The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois on March 8, 2008 · Page 310
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The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois · Page 310

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Arlington Heights, Illinois
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Saturday, March 8, 2008
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Page 310
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SATURDAY, MARCH 8, 2008 DAILY HERALD SECTION 2 PABE 3 Illini seniors shooting to go out winners BY LlNDSEV WlLLHITE htritthitf@dajfyhefald.aM In newspaper parlance, it would take a special section to detail all of Bfian Handle's injuries, surgeries and maladies during his five years at Illinois. Basically, If a body part has a name, then it has been in pain for the senior forward from East Peoria. Up until this season, though, it barely required a paragraph to list the number of losses Randle endured at Assembly Hall. In the senior forward's first four years at Illinois, he experienced just 5 home losses in 61 games. But in his final season, Randle and his teammates have scuffled to a 6-8 home record. Randle, as well as fellow seniors Shaun Pruitt and Chris Hicks, are hoping they can put the injuries and the inconsistent showings behind for just one day — on Senior College notes Day today against Minnesota. "It's tough, but I think it just gives us motivation," Randle said. "Between the three of us and the rest of the guys, you shouldn't want anything else but to win your last game — and win convincingly. "It'll be hard, but I think it'll give everybody a boost and a lot of emotion." Randle, who dislocated his shoulder just 17 days ago, thinks he'll be able to start. He played 10 minutes Thursday against Michigan State. Wlsky history: if Wisconsin wins at Northwestern today, it claims the school's second outright Big Ten title since 1947. The Badgers also would capture the No. 1 seed at next week's Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. That would also make it easier for a third Illinois-Indiana contest to occur. If Wisconsin wins and Indi- ana has the same result as Purdue this weekend, then the Hoosiers would earn the No. 2 seed. They would await the winner of No. 10 seed Illinois' first-round game with either Perm State or Iowa. Blue Demons blues: Despite winning at Cincinnati on Thursday night, DePaul finds its Big East tournament door more closed than before. In fact, the Blue Demons could be eliminated from the chase for the 12th and final tournament spot before they take the floor for Sunday's regular-season finale at Pittsburgh. They'll learn their fate by watching Villanova (18-11, 89) play at Providence (15-14, 6-11) and West Virginia play at St. John's (H-18,5-12). DePaul (11-18, 6-11) and Providence are the only teams that can take the 12th spot. If the Friars build off their upset of No. 13 Connecticut and beat Villanova, then they clinch the bid because they ASSOCIATED PRESS After five seasons at Illinois, forward Brian Randle plays his home finale today. topped DePaul 79-65 on Feb. 5 in their lone meeting. But if Providence loses, then DePaul has two chances to advance: DePaul can upset Pittsburgh (21-9, 9-8) to gain the bid outright. Or, if DePaul loses and St. John's shocks West Virginia to forge a three-way tie, the Blue Demons have the tiebreaker in their favor. Wisconsin (25-4,15*2) at NoiUiimtaii (§-», Ml) When: 2 p.m. at Welsh-Ryan Arena TV: Big Ten Network Radfo: W6N 720-AM The skinny: Since the Badgers dinch their second outrtflht By ten title in the last 61 years with a win, expect a lactose-tolMrrt crovrt in Evanston. But this won't necessarily be a coronation. Norffrwestem trailed Wisconsin by just 2 points at the break when the teams met at the Kohl Center on Jan. 19, but the Badgers Wew it open early in the second half and finished wffli a 62-50 win. The Wildcats win honor three players prior to the game. Senior guard Jafion Okrzesik, an Itasca resident, will be joined by senior walk-on fohjua Jones as well as junior forward Jean-Marc Melchlor. The Luxembourg native Melchoir finished his degree in three years and has opted to move on. Mis departure will give the Wildcats one more scholarship to offer for next season. Minnesota (18-11,8-9) at Illinois (12-18,4-13) When: Noon at Assembly Hall TV: Big Ten Network Radio: WIND 560-AM The skinny: The Illini unleashed their best effort of the season whet) they pounded the Gophers 84-60 in Minnesota on Feb. 12. Not only did it represent the Gophers' most lopsided loss of the year, It raft Illinois' winning streak against Minnesota to 18. Since both teams have locked in their Big Ten tournament seeds (Minnesota No. 6, Illinois No. 10), there's nothing to play for except pride. Illinois hasn't lost a Senior Day game since 