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Illini stumble in Minnesota over the weekend

Illinois's hopes of making the NCAA Tournament took a major hit on Saturday as the team lost to Minnesota on the road, 79-71.

A string of poor defensive play and turnovers in the second half spelled doom for the Illini. After tying the game at 44 with 12:29 to play, the Gophers went on a 17-2 run, during which Illinois turned the ball over 3 times and missed 5 field goals.

The result was a product of the young Illini playing like the inexperienced players they are for a stretch and not having the depth (thanks to injuries) to overcome errors. Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill each had 18 points in the loss, but failed to really exert any dominance over the game. Jaylon Tate (11 points) was the only other Illini who managed to score in double figures.

Minnesota, on the other hand, moved the ball with great percision, causing the Illinois defense to break down multiple times and leave the Gophers with open shots. Overall the hosts executed their game plan to a tee, which led to Andre Hollins breaking out for 28 points.

This loss means Illinois (13-8, 3-5) will have to knock off some heavily favored teams in its final 10 regular season games to make a case for the Tourney. Any repeats of Saturday's performance, however, and Illinois may not even be considered for the NIT this year.

Photo courtesy of FightingIllini.com.


Daily Bread Soup Kitchen benefit trivia event happening January 31st

From the Facebook event:

This first annual fundraiser for Daily Bread Soup Kitchen will take place on Saturday, January 31st, 2015, from 5-8 p.m. at the HighDive in Champaign.

This team trivia event will be hosted by Mike Ingram and will feature questions contributed by local trivia hosts Quizmaster Chris (Mike and Molly's), Monty Joyce (Blind Pig Brewery), Kris Koester and Holly Herrera (Boltini), and Joe Funderburk (Memphis on Main), among others.

Individual admission is $20 (or $100 for teams of 6 registered at the door) and includes food catered by Hendrick House.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

Trivia begins promptly at 5:30 p.m.

— Teams may consist of no more than 6 people.

— Smart phones or other electronic devices may not be used during the trivia competition. Violators will be immediately disqualified.


Theatre of the Hummingbird

The Community Center for the Arts will host THEATRE OF THE HUMMINGBIRD, a pilot project for a community-based, participant-driven theatre project culminating in a public performance. Led by local international performing artists Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman, Hummingbird is open to young adults ages 14-20 with a desire to contribute to the world through the arts. Participants will work together to develop their original ideas into a unique evening of live, local theatre.

MEETS: Fridays and Saturdays 6-9 p.m., February 6th–March 8th, at Community Center for the Arts, 103 North Race Street, Urbana

CONTACT: Robin Kearton: info@c-4a.org

This project is paid for in part by a City of Urbana Arts Grant.

Community Center for the Arts is supported in part by a grant from the  llinois Arts Council Agency.


Webpage for more info: http://c-4a.org/theatre-of-the-hummingbird/

More info on dates:
4 weekends: February (6-7) (13-14) (27-28) March (6-7-8)
Fridays and Saturdays 6-9 p.m.
Sunday (March 8) matinee and evening times TBA
No sessions on February 20-21


Spoiler Alert: Dem voters like to vote for Dem candidates

It was about a year ago when I first compared Kristin Williamson's chances of winning the 103rd State Rep election to Team USA's very unexpected victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Obviously, Kristin would need a miracle of her own to pull off the upset, but that obviously didn't happen. To my surprise and enjoyment, the race generated a lot of interesting discussion and both sides treated it as a contested race after Carol Ammons won the primary in impressive fashion over the her Madigan-backed opponent.  

Since the election, I've heard and read several comments from activists and hecklers that made me smile. The one thing that finally pushed me to post something was from Urbana resident Aaron Ammons. Aaron stood in front of the Unit 4 school board and spoke on behalf of all Chamaign voters who voted for his wife while speaking out against the group working to keep Central central effort (formerly known as REWIND). So a guy from Urbana is speaking on behalf of Champaign Democrats on a non-partisan school issue? Obviously he knows that not all the precincts for Unit 4 were represented in the 103rd State Rep election, right? At any rate, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some election analysis. 

I performed a precinct-level analysis before and after the election. It's very easy to do as our Champaign County Clerk conveniently shares election results on excel spreadsheets. It's rather simple to conclude that when it comes to electing policy makers, Dem voters generally vote for Dem candidates. In the Champaign precincts of the 103rd District, here are how other Dem candidates performed (%of vote):

Ammons - 58%
Ann Callis - 56%
Mike Frerichs - 62%
Dick Durbin - 61%
Pat Quinn - 52%

Since Jakobsson won these same precincts with 63% of the vote in the last non-presidential election (2010), there is nothing really notable about a Dem candidate winning in a Dem district with similar vote percentages to other Democrats. While the primary victory was certainly impressive, the general election results do not support the chest pounding I'm seeing and reading. Did Team Ammons run a good campaign? Absolutely. Was Kristin Williams able to convert Dem voters into Rep voters? Nope. Was the Ammons campaign able generate an exceptional level of support in any way and/or impact other races?  I just don't see it. 

