Tag: Illinois State Redbirds

Larry Lyons
Associated Press

Illinois State honors plane crash victims

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In early April the Illinois State athletic department was hit hard by tragedy, with a plane crash claiming the lives of seven people including two who worked for the school who were returning to the area from the Final Four.

Men’s basketball associate head coach Torrey Ward, deputy director of athletics Aaron Leetch, pilot Thomas Hileman, Scott Bittner, Terry Stralow, Andy Butler and Woodrow “Jason” Jones lost their lives in the plane crash a couple hours northeast of the regional airport in Bloomington, Illinois where the small plane was supposed to land. Saturday the school honored these seven men in a private ceremony.

The Redbird Remembrance memorial consists of seven columns in a fountain, with there also being a plaque and a wall with the seven names etched into it.

“We felt that we had a duty to honor these men, support their families and strengthen the Redbird bond,” Illinois State AD Larry Lyons said in the release. “The permanency of the memorial is to honor their legacy with dignity and respect, and we believe the design is comforting and peaceful. We picked this location so that it is accessible to the families, the campus and the community to reflect and remember.”

According to the school its athletes will also wear commemorative patches on their uniforms this academic year.

Illinois State forward suspended indefinitely after being sent home from team’s trip to Spain

Deontae Hawkins (Getty Images)
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Illinois State is trying to build on last season’s NIT appearance and 22-win season and recently they embarked on a 10-day trip to Spain to play in four exhibition games. The Redbirds returned from that trip with a 3-1 record but the team also had to send home sophomore forward Deontae Hawkins, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-8 Hawkins missed the final two games of the team’s trip as he was sent home to Dayton. According to Jim Benson of the Bloomington Pantagraph, Hawkins started fall semester classes on campus with his teammates on Monday, but he remains suspended. Having Hawkins back on campus after being sent home is a good sign that he will return to the team at some point.

It’s hard to say what Hawkins did to get sent home, but Illinois State could really use him this season as he was a key player down the stretch last season. During his freshman year, Hawkins played 22.4 minutes per game and averaged 7.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He started nine of the team’s final 11 games during the 2014-15 season.

Maryland headlines field for 2015 Cancun Challenge

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Another in-season tournament for the 2015-16 season has finalized its field, as the eight teams that will participate in the Cancun Challenge were announced Wednesday. Leading the way is Maryland, a team seen by many as the early favorites to win the Big Ten.

Head coach Mark Turgeon welcomes back key contributors such as guard Melo Trimble and forward Jake Layman, and he’ll also add both size and skill in the front court with the arrival of Diamond Stone and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter Jr. being eligible after sitting out last season. Maryland, which is also the only team in the field to make the NCAA tournament last season, is joined in the Riviera Division by Illinois State, Rhode Island and TCU.

Maryland will face Illinois State in one of the Riviera Division semifinals November 24, with TCU and Rhode Island meeting in the other semifinal. The championship and third-place games will be played the following day.

Of those three expectations are highest for Dan Hurley’s Rhode Island squad, which won 23 games and played in the Postseason NIT last season. Rising juniors E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin return, as does rising sophomore Jared Terrell, and the Rams have some solid additions joining the rotation as well.

Illinois State just missed out on the NCAA tournament, losing to Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title game, and TCU looks to account for the loss of point guard Kyan Anderson. Each of the four teams in the Riviera Division will play two home games against squads in the Mayan Division: Cleveland State, Houston Baptist, Rider and South Dakota State.

South Dakota State, which reached the Summit League title game last season, faces Houston Baptist in one Mayan Division semi with Cleveland State and Rider meeting in the other November 24 in Cancun.

Below is the complete schedule of games, with those being played in Cancun (November 24 & 25) in italics.

Nov. 19 – Houston Baptist at TCU; South Dakota State at Illinois State
Nov. 20 – Rider at Maryland
Nov. 21 – Cleveland State at Rhode Island
Nov. 24 – Mayan Division: South Dakota State vs. Houston Baptist; Rider vs. Cleveland State
Nov. 24 – Riviera Division: TCU vs. Rhode Island; Illinois State vs. Maryland
Nov. 25 – Mayan Division: Third-place and Championship games
Nov. 25 – Riviera Division: Third-place and Championship games
Nov. 28 – Cleveland State at Maryland
Nov. 29 – Rider at Rhode Island