Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 15, 2011

Zook Ends Press Conference Over Job-Related Questions

Illinois coach Ron Zook isn't interested in talking about job security.

Zook told reporters Tuesday that he would end his weekly news conference if anyone asked about his job following four straight losses and a weekend of off-field trouble for his players.

He kept his promise, walking out after he was asked if had talked to his players about handling questions about his future.

The seventh-year Illini coach started the season with six wins, but has now watched his team lose four in a row.

Over the weekend, starting linebacker Trulon Henry was shot in the hand at a party where two other people were shot. In another incident, two other reserve players were arrested following a fight on campus. Zook suspended them.

Categories: Education, Sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 14, 2011

Cardinals Hire Mike Matheny As Manager

The St. Louis Cardinals have hired Mike Matheny to a two-year contract as their new manager, with a club option for a third season.

The World Series champs say they are not worried that Matheny has never filled out a lineup card for a major league game.

"Many people may question this hire for his lack of experience," general manager John Mozeliak said at a news conference Monday to introduce Matheny. "All arrows pointed to Mike. In the end, the decision became very clear."

Matheny replaces Tony La Russa, who abruptly retired after the Cardinals won the World Series last month. Mozeliak said the four-time Gold Glove catcher stood out from a group of candidates that began with about 35 names and a final list of six that included Terry Francona, Ryan Sandberg and longtime Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo.

The 41-year-old Matheny donned a No. 22 Cardinals jersey at his inaugural news conference in the same room where La Russa stepped down two weeks earlier. He called it "the greatest honor of my life."

"I would say to the Cardinal fans, I can't tell you how excited I am about this opportunity," Matheny said. "I know there's a high level of expectation. If I didn't think I could do it, I certainly wouldn't have walked into the interview process."

The Cardinals expect to finalize the coaching staff by the end of the week. Mozeliak said pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is signed for next season, should be back, and Oquendo also could return.

Mozeliak said the team envisioned Matheny as managerial material when they added him to the organization two years ago. Matheny was a special assistant in player development last year and prior to that had been a minor league instructor.

Mozeliak said he was in contact with La Russa during the interview process.

"I don't know if the word consulting is right," Mozeliak said. "He was someone I kept abreast of the process. I always welcome his opinion."

Matheny is the Cardinals' youngest manager since Jack Krol, also 41, in 1978.

Matheny's playing career blossomed after he signed a one-year free-agent deal to be the backup catcher in St. Louis. Though a career .239 hitter, Matheny did enough defensively to earn a starting job. Matheny was with the Giants when his career was ended by concussions in 2006. He said he's been symptom free for about 1 1/2 years.

Francona was the only candidate who had major league managing experience. He left the Red Sox after the team collapsed in September. Oquendo coached for La Russa the last dozen years after playing the final decade of his career with the Cardinals and has had a handful of interviews for managing openings.

The Cardinals also interviewed Triple-A manager Chris Maloney and Chicago White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 13, 2011

Cardinals to Name Former Catcher Matheny New Manager

A longshot with no previous managerial experience has won the managerial post of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.

The St. Louis Cardinals said they will announce the hiring of Mike Matheny as manager during a news conference Monday.

Matheny, a former St. Louis catcher, will replace the retired Tony La Russa, who stepped down after leading the team to the World Series title.

The 41-year-old Matheny was a minor league instructor with the Cardinals and has no managing experience. He played for St. Louis from 2000-04 and won three Gold Gloves. He won another with San Francisco.

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 13, 2011

Three Injured in Urbana Shooting Include U of I Football Player

(With additional reporting from the Associated Press)

Urbana police are investigating a shooting early Sunday morning near the University of Illinois campus. Police say three people were injured, including a linebacker with the U of I football team.

The incident happened at 1004 South Lincoln Ave in Urbana at around 3:25am. The three victims include 27-year old Trulon Henry of Savoy, a two-year starter with Illinois. Illinois Coach Ron Zook says Henry was with teammates at the party when he was shot in the hand, and now will miss the rest of the regular season.

The other victims are a 23-year old Park Forest man, and a 22-year old Palos Park man. They were all transported to Carle Hospital for medical treatment, and one has been treated and released. The other two men were receiving treatment, as of Sunday afternoon, and their current condition is unknown. Police say the gunman is still being sought. Zook says a handful of Illinois players, largely underclassmen, were at the party but were not injured.