1999, and this gives Shaun Pruitt, Brian Randle and Chris Hicks a chance to leave with a good memory. Pruitt needs 2 points to become the 41 st Illini to reach the 1,000- P° intmark - — LindseyWillhrte Bears: Continued from Rige 1 an extremely athletic player with great leaping ability, capable of making spectacular catches, although he has only average speed. "I think the best thing that I can do for myself is just come in and work, and that's not anything that I haven't done," Lloyd said. "I'm not going to sit here and say that it's all my fault I'm not going to say that it's all somebody else's fault. The circumstances just weren't right "I'm just going to continue to try to find my fit and try to find my path in this league because I feel I have the talent to play." Lloyd was a two-time 1,000- yard receiver for the Illini and a track standout in the high jump, long jump and 60-meter hurdles. And Turner recalls a lot of positives from his recruitment of Lloyd as a high school player and the three years they spent together at Illinois. "I think Brandon's a play- maker," Turner said. "I've known him since he was 17 years (old). He was very productive (at Illinois), so I've got a good feel for what he can do. (Receivers coach) Darryl Drake and I went back and looked at all his film from the last couple years and feel he can still play and that hopefully he can come in and be a good fit with the receivers that we have here right now. We're looking forward to that competition." Lloyd joins a group that includes recently signed nine- year veteran Marty Booker and talented but inexperienced Devin Hester and Mark Bradley Rashied Davis, who caught 17 passes as a part-time slot receiver last season, is a restricted free agent who has drawn interest from several other teams and could be leaving soon. Since he receiver the lowest tender offer ($927,000) from the Bears and was not drafted, the Bears will receive no compensation for his loss. Lights out on Slaughter in end BY MATT BEARDMORE Daily Herald Correspondent This took "Friday night lights" to a whole new meaning. With Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" pumping through the sound system, highlights from the Chicago Slaughter's inaugural season lit up the Scoreboard to the delight of the opening- night crowd at the Sears Centre. One by one, led by wide receiver Robert Height and his round-off and back flip, the 2008 Slaughter ran onto the field for spotlight introductions. And when the game started, the show continued as Slaughter quarterback Ronnie Gordon and wide receiver Dontrell Jackson lit up the Scoreboard with 2 touchdowns in the first quarter and another in the third as the Slaughter held a seemingly insurmountable at 33-14 lead. But then the lights went out as Kalamazoo scored 22 fourth-quarter points and Xplosion quarterback Randy Hutchinson threw his fifth touchdown — a 19-yarder to Brian Dolph — and Dominick Brown recovered a Slaughter fumble in overtime in a 46-39 Kalamazoo victory. Xplosion 46, Slaughter 39 (OT) "We had a really good first half... we've just got to keep the pace up at that point," said Gordon, who completed 11 of 15 for 102 yards as the Slaughter led 27-7athalftime. After the 34-yarder to Jackson (8 receptions for 114 yards) in the third quarter, Brad Selent nailed a 41-yard field goal as Kalamazoo got within 33-17 with 33 seconds left in the quarter. But Gordon was intercepted on the ensuing possession, and Hutchinson drove the Xplosion to within 33-23 as he found Dan Musielewicz in the back of the end zone with an 11-yard scoring strike. "We came into that second half just looking to chip away," said Hutchinson, who completed 11 of 17 in the second half after going 3 of 9 in the opening 30 minutes. "We were forgetting about the score — just go out and try to be the offense we know we can be." The Slaughter was called for a roughing-the-kicker penalty with 3:17 remaining, and Hutchinson found L.J. Parker on a 7-yard score as Kalamazoo "Tonight was one of those games where the second half we just weren't emotionally into the game." Keith Hac, Slaughter defensive coordinator inched within 33-29. The extra point was hobbled, but Hutchinson found lineman Andy Storey for the 2-point conversion with one minute left. The Slaughter grabbed the onside kick attempt, and J.R. Taylor (36 yards on 12 carries) scored his third touchdown. But a missed extra point left breathing room for Hutchinson, who hit Dolph for a touchdown with 11 seconds left. Eric Gardner took the snap on the conversion, and while being brought to the turf, handed it off to Parker to tie it at 39-39. "Tonight was one of those games where the second half we just weren't emotionally into the game," said Slaughter defensive coordinator Keith Hac. You owe '* *° yourself to visit... 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