Basketball Teams Unveiled in Outdoor Practice

The Fighting Illini basketball team took advantage of a sellout Homecoming crowd by taking part in a brief open-air practice on the field at Memorial Stadium after the football game. It was a unique reminder that basketball season is just around the corner.

Many in the crowd were too dejected from the Illinois football team's loss to Minnesota to stay for the show, but a good time was had by those who remained. Coach Bruce Weber knew the practice provided players, prospective recruits and fans a unique experience.

"This was a neat court. Once they got going up and down, I think there was some competitive juices. With all late night or midnight practices, it's more dunks and hoopla for the fans and the kids more than anything. I think they enjoyed it. A great memory for them."

Jolette Law's women's team joined the men for a three point contest, and the men then scrimmaged briefly. The weather cooperated fully. The warm sun helped the players work up a sweat, and the light winds didn't affect shooting noticeably.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to this event was the chance to bring in a large number of talented basketball recruits for visits. Seniors D. J. Richardson and Brandon Paul were on their official visits and are expected to sign scholarship tenders with the Illini in November. So is fellow senior commitment Joseph Bertrand, who was there as well.

In addition, underclassmen approaching 20 in number watched the action from court level. Illini junior commitments Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head and Meyers Leonard were all there. An outstanding group of sophomores also viewed the action. Among them were Mike Shaw, Wayne Blackshear, Tracy Abrams, Bradley Beal, Chasson Randle and Hayden Hoerdemann.

Illini basketball media day is next Tuesday, and the first official practice is scheduled for Friday. As Coach Weber noted, the basketball season will soon be upon us.

"We're excited. We have a couple days of conditioning left. Then I'll give them a couple days off, then media day, and boom we're at it. It comes much quicker this year because of where the 15th ended up. We don't get those couple extra days.

"The 17th is the first day, and we have to give them a day off. So we have 7 practices and we have the Orange and Blue scrimmage before people. And then I think it's gonna be 15 practices before we have the exhibition game on November 2nd. It's gonna be on us very quickly. Our guys are gonna have to be ready to go."

A unique portable basketball court was laid at the South end of Memorial Stadium, and it will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Starting bid is a cool $12,500, for those wishing to add it to their back yards.

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