IBCA to conduct history meeting

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IBCA to conduct history meeting

The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association will conduct a historical meeting at Redbird Arena in Bloomington at noon on Monday, Jan. 2 for the purpose of gathering information and memorabilia for the IBCA's new Hall of Fame Museum in Danville.

According to Bruce Firchau, a member of the IBCA's board of directors and chairman for the Hall of Fame Museum, the purpose of hosting and inviting basketball historians and media to this meeting "is to share our excitement with the media and historians, to acknowledge their expertise and to ask for their assistance in sharing their knowledge and ideas."

At the meeting, Firchau said the IBCA will communicate its goals, visions and themes to make the Hall of Fame Museum an exciting, interactive, historical site to visit. The IBCA's Hall of Fame Museum, scheduled to open in 2013, will be located in the David S. Palmer Arena at 100 West Main Street in downtown Danville.

"Our goal is to establish a connection between the media and historians throughout the state and the museum," said Firchau, who also is head basketball coach at Westminster Christian High School in Elgin. "This will provide a platform to share storied knowledge of Illinois basketball in perpetuity with the thousands of visitors that will make the pilgrimage to the museum in Danville."

I couldn't help but think of all of the wonderful voices that have been silenced in recent years -- Harry Fitzhugh, Vergil Fletcher, Dike Eddleman, Bobby Joe Mason, Gene Cross, Sam Miranda, Don Schnake, Walt Moore, Ken Barnes, Larry Hawkins, Lee Umbles, Jim Brown, Red Mottlow, Bill Chesbrough, Luther Bedford, Bob Hambric, Frank Lollino, Billy Harris, Sherrill Hanks, Jerry Leggett, John Thiel, Jake Fendley, Arthur Hicks, Ken "Preacher" McBride, Deacon Davis, Johnny "Red" Kerr.

I had a glorious opportunity to interview most of them while researching my book, "Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe: High School Basketball In Illinois," published by University of Illinois Press. But now they are gone. What a shame we don't have their voices on tape.

But here are some voices that could give today's generation of high school basketball players and coaches and future generations a wonderful and comprehensive education into the way it was, how it got to be the way it is and the movers and shakers who did it:

1940s: Johnny Orr, Ron Bontemps, Taylorville: Ted Beach, Rod Fletcher, Champaign; Dick Foley, Paris; Max Hooper, Mount Vernon.

1950s: Ted Caiazza, La Grange; Sweet Charlie Brown, Du Sable; Paul and Phil Judson, Bill Schulz, Hebron; Nolden Gentry, West Rockford; Mannie Jackson, Governor Vaughn, Edwardsville; John Tidwell, Herrin; Terry Bethel, Thom Jackson, Collinsville; Tom Cole, Springfield; George Wilson, Marshall, Dave Downey, Canton; Bill Small, West Aurora; Chico Vaughn, Tamms.

1960s: Cazzie Russell, Carver; Bogie Redmon, Fred Riddle, Rodger Bohnenstiehl, Dennis Pace, Tom Parker, Collinsville; Dave Golden, Pekin; LaMarr Thomas, Thornton; Rich Falk, Galva; Jerry Sloan, Jim Burns, McLeansboro; Don Freeman, Madison; Rich Bradshaw, Marshall; Eugene Ford, Crane; Dale Kelley, Galesburg; Terry Gamber, Mount Vernon; Dave Scholz, Decatur.

1970s: Rickey Green, John Robinson, Hirsch; Quinn Buckner, Thornridge; Audie Matthews, Bloom; Joe Ponsetto, Glenn "Doc" Rivers, Proviso East; Levi Cobb, Morgan Park; Pete Boesen, Jeff Baker, Maine South; Isiah Thomas, St.
Joseph; Mark Aguirre, Eddie Johnson, Westinghouse; Sonny Parker, Farragut; Ronnie Lester, Dunbar; Bo Ellis, Parker; Jay Shidler, Lawrenceville.

