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Illinois-Chattanooga preview

Chattanooga (2-0)
All time:
0-1 (Chattanooga 75-63 Illinois, second round 1997 NCAA Tournament)
Tip-off: 7:30 pm in Springfield
TV: Big Ten Network

The Mocs most recent game is no comparison for Illinois (a 94-55 drubbing of Hiwassee), but its first game certianly is. In the opener, Chattanooga took Georgia to overtime and came away with a 92-90 victory. It was the depth of the roster that earned the victory, with the Mocs outscoring Georgia’s bench 40-17. Johnathan Burroughs-Cook accounted for 23 of the bench’s 40 points by himself, tying the game high of guard Casey Jones.

Whether Illini fans like it or not, Georgia is a good comp this year; in fact, KenPom.com has the Bulldogs ranked a few slots ahead of Illinois (with better adjusted defense, but slightly worse adjusted offense). The lesson John Groce and his players can learn from Georgia’s loss, however, is that Chattanooga is very foul prone. Three players, including top scorer Jones, fouled out in the overtime win. Though depth may be a strength for the Mocs, getting their best in foul trouble will be a smart strategy.

Of course, Illinois has its own foul issues (Mike Thorne Jr. fouled out in 13 minutes and Leron Black picked up 4 in 4 minutes against Providence), but they played smart defense and held arguably the nation’s best player in Kris Dunn to just 10 points and 3 assists. The key to that was walk-on Alex Austin, whom I thought would not even crack the starting lineup. He’s obviously proven to Groce that he has the chops to get significant minutes, and if he can repeat his performance and Illinois can make dunks (ugh), this could be a bounce back game.

Predicted lineups

Gut feeling

The Providence loss was heartbreaking (words do no justice), but it was a very good and well-coached game from the Illini. If they can get past the final outcome, there should be plenty to take forward and I think this game will see them back at .500.


Big Grove Tavern wins Golden Beet Award

Big Grove Tavern just won the 2015 Golden Beet Award for Restaurants and Institutions, which recognizes those that are paving the way for a local food system develop here in Illinois.

The winner is selected through a non biased committee and out of the entire state, Big Grove Tavern was chosen as the one that worked best with local farmers and to create a community-based food collaboration.

It's truly a great honor, but Executive Chef Jessica Gorin and her team are still hard at work at the restaurant as usual, bringing in constantly new fresh creations inspired by the farmers' market.

You can find all of the info in the press release below:

Big Grove Tavern wins 2015 Golden Beet Award.

Executive Chef Jessica Gorin and her team at Big Grove Tavern has been selected a winner of the 2015 Golden Beet Award for Restaurants and Institutions!

The Golden Beets are annual awards given out by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a statewide non-profit organization that promotes local food and sustainable farming, in order to recognize those outstanding individuals, organizations, and businesses that are paving the way for local food system development through-out Illinois. That might entail anyone from the classroom teacher who is starting up her own school garden, to the restaurant whose core value is to buy locally produced food, to the activist group fighting for fair local food policy rights, or even the blogger providing local food recipes and gardening tips for the community. Six Golden Beets are awarded each year under the following categories: Farm to School, Restaurants and Institutions, Community Food Projects, Innovative Farmer, Scaling Up, and Other Varieties.

An unbiased selection committee made up of individuals involved in local food work around the state selected Big Grove Tavern as the winner of the Restaurant and Institutions category from all of the nominations that we received.

About Big Grove Tavern

Big Grove Tavern opened its doors in May of 2012 bringing the first true farm to table restaurant in the Champaign Urbana community. Executive Chef Jessica Gorin and Sous Chefs Terrah King and Tomasz Nilges draw inspiration from the local farmer's market and utilize exceptional ingredients at the height of their season. Each menu reflects a solid commitment to using naturally-raised and organic ingredients sourced directly from local farms and farmers' markets.

Our name comes from a large stand of trees called, “The Big Grove,” which offered shelter from the wide open prairie skies during the earliest days of our community. Now known as Busey Woods, you can still see the remnant of Big Grove in Urbana today.


