overshadows the tattoo-gate in Columbus, and far surpasses the booster scandal in Miami. I don't know what else I can say about it at this point. Much more will be coming out in the days and weeks to come, but we may never get to the actual bottom of it, or what it will eventually do to the school and its administration.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice blog as always! The Penn St. saga is just sickening. I think JoePa knew more and should step down immediately. It's scary to think how many children have been affected and how long this was allowed to go on. So many people failed in a big way and so many children's lives are ruined.