At this time, Urbana Police have determined that the shooting was an isolated incident that occurred during a house party. An altercation developed between attendees, and the suspect fired several shots into the crowd gathered on a patio, which was estimated at more than 100 people. Zook says Henry wasn't originally at the party, but was called by a teammate to help encourage players to leave after the gathering turned chaotic.

Through preliminary investigations, Urbana Lt. Bryant Seraphin tells the News-Gazette that the shooter is believed to be a black male in his 20s with dreadlocks. He was also wearing a dark colored coat and was last seen in or around a silver Dodge Charger. Upon arrival, officers learned that the suspect had fired several rounds from a handgun. The offender had fled before police arrived at the scene.

U of I President Michael Hogan released a statement late Sunday afternoon, stating that according to U of I police, there was never a threat to students elsewhere on campus, but as soon as the police were able to confer with Urbana officers and confirm the appropriate information to be released, they sent out an Illini-Alert to campus (it was sent at 4:42 a.m.)

Anyone with information should call the Urbana Police Department at 217-384-2320. Callers can remain anonymous by contacting Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 373-8477 (TIPS). President Hogan says counselors are on hand to assist students, faculty, and staff. Anyone needing immediate assistance can call the Emergency Dean at 217-333-0050.

Henry is a native of Washington, D.C., and was a starting outside linebacker this season after starting all 13 games as a safety with Illinois in 2010. He's ninth on the team with 39 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions.

((This report was updated and revised Sunday, following its original release earlier in the day)).


AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 07, 2011

McGrory of Champaign Sets Wheelchair Course Record in NYC

Amanda McGrory of the United States set a course record in the women's wheelchair race and Masazumi Soejima of Japan won the men's race at the New York City Marathon.

The 25-year-old McGrory of Champaign, Ill., finished the 26.2-mile course through the five boroughs of New York in 1 hour, 50 minutes, 24 seconds.

McGrory, a four-time Paralympic medalist, also won the Paris and London Marathons one week apart this year. She was followed by Shelly Woods of Britain (1:52:52) and Tatyana McFadden of the United States (1:52:52).

The previous women's course record was set by Edith Hunkeler of Switzerland in 1:52:38 in 2007.

In the men's wheelchair competition, the 41-year-old Soejima finished in 1:31:41, followed by Kurt Fearnley of Australia (1:33:56) and Kota Hokinoue of Japan (1:34:22).

In the main NYC Marathon competition, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya won with a course record time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 6 seconds (unofficial), crushing the previous mark of 2:07:43 set by Tesfaye Jifar of Ethiopia a decade earlier.

In the women's competition, Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia won in a stunning comeback. Dado trailed London Marathon champ Mary Keitany by nearly 21/2 minutes at the 15-mile mark but passed her with about a mile left for her first major marathon victory. The 27-year-old Dado won in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 23, minutes 15 seconds --- almost a minute better than her previous personal best.

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 02, 2011

Cubs Fire Manager Mike Quade

Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade will not return next season.

Theo Epstein, the team's new president of baseball operations, announced the decision Wednesday after traveling to Florida to inform Quade.

Epstein praised Quade, but said the Cubs will benefit from someone who can come in "with a clean slate and offer new direction.''

Quade got the job after a 37-game audition at the end of the 2010 season, replacing Lou Piniella on an interim basis. The Cubs went 24-13 and he was chosen over Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg for the job last season.

The Cubs ended the year 71-91, finishing fifth in the NL Central.

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - November 02, 2011

Illinois Beats Wayne State College in Pre-Season Men’s Basketball

The Illini men's basketball team opened the 2012 season last night with a 79-51 exhibition win over Nebraska's Wayne State College.

The Wayne State Wildcats stayed competitive in the first half, and even led the game at the beginning of the 2nd half. But then, the Illinois points started to add up.

Meyers Leonard and Brandon Paul led Illinois in scoring, with 18 and 16 respectively. Freshman Mike Shaw grabbed 8 rebounds. Wayne State College's Amry Shelby scored a game-high 22 points.

With seven newcomers, much is unknown about this Illini team. Coach Bruce Weber says even the players aren't sure what to expect.