Tonight on SP Radio: SPEAK Cafe

Shaya Robinson joins guest host Cope on the show this evening to discuss Krannert Art Museum's SPEAK Cafe. SPEAK (Song, Poetry, Expression, Art, and Knowledge) Cafe is an open-mic public space for hip-hop, activism, and Black Power expression. 

Smile Politely Radio airs each Friday at 5:30 p.m. on WEFT 90.1 FM in Champaign and is available as a podcast the following week. You can find our past episodes here. Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes!


UIUC in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons… again

The Indendent picked up the story about the horrific (and short-lived) "white student union," contributing to U of I's continued tailspin in the national and international spotlight. From the news coverage:

Students at an American university have sparked anger after reportedly forming a white student union to counter what they describe as “terrorism” from black students.


Wolfram and Unit 4 schools partner for STEM

This Friday at Franklin Middle School, employees from software and computing giant, Wolfram, will be visiting STEM classes as part of “coding Fridays”. The event is an ongoing partnership between Wolfram and Unit 4 schools aimed at utilizing local STEM experts to enhance middle school STEM experiences and learning. As per the press release:

Wolfram will be assisting students in using code to generate a "ninja name" and then 3D printing their name as part of this Friday's lesson. This hands-on opportunity is an extension of the partnership Unit 4 Schools has been developing with Wolfram over the past year, which is bringing local tech expertise into our public school classrooms.

The event will be lasting from 1:30-2:50 p.m. at Franklin Middle School in Champaign.


Parkland College evacuated and closed for the day

Today on Facebook, many Parkland College students have been posting about an evacuation and closing of the facilities. According to News-Gazette reporting it was a bomb threat posted on social media.

I spoke with Parkland police directly and they confirmed the evacuation but would not release any more information.  


Parkland College is evacuating. Classes are canceled for the day and the evening.

Posted by Parkland College on Thursday, November 19, 2015

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. (PS)

Here's the announcement from a Parkland news release email:

The Parkland College campus was closed today at approximately 10:20 a.m. due to a bomb threat to the campus. Campus safety officers and staff have evacuated the campus as a precautionary measure, and Parkland Child Development Center patrons have been relocated to Champaign Park District’s Eisner Park.

Currently Champaign County Sherriffs’ Department’s bomb-detecting dog is on campus, with additional resources being deployed from the Secretary of State’s office and the City of Decatur, IL. This process typically takes several hours. Please stay tuned Parkland.edu to Parkland’s Facebook or Twitter accounts for updates.

UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. (PS)

For those of you wondering, the performance of Noises Off! tonight has been canceled as well.


Mental Greatness is found in the Basement (Gallery)

Don't miss your opportunity to attend another rare but exciting foray into The Basement Gallery this Saturday, November 21st. The exhibition, Mental Greatness, features artists with mental illnesses who have chosen to share their journeys in life. Intended to reveal these struggles as the common but invisible part of our society that it is, the works celebrate victories and enumerate difficulties faced by the artists. 

As usual, the event will begin with a happy hour at the Blind Pig on Walnut (Big Pig) from 5:30 - 7:30p.m. Curator Grace Savina will be there, and her own artwork will be on display at the bar. Attendees who have made a reservation online will be led to the undisclosed location of the Basement Gallery afterwards. 

Space is limited to only 50 participants, so be sure to make your reservation soon! If the event is filled by the time you try, still put your name in and swing by the Big Pig on Saturday evening, meet Savina, and mix it up with fellow art lovers. It's always possible someone will flake, and your lucky number will come up! 


The University of Illinois Extension program plans to help farmers with Small Acres

The University of Illinois Extension program is offering an event to help those tending small farms put their acres to good use.  Taking place at 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello, Small Acres will provide useful tips and tools to those tending to smaller farms consisting between 5 and 10 acres.  Small Acres will also include presentations include tips on beekeeping, caring for chicken flocks, chainsaw safety, and more. 

Small Acres will take place on December 5th and costs $30 per person, with a provided lunch.

The last day for registration is on November 30th, and can be done via phone, (217) 877-6042, email, or online here.  More information about this event and more programs can be found here