1980s: Russell Cross, Manley; Bruce Douglas, Michael Payne, Quincy; Marcus Liberty, Levertis Robinson, King; Nick Anderson, Deon Thomas, Simeon; Melvin McCants, Jamie Farr, Mount Carmel; Ed Horton, Springfield Lanphier; Walter Downing, Providence; Marty Simmons, Lawrenceville; Brian Sloan, McLeansboro; Eric Anderson, St. Francis de Sales.

1990s: Sergio McClain, Marcus Griffin, Howard Nathan, Peoria Manual; Antwaan Randle El, Melvin Ely, Thornton; Quentin Richardson, Whitney Young; Kevin Garnett, Ronnie Fields, Farragut; Rashard Griffith, King; Jerry Gee, St. Martin de Porres; Antoine Walker, Mount Carmel; Chris Collins, Glenbrook North; Mike Robinson, Peoria Richwoods; A.J. Guyton, Peoria Central.

The Chicago Catholic League, which didn't join the Illinois High School Association until 1974-75, is frequently overlooked in the discussion. But old-timers recall how intense the PublicCatholic championship games at old Chicago Stadium were and how many great players the Catholic League produced over the years.

Shelly Stark, a keen observer of Chicago basketball since 1950, rates Sweet Charlie Brown and Paxton Lumpkin of Du Sable, Clarence Wardlaw of Crane, Jamie Brandon of King and Abe Booker of Wells as the top five Public League players he has seen, rating them ahead of Cazzie Russell, Tommy Hawkins, George Wilson and Billy Harris.

Stark also rates Arthur Hicks of St. Elizabeth, Jack Stephens and Greg Carney of Mount Carmel, Tony Parker of Leo and Sam Puckett of Hales Franciscan as the top five Catholic Leaguers he has seen, rating them ahead of LaRue Martin, Kevin Boyle, Steve Krafcisin, Lloyd Walton, Jerry Gee, Antoine Walker and Eric Anderson.

Firchau has a "wish list" of memorabilia he is looking for to fill the new museum--old pictures, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, recordings of school songs, basketball programs and scorebooks and media guides, trophies, uniforms and warm-ups, old shoes, autographed basketballs, letter jackets, cheerleading and mascot uniforms, pennants, even old lockers and scoreboards and players' benches.

And if anyone knows how to get their hands on the huge cutout of the state of Illinois with lights for the participating towns that used to hang on the wall in old Huff Gym...well, contact ilhoopshall.com or call (217)
442-3865 or e-mail Firchau at firchau@sbcglobal.net.

When the IBCA was organized in 1971, the vision of founders Chuck Rolinski of Toluca and Sherrill Hanks of Quincy was to have a permanent building to display and tell the rich history of all levels of basketball played in Illinois.

The new Hall of Fame museum will combine videos, exhibits, photographs and memorabilia and also will honor the players, coaches, officials, teams, media and others who have impacted the game.

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin signs three-year deal with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin was hoping to get a good enough look to earn a contract with the Blackhawks. On Sunday, he got it.

The Blackhawks agreed with Fortin on a three-year contract. The 19-year-old, who garnered attention at the team’s prospect camp in July, recorded 43 points in 54 games with Rouyn-Noranda (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League).

Fortin was passed over in two NHL drafts but his prospect camp was impressive enough to earn him an invitation to this training camp.

Notre Dame schedule watch: Irish bowl eligibility far from a guarantee

Notre Dame schedule watch: Irish bowl eligibility far from a guarantee

After losing to Duke to fall to 1-3, Notre Dame isn’t making a New Year’s Six bowl this year — and, the way things are shaping up, there’s a very real possibility for the Irish to have some nervy games to get to bowl eligibility in 2016. 

Should Notre Dame beat Syracuse, N.C. State, Navy and Army, and then at least one of Stanford, USC, Miami and Virginia Tech? Of course. But Notre Dame should’ve beaten Duke on Saturday — S&P+ gave the Irish an 84 percent chance of winning and the line was Notre Dame by 21. There are no sure victories left on this schedule, starting with next weekend’s game against Syracuse. 

