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Illini basketball preview: Michigan

Illinois at Michigan
1:15 pm
Big Ten Network

If you remember correctly, Illinois (12-7, 2-4) beat the pants off Michigan (12-7, 2-4) 10 days ago. You probably don't, however, because Illinois has since rolled over for Maryland and been beaten senseless by the likes of Purdue. Those two games stand out prominently because, like Illinois, Michigan is not doing so well this year.

Michigan is about the only team in the conference as poor defensively as the Illini. The two are holding down the basement in field goal percentage defense, with Illinois at .445 (13th) and Michigan at .468 (14th). Illinois has some advantages over the Wolverines, however, as Michigan fares worst in offensive and defensive rebounding and three point field goal defense. If these issues are highlighted in the rematch, Illinois can turn the tide of losing around rather easily.

And to be honest, the tide has to turn for Illinois. The calls for John Groce's head are at fever pitch and the window for making the tournament grows more narrow with each loss. Illinois's schedule is easier from here on (no more Purdue, Indiana, or Maryland!), but the Illini still have to travel to Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State, and Nebraska, and only one of those teams is below .500 in conference play (Iowa, surprisingly, at 3-4). Including the Michigan game, Illinois likely needs 9 wins from its remaining 12 games to clinch an at-large bid. Pressure's really on now.

My prediction: A much closer contest than the last, but Illinois edges the hosts backed by a return to form from Tracy Abrams. 


Habitat for Humanity hosting Community Open House tonight, January 19th

Champaign-Urbana's Habitat for Humanity is celebrating 25 years in 2017, and they have a series of upcoming events to promote the milestone in our community. Tonight you can visit them to help kick off the celebration.

From Habitat for Humanity:

Community Open House

Please join us in celebrating the kickoff of our 25th Anniversary in Champaign County 1992-2017.

Thursday January 19th 6-7 pm at the Habitat Restore 119 E. University Ave in Champaign

We will be presenting the George Kieffer Award--- Living the Spirit of Habitat for Humanity-- and celebrating the work of our committees, vounteers and Habitat Home owners!

Light refreshments by Dish Passionate Cuisine

In our community and around the world, Habitat believes everyone deserves a decent place to live. Our mission continues to help families build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Please join us!


Radio Maria hosting book swap

Radio Maria is hosting a book swap from 7 p.m. to midnight on Sunday, January 29th: 

Join us for a community book swap! Bring a book you've already read, and take something new that appeals to you. Any books left over at the end of the night will be donated to CU Books To Prisoners. We'll have snacks available, and the bar will be serving up $1.25 PBR and $2.25 wells.

Start your spring cleaning now, or pick up a new book for this winter. You could also bring a few extra books to ensure a few donations making it to Urbana Champaign Books to Prisoners

For more info, check out the event's Facebook page


Astronomy on Tap discusses Space Exploration on Thursday

Astronomy on Tap brings together scientists and science lovers to chat about astronomy and space and astrophysics and the like whilst enjoying pizza and beer.

The Champaign-Urbana group meets the 3rd Thursday of the month, and this month Dr. Joaquin Vieira will talk about space exploration. If you've been thinking about abandoning society as we know it for the last frontier, why not learn a few things?

Astronomy on Tap Champaign-Urbana meets Thursday, January 19th from 6 to 9 p.m. at Pizza M (208 W Main St, Urbana). The event is free; you buy your booze and food. More info is available here

Image from Facebook. 


Smile Politely seeking Arts writers

Smile Politely is always welcoming new writers into the fold, and that, of course, includes our ever-vibrant Arts section. There are constantly new artistic endeavors happening all over Champaign-Urbana, and as an Arts writer, you'll be able to have your finger on the pulse of the local art scene.

We're looking for some writers for this particular section, and in order for this to really work, you must have at least a mild grasp what's happening locally, and preferably a grasp on art as a whole, as well. Don't worry, you don't have to be a perfect writer — we'll help with that part.