"To me the funniest thing was starting lineup --- most of them have never started, Weber said. "They didn't know what to do. When they introduced them, I don't know if you guys noticed -- they didn't know to go shake hands with the other players, be up at half-court --- they were kind of running around with their heads cut off, shaking the hands of the referee. But it kind of shows you where we're at, as far as a lot of new people."

Injuries kept Illinois newcomers Sam Maniscalco , Mike Henry and Devin Langford on the bench. Sophomore Crandall Head sat out for undisclosed disciplinary reasons -- the first of a four game suspension for Head.

Weber attributes the rash of injuries to the team's aggressive, competitive practices -- where walk-ons Kevin Beradini and Canadian Jean Selus are among the few men left standing.

"We had a day last week where Tracy (Abrams) had his tooth knocked loose, Tyler (Griffey) had stitched in his head, Joe (Bertrand) got a hip-pointer, Mike Henry got a quad strain and contusion, Sammy has been boogered up. And we're down to like, eight, nine guys. Canada (Jean Selus) and Kevin's got a lot of practice time.

The wounded have until Monday to heal. That's when the Illini host Quincy for the next exhibition game of the men's basketball pre-season.

Categories: Education, Sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - November 01, 2011

Cubs Introduce New GM Hoyer

Jed Hoyer was introduced as the Chicago Cubs new general manager, joining Theo Epstein in a partnership that they hope can bring a World Series championship to a team without one since 1908.

Hoyer left the San Diego Padres after two years as their GM. Also coming to the Cubs from the Padres was assistant GM Jason McLeod, who also worked with Hoyer and Epstein in Boston where they helped the Red Sox win championships in 2004 and 2007.

McLeod will be in charge of scouting and player development for the Cubs. Epstein was introduced as director of baseball operations last week after leaving the Red Sox with a year to go on his contract.

Hoyer was introduced Tuesday as the 15th GM in Cubs history.

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 31, 2011

Cardinals Manager La Russa Announces Retirement

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

Three days after winning the World Series, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is retiring.

The 67-year-old manager announced his retirement at a news conference Monday at Busch Stadium.

"I have no regrets about looking at them and saying, I did the best I could and the numbers are what they are," he said. "Could a better manager have won more games? Yeah. He's better and he could have won more, but they got my best shot."

La Russa has the most wins as a manager in Cardinals history, and is third on the all-time baseball wins list, behind Connie Mack and John McGraw. The World Series win over Texas was the third of La Russa's 33-year career. The manager guided the Cardinals to the championship despite losing ace starter Adam Wainwright for the season in spring training and despite being 10 1/2 games behind Atlanta on Aug. 25.

In addition to this season, he won championships in Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006. LaRussa also managed the Chicago White Sox from 1979 to 1986, winning the American League West division title in 1983.

La Russa said both general manager John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt Jr. asked him several times as the Cardinals made a thrilling late season and playoff run if he was sure about his decision. He says he never wavered.

"You gotta look in the mirror, and I know if that I came back I would be coming back for the wrong reasons and I couldn't do that," he said.

La Russa says he is a bit nervous about the unknown, but says he might own a minor league team or open a bookstore. Team officials say they have not set a timetable by which they'd like to hire a new manager.

(AP Photo/Ed Betz)

Categories: Biography, Sports
Tags: sports, people

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 25, 2011

Theo Epstein Aims to Break the Cubs’ Drought

Theo Epstein has officially been introduced as the new president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. Epstein joins the Cubs after a mostly successful 10-year stint with the Boston Red Sox.

"I wouldn't trade my time with the Red Sox, but I do think it was time to move on. They're in great hands and they have a terrific future laid out in front of them, and I was ready for the next big challenge. And this is certainly the ultimate challenge. I'm ready to embrace it and move forward," Epstein told reporters Tuesday in his first press appearance at Wrigley Field.

Epstein left Boston with one year still left on his contract as general manager. The Red Sox and the Cubs have yet to determine compensation for the deal.

Esptein helped the Red Sox win two World Series championships after 86 years without one. He said he thinks he could help the Cubs break their 103-year-old drought.

"We're going to make a foundation for sustained success a priority," Epstein said. "That will lead to playing October baseball more often than not down the road. And once you get in October, there's a legitimate chance to win the World Series. I believe we can do it, and I look forward to helping."

The Cubs finally made the announcement that Epstein would be moving to the Cubs on Friday night, but held off on the news conference until Tuesday, an off-day for the World Series.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Categories: Sports
Tags: sports

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