ISU hosts No. 16 Creighton in MVC Championship rematch

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ISU hosts No. 16 Creighton in MVC Championship rematch

The last time ISU and Creighton faced off, the Redbirds took the nationally-ranked Bluejays into overtime in the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship.

But so much has changed for ISU since then.

In that Mar. 4 matchup, point guard Nic Moore led the Redbirds with 20 points. He has since transferred to SMU where he joined Tim Jankovich, ISU's coach from 2007-12.

Jankovich racked up 105 wins in his five seasons, earning four bids in the NIT tournament, but falling short of the NCAA tournament. ISU lost in the conference championship three times in Jankovich's tenure, including his first two seasons as head coach.

Dan Muller took over for Jankovich prior to the 2012-13 season in an attempt to rekindle the magic from his playing days. Muller headlined the last ISU team to make the NCAA tournament in 1998, earning the MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player and leading the Redbirds to a first-round win over Tennessee before losing to Arizona in the second round.

Muller, who has the Redbirds out to a 9-4 start to the campaign, never lost to Creighton in his playing days. But CU has had ISU's number the past few seasons, winning 21 of the last 31 matchups between the two teams.

Doug McDermott, the 2011-12 Valley Player of the Year, headlines a Creighton attack with his 23.5 points per game. The 6-foot-8 junior poured in 33 points in the MVC Championship game last season and has the Bluejays off to a hot start this season with a 12-1 record and No. 16 ranking in the country.

Creighton marks the second nationally-ranked team ISU has faced this season, following a 69-66 loss at No. 5 Louisville Dec. 1.

ISU legend and Chicago native Osiris Eldridge will act as the Redbird Ambassador for Wednesday's matchup.

Osiris Eldridge @Osiris_Eldridge ISU 2Mrrw!!!! for the creighton game! Can't wait to see my Redbird family! 1 Jan 13 Reply Retweet Favorite
Eldridge, who made the All-Valley team three straight seasons from 2008-10, is ISU's career leader in three-pointers and ranks fifth in scoring in the program's history. In 2009, he was named MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, just the second time a player from the losing team took home the award.

Wednesday's matchup can be seen on CSN where available. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

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Photo at top: Loyola Academy assistant coach Paul Pryma extends his hand toward a Steinmetz High School player during pregame introductions on Feb. 21. (Andres Waters/MEDILL)

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

By Andres Waters
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

After Loyola Academy held off rival New Trier 43-40 to win the 2017 Zion-Benton regional championship, Ramblers head coach Tom Livatino had a special message for his players.

"That's the best celebration that I have ever been a part of," Livatino said. "Because everybody was completely about love. You guys love each other and we all can tell. I'm really, really proud just to be one of our coaches."

While the speech was a powerful way for Livatino to tell the players of his appreciation, he and other high school coaches engage in something much bigger to show players how proud they are: college recruiting.

In addition to time spent planning and practicing, coaches also sacrifice countless hours each week helping their players find opportunities to play at the next level.

"It's a really long part of the process, but to be honest, it's a part of the job that I absolutely love," Livatino said. "We demand so much of our players in every aspect. And, from a basketball standpoint, the least I could do is everything in my power to help them out."

Less than 48 hours after the Ramblers completed their season with a loss to Evanston Township in the Waukegan Sectional semifinal, Livatino was back in his office holding individual meetings with each player.

Starting with the 10 departing seniors, Livatino discussed the factors that go into choosing a college for high school athletes.

His conversations with the two players who already committed, senior guards Ramar Evans and Matt Lynch, focused on how they felt about their next steps. With the others, Livatino asked whether they wanted to play at the next level and, if so, which schools they wanted to attend that shared an interest in them. The conversations held with the Ramblers' juniors are very similar.

"I wasn't just looking for basketball, I was looking for a fit academically and socially," said Lynch, who committed to Division III St. Norbert College. "[Livatino] said St. Norbert would be the best fit for me. It fit everything I was looking for."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

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Photo at top: La Rue Martin poses for a photo at a National Basketball Retired Players Association event. (Photo courtesy of La Rue Martin)

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

By Elan Kane
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

LaRue Martin Jr. thought his future was set. The Portland Trail Blazers had drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1972 NBA draft. Money and fame awaited.

Fifteen years later, he started work as a UPS driver, struggling to find uniform pants that fit his 6-foot-11 frame.

"There is life after sports," Martin said. "Period."

It's been 45 years since the draft and Martin, a former Loyola University star, is now the UPS Illinois district public affairs and community services manager. He is labeled by many as one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history, but he is fine with that designation.

"I don't believe in saying anything negative, you have no control over that," Martin said. "I took care of my family, did what I had to do and I'm the type of person I can't dwell off the negatives. I can't. I kept my head up high and moved onto a positive mode of life and it has treated me very well."

Martin averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game in just four seasons with the Trail Blazers. He blames his low numbers on his lack of playing time, but many believe he was just not good enough.

"He didn't get playing time because he [stunk]," said Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan, who has covered the NBA for decades. "[Former No. 1 overall draft pick Michael] Olowokandi didn't do much but I think he did more than that."

Martin is used to the criticism.

"As a young man, reading the papers all the time, that bothered me, I must admit that," Martin said. "But I hold my head up high now because I've been very successful in the corporate world."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.