Perks of being an Arts writer include, but are not limited to:

  • Being involved in a wide variety of art-based events
  • A little extra spending money.
  • Valuable writing experience.
  • Sometimes people recognize you at the bar.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, fire an email off to


Allerton receives nearly $37K in grants for trails, environmental education

From the press release:

Allerton receives grants for trails, environmental education

Monticello –Allerton Park & Retreat Center was recently awarded two grants, which will be used for trail improvements and environmental education programming. In recent years the Park, which is a unit of the University of Illinois, has increased its focus on securing private support from individual donations and granting organizations in an attempt to close the gap in funding as support from the University decreases. 

The larger of the two awards, for $36,920, is from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Recreational Trails Program, and will be used to repair eroded sections of the existing 14-mile trail system. Allerton staff applied for the grant in 2014, but because of the state budget impasse the funds were just recently distributed. The money will help continue Allerton’s goal of making the natural areas more accessible. Monthly public hikes have been helping that effort, but now several trail improvements will aid the initiative as well.

“We’ve added a wooden boardwalk and numerous gravel turnpikes over wet sections of trail, and we have realigned stretches of trail to make them safer and less prone to erosion,” explained Allerton’s Natural Areas Manager Nate Beccue. “With an improving trail system, we hope more people will come out to appreciate the beauty of Sangamon River corridor and enjoy the natural areas that we are working hard to preserve.”

The second award is a “mini-grant” from The Environmental Education Association of Illinois (EEAI) for $350, which will be used by Allerton’s Volunteer and Education Committee to develop a curriculum to facilitate local school participation in environmental education through hikes at Allerton.

This spring, 125 5th grade students from Washington Elementary in Monticello will visit Allerton for the initial full-day field trip, taking part in environmental lessons and hikes focused on five topics: prairie, woodland and wildflowers, pond study, formal gardens, and science and art with journaling. The Committee will analyze post-survey results, revising and adding lessons as needed, with plans to expand the program to additional schools in the fall of 2017.

“The ultimate goal is to develop an ongoing school outreach program that will provide a venue for students to become acquainted with ecosystems and science process skills by linking nature curriculum to state and national science standards,” explained committee member Georgiean Benson.

The reusable equipment and materials used for the field trips will also be used as resources and guides to foster self-­directed exploration at Allerton Park.

“We hope that the students will be motivated to come back to the Park with their parents for individual exploration,” Benson continued.“Overall, we want to facilitate authentic nature experiences for the next generation, helping them to understand our natural world and teaching them to protect nature as stewards of the environment.”


If you would like to get involved in supporting Allerton’s trails, environmental education programs, or other areas at Allerton contact Deanne at or call 217-333-0752.


Scotty’s Brewhouse has so many TVs you guys

Please be certain: this is not a qualifying statement — there is no judgment implied, merely statement of fact — but this is by far the highest number of televisions I have ever seen in one space. 

All of the sportsball is here. If you turn your head to the corner, you can sometimes see four, maybe five, layers of TVs. 

Also be advised, for those citizens keeping track, there are several photos on the wall of the Chief. In contrast, about every third dish name on the menu references Hoosiers (because the chain started in Indiana, but still). 

I'll leave the food qualification to my betters, but these things jumped out at me during my lunchtime spent there. 

Also, my waitress was not yet 21, but brought me my bill in the contraption pictured below. My dining companion resisted the urge to ask if she knew what it was. 


Innovation Celebration 2017 award finalists announced

From the press release:

2017 Innovation Celebration Finalists Announced

CHAMPAIGN, IL, January 17, 2017 – The Champaign County Economic Development Corporation is pleased to announce finalists for the 12thAnnual Innovation Celebration in recognition of those individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions, taken risks, and provided leadership to ensure the continuing economic success of Champaign County, the ongoing success of the University's economic development mission, and the growth of entrepreneurial talent and energy in our community.

Innovation Celebration is not merely an award for accomplishment, but a benchmark of success for those outstanding individuals, organizations and corporations who are nominated and selected to receive this prestigious award. Additionally, Innovation Celebration serves as a tangible collaboration between the Champaign County EDC, University of Illinois, Parkland College, and the community.

