Bump, set, SPIKE! We lead with volleyball:
The team read a business book together last summer titled “Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Luhrsen said, then talked about it and applied what they could to volleyball.
“We used a lot of aspects of the book to help our team grow in preseason,” she said. “I think that was kind of unique and fun.”
Kevin Hambly using a little bit of Phil Jackson’s motivational methods here? Great story and really great to see the Fighting Illini spikers getting some national press.
Big Ten Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Midseason Surprise – Illinois
The Fighting Illini is coming off a disappointing loss to Ohio State, but are still 6-1 heading into Saturday’s game against Purdue. The offense has struggled to replace Mikel Leshoure’s production at running back, but quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has picked up the slack and ranks fifth in the Big Ten in total offense per game. A.J. Jenkins has been one of the best receivers in the nation this year, averaging 127.9 yards per game. The defense was a concern coming into 2011, as the Illini had to replace tackle Corey Liuget. However, end Whitney Mercilus has emerged as one of the top defensive ends in the nation, while tackle Akeem Spence has been solid. A favorable schedule certainly helped Illinois jump out to a 6-1 record, but don’t count out this team from pulling off a surprise win or two before the season is over.
Athlon Sports: Home of the many-covered preseason previews that we all purchased before the advent of the internet. Anyone who doesn’t pick us as the midseason surprise isn’t paying attention. They do have us going 8-4 on the season, which is a pretty dim view. Presumably this means wins over Purdue and Minnesota, and the rest losses. I personally think we can beat both Michigan and PSU and will probably take one of those two. 9-3? Not too shabby.
I’ll be honest, when Illinois hired Ron Zook as head coach in 2005, if nothing else I was excited about the prospects of dynamic special teams play. After all, Zook had been the special teams coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers for three seasons. He’s been special teams coach for the University of Florida. Surely he knew how to give Illinois an edge when it was time for someone to kick the football.
And yet in Zook’s six-plus years, Illinois has never been regarded as special when it comes to special teams. There have been some nice individual seasons, as punter Anthony Santella enjoyed last season and as place kicker Derek Dimke has enjoyed the past two years.
But for the most part, Illinois is ordinary at best and often less when it comes time to punt, kickoff or be a little creative on special teams
Tupper is being a little generous here. Our special teams are putrid.
Former Illini hoops coach makes movie cameo
Grentz reportedly was asked to play a referee or coach in the movie. She refused and ask to be cast as a nun.
Probably so that she could whack people on the knuckles with a ruler. If you were to ask me the least likely former Illini coach to make a cameo in a film, I would have said Tepper. But Grentz wouldn’t have been far behind.
How we learned of U. of I. sports’ odd tuition waivers
To put the waivers in context, we polled Big Ten schools through interviews and records requests to see whether they employed something similar. Athletic departments at larger universities today tend to be self-supporting or close to it. Of the 10 we reached, only the University of Wisconsin-Madison said it received waivers from the school’s general funds
Of course, a non-zero number of Big Ten schools’ athletic programs receive other types of University support, but finding that out would have required, uh, research. This is really a non-story; among Big 10 schools, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all receive some form of institutional supports. This is just from a cursory search of the USA Today database. There’s a nebulous column in the “sources” area that probably includes some other forms of funding which could be construed as being from tax dollars, I’m sure.