Before looking at how Notre Dame’s opponents fared in Week 4, a power ranking of those 12 teams:

1. Stanford (3-0)
2. Miami (3-0)
3. Virginia Tech (3-1)
4. Michigan State (2-1)
5. Texas (2-1)
6. Navy (3-0)
7. Army 3-1)
8. Duke (2-2)
9. Syracuse (2-2)
10. N.C. State (2-1)
11. USC (1-3)
12. Nevada (2-2)

Worth noting, Notre Dame would probably slot in these at No. 11, just ahead of USC and Nevada, right now. 

On to the weekend’s results:

Texas: Bye

Charlie Strong put his coaches on notice this week as Texas licked its wounds from its 50-43 loss to Cal. Next up is a trip to Oklahoma State before the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma in Dallas. 

Nevada: Lost, 24-14, at Purdue

Purdue committed four turnovers and still won by 10 against a Nevada side that, after making back-to-back bowl games, should’ve done better than this. But hey, at least Nevada got a sack, meaning that for part of the afternoon Notre Dame was the only team at the FBS level without one. 

Michigan State: Lost, 30-6, vs. Wisconsin

So maybe Michigan State’s offense really isn’t as good as it looked against Notre Dame’s defense? Tyler O’Connor threw three interceptions and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes (18/38 for 224 yards) as Wisconsin charged out of the second half with 17 third quarter points to cruise in East Lansing. Losing this badly at home qualifies as embarrassing for Mark Dantonio’s Spartans, but it doesn’t make Notre Dame — which was picked apart by O’Connor — look any better, either. 

Syracuse: Won, 31-24, at UConn

Eric Dungey threw for 407 yards and two touchdowns against Bob Diaco’s Huskies, with 270 of those yards and both scores courtesy of receiver Amba Etta-Tawo. Dino Babers’ up-tempo, passing-oriented offense could very well cause this shaky Irish secondary some problems at MetLife Stadium on Saturday. 

N.C. State: Bye

The Wolfpack had the weekend off before opening ACC play with a home date against Wake Forest next weekend. 

Stanford: Won, 22-13, at UCLA

Ryan Burns’ touchdown toss to JJ Arcega-Whiteside was the game-winner, and Soloman Thomas returned a fumble 42 yards with no time left to make this margin look a lot greater than it actually was. Christian McCaffrey rushed for 138 yards and Stanford held Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen to an 18/27, 248 yard, one touchdown evening. Next up for the Cardinal is a Friday night trip to Washington that could have College Football Playoff implications. 

Miami: Bye

An extra week to prepare for a road trip to Georgia Tech — which was blown out by Clemson last week — isn’t the worst thing to get ready to face the triple option. 

Navy: Bye

At 3-0, Navy is in a good position record-wise but the transition away from Keenan Reynolds hasn’t been entirely smooth. Navy travels to Air Force next weekend before hosting Houston on Oct. 8. 

Army: Lost, 23-20, at Buffalo

Army’s No. 1 placekicker was injured, and backup Blake Wilson missed what would’ve been a game-winning 34-yard field goal at the end of regulation. Instead, Army was dealt its first loss of the season in overtime to a fairly weak Buffalo side. At 3-1, Army is still in its best position in six years, but this is still a stinging loss. After a bye next weekend, Army travels to face Duke. 

Virginia Tech: Won, 54-17, vs. East Caorlina

Hokies quarterback Jerrod Evans threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 97 yards and another score in a pasting of ECU, a perennial group-of-five upset specialist (ECU beat N.C. State earlier this year). Outside of that turnover-filled loss to Tennessee, Virginia Tech has looked pretty good so far in Year 1 of the Justin Fuente era. They have a bye next week before a trip to North Carolina that’ll be a good test for their ACC Coastal chances. 

USC: Lost, 31-27, at Utah

The Trojans are 1-3, and that there’s a very real path to that season-ending game against Notre Dame having bowl eligibility implications for both teams. USC led by 10 late in the third quarter but allowed a 15-play, 93-yard scoring drive that ended with an 18-yard game-winning touchdown for the Utes with 16 seconds left. How much longer does Clay Helton have in Los Angeles?