The winner of each award category will be announced at Innovation Celebration 2017, held at Parkland College on Friday, March 3, 2017 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. To RSVP and learn more about the event, visit

Award Finalists

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Social Venture Award

Young Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) – Champaign Unit 4 Schools

The Art of Science – Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

AWARE (Accelerating Women And underRepresented Entrepreneurs) 

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Student Startup Award


Amber Agriculture


Entrepreneurial Excellence: New Venture Award

Reconstruct Inc.

Petronics (Sprite Robotics)

PhotoniCare, Inc.

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Advocacy Award

BIGG Success

Coattails, LLC

Jed Taylor

Innovation: Economic Development Impact Award

II-VI EpiWorks


Flightstar Corporation

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Management Award

Sanjay Patel - Personify

Beth Ladd - Caterpillar Data Innovation Lab

Laura Bleill - & University of Illinois Research Park

Innovation: Longevity Award

APL Engineered Materials, Inc.

Litania Sports Group

Surface 51

2017 Innovation Transfer Award Recipient – University of Illinois

Dr. Frederic Kolb

2017 Alexis Wernsing Innovation Award Recipient – University of Illinois

Arielle Rausin

2017 Innovation in Engagement Award Recipient – Parkland College

Jenni Fridgen


The EDC is pleased to work with the following sponsors of Innovation Celebration 2017: the University of Illinois’ Technology Entrepreneur Center, Research Park, Office of Corporate Relations, and Office of Technology Management, along with Parkland College, Singleton Law Firm, Serra Ventures, City of Champaign, Village of Rantoul, Bridge – Champaign County’s Virtual Incubator, Martin Hood Friese & Associates, Fox Development Corporation, Ramshaw Real Estate, Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC, Hanson Financial, AARP, Surface 51, Guth & Associates, Pixo, Carle, IllinoisVENTURES, Huawei, II-VI EpiWorks, Adjacency, and Frasca International, Inc.


Illini basketball preview: Purdue

Illinois at #21 Purdue
6 pm
Big Ten Network

It's easy to hate Purdue in the abstract (regardless of what our publisher thinks), but it's really hard to hate this version of the Boilermakers' men's basketball team. As a team, there is a whole lot of talent on display and a whole lot that they just do right. Their scoring offense, 82.6 points/game, is 25th in the nation; their scoring margin, 16.3, is 13th. Bottom line: the Boilermakers get buckets.

Much of their success stems from big man Caleb Swanigan, who came back for his sophomore season and is making opponents pay. He's averaging a double-double, with 18 points and 12 rebounds per game, to which he's added 14 blocks, 49 assists, and 16 of 34 threes (a better percentage, 47%, than any Illini with more than 10 attempts). Supporting Swanigan are 7-footer Caleb Haas (13.3 pts/gm), Vincent Edwards (12 pts/gm, 3.6 assists/gm), and Dakota Mathias (4.1 assists/gm and 48% from three).

Purdue has shown cracks in conference play, evident in its 3-2 record. For Illinois to win, it should follow the blueprint of Purdue's loss to Minnesota. The Gophers won by balancing their scoring, but letting a star play above the rest, which is Malcolm Hill in this hypothetical. On defense, Illinois has to limit the damage the role players can do as much as possible, because stopping Swanigan and everyone around him is likely impossible. Given the dichotomous nature of the Illini, this seems possible -- but only if the good side of the Illini show up, and who knows if that will happen or if it will happen for 40 minutes even.

My prediction: Purdue wins going away, Swanigan with an easy double-double.


Krelboyne announces new album and label

Local emo/pop/punk act Krelboyne have announced the release of a new album. Called Ghost of an Empire, the EP will be co-released through two different labels: Error Records, (formerly based out of C-U,) and Sonic Dust Records, a new label constructed by Krelboyne’s own Tyler Day. The EP will also serve as the kick-off for Sonic Dust Records.

Ghost of an Empire drops on February 3rd. The band will celebrate its release on the same day with a show at Blips and Chitz, also featuring Euriah, Gigantic, and Earthholder. Krelboyne is also using this show as the first date of their approaching tour.

Get to know Krelboyne by streaming “Obfuscated,” off of Krelboyne/WLY, an album split with We Love You from last April. Preorder Ghost of an Empire on cassette, CD, or digitally.