At the end of the day, it's good to be a Democrat in a district that was gerrymandered for Democrats and vice versa. I thought it was awesome how Team Ammons treated Williamson like a legitimate threat every step of the way and I thought it was equally great how the Williamson campaign treated the campaign as if they intended to win. Isn't that what campaigns are supposed to do? I just don't get why people are so eager to talk smack over the Ammons victory and/or treat the Ammons victory in the general election as something extraordinary. I'm much more impressed with Mike Frerich's and Gordy Hulten's performance in the general election.  


Illinois basketball preview: Minnesota

Illinois shook up the roster big time after its win against Purdue on Wednesday. "LOL, jk", they just added manager Ryan Schmidt to the active roster as a depth option:

This is a really minor move, but a cool one, as Groce is giving new guys a chance with the trio of Abrams, Cosby, and Rice injured. Given Illinois's opponent on Saturday, Minnesota, there's maybe a small chance he could see a minute of action or so.

Which is to say, Minnesota is pretty bad. The Gophers have started the Big Ten season 1-6, beating only Rutgers (who was widely picked to finish last in the conference). Minny has been in some close games, such as a 74-72 overtime loss to Ohio State or a 77-75 loss to Iowa, but they've lost some not close games to the likes of Purdue and Michigan. 

Maybe there's some bad luck in Minnesota's record or maybe they're actually terrible. Stats seem to suggest a little of both, as the Gophers score rank highly in important offensive statistics (23rd in points per game, 40th in field goal percentage) but poorly in defensive stats (173rd in points allowed, 219th in defensive rebounding).

Minnesota is a big contrast from Purdue because they rely on threes fairly heavily to score. They're shooting 39% for the year from behind the arc, so limiting their production to less than the average will be important for Illinois on Saturday. This means never letting Andre Hollins get an uncontested shot, as he's made one-third of Minnesota's threes so far.

This is another must-win game for Illinois, like Purdue. If they play with the fire they had against the Boilermakers it will be a win too.

My prediction: Illinois 74 — Minnesota 62


Naming contest underway for Urbana’s Boneyard Creek

From the press release:

Naming Contest Underway for Urbana’s Boneyard Creek

The City of Urbana is calling upon the community for assistance in naming the nearly complete Boneyard Creek Improvements Project. Under construction since November 2012, the project spans from Race and Griggs Street to Broadway and University Avenues and consists of a new bridge, small urban park and numerous public arts components. 

Entries may be submitted online at www.urbanaillinois.us/naming-contest, or in person by completing an entry form provided at one of the ballot boxes located at: the Urbana City Building, 400 South Vine Street; Urbana Free Library, 210 Green Street; and Phillips Recreation Center, 505 West Stoughton Street. The naming contest is open to anyone 18 years old or older. For complete contest rules and details, please visit www.urbanaillinois.us/naming-contest.

All entries will be reviewed by a small jury and three names will be chosen for a final vote by the public. The selected name will be officially announced on April 11, 2015, at a Boneyard commemoration event to take place as part of the county-wide Boneyard Arts Festival.

For more information please contact Pauline Tannos, Public Arts Intern, Community Development Services Department, at 217/328-8265 or ptannos@urbanaillinois.us. To receive updates on this naming contest, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


Reclaiming MLK’s Radical Roots at the IMC

Check out the "Reclaiming MLK's Radical Roots" event that CUCPJ and the IMC are co-hosting this Sunday.

When: Sunday, January 25 2015, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: U-C Independent Media Center, 202 S. Broadway, Urbana 61801

Here's some info about the event:

CUCPJ and UCIMC will host “Reclaiming MLK’s Radical Roots” as part of a national effort to bring the #BlackLivesMatter movement into the New Year.  

We'll have invited readers, music, and refreshments, and an open mic. Bring your favorite King speeches and reflections on them, or we'll supply copies of his more radical writings.

Too often in mainstream media we see a whitewashed Martin Luther King. But if King had been only a dreamer, they wouldn't have shot him. His words and actions of nearly fifty years ago were controversial at the time and remain profoundly radical today.

We want to revisit his example to bring forth a 21st Century grassroots movement. We continued to be haunted by what King called the triplets of “racism,” “materialism,” and “militarism.” Now more than ever we need a “radical revolution” against the New Jim Crow―mass incarceration, police brutality, and a criminal injustice system keeping African American youth in shackles. What can we understand of today's situations in the light of Martin Luther King's vision, and where does it lead us?


Research Park hosting Mobile Development Day on January 29th

Next Thursday, January 29th, the U of I Research Park will be holding their 2015 installment of Mobile Development Day. You can check out some information about the event below, and register to participate here (it is free, FYI).

With an attendance of over 200 participants and 30 speakers, Mobile Development Day provides an opportunity for attendees to share information and network with peers about mobile development taking place in the entrepreneurial, corporate, and educational milieus in the Research Park, the University of Illinois, the Champaign-Urbana region, and beyond.

Here's the entire agenda for the day, which is pretty stacked. Check it out.