The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

March 19, 2013

McLaurin reaches goal

CHAMPAIGN —  In his previous three seasons of college basketball, Illinois senior Sam McLaurin has never experienced “Selection Sunday.”

The transfer from Coastal Carolina had played in two National Invitation Tournaments and one College Insiders Tournament.

So in his final year of eligibility, the idea of playing in one NCAA Tournament was his goal from first day.

“That was the big deal. Other than the academic side, I wanted to go somewhere I had a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament,’’ said McLaurin, who has averaged 4.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game this season with the Illini. “Coming from the Big South, it’s either win your conference tournament or go home.

“That wasn’t what I want to be a part of anymore. Coming to a league that gets seven teams into the tournament is great.’’

His dreams were realized on Sunday when the Illinois Fighting Illini (22-12) were announced as the No. 7 seed in East Region, opening the NCAA Tournament in Austin, Texas against the 10th-seeded Colorado Buffaloes.

“It’s a very special day,’’ McLaurin said. “You are on the edge of your seat, kind of trying to figure out where you are going to go. You are hearing all of this speculation and possible seedings and pairings.

“But, when it actually happens, it’s a totally different feeling.’’

And what about his previous years at Coastal Carolina, didn’t they ever get close to an NCAA Tournament.

“My first two seasons there we won 28 games. We went 28-5 and 28-6. So, you definitely thought we won a pretty good amount of games maybe we can get in,’’ he said as the Chanticleers lost to Winthorp and UNC-Asheville in the championship games of the Big South Tournament in 2010 and 2011 respectively. “But the chances were always really slim, so I didn’t bother watching the selection show. I always waited about for the NIT Selection Show.’’

And how did that compare to Sunday’s?

“With the NIT, there is a little selection show that’s on ESPNU, it’s never on CBS,’’ McLaurin said. “It’s a great feeling hearing your name called and hearing the analysts compare you to the other team. It just gets your blood rushing a little bit.

“Now to end my career going to an NCAA Tournament is everything you could dream of.’’

McLaurin is one of four seniors on the Illini roster and they all understand the next loss will be last of their careers,

“Being in the tournament, no matter what seed you are, is good,’’ Illinois senior D.J. Richardson. “Every team is good, any team can get beat and this is single elimination.

“Selection Sunday is fun. This is what every team in college basketball plays for, to play in the NCAA Tournament. You don’t know who you are going to play against — it’s a blessing just to be selected.’’

And Illinois, along with Butler, are the only two teams in the Nation with wins over two No. 1 seeds as both the Illini and the Bulldogs defeated Gonzaga and Indiana this year.

“Just the simple fact, that we know when we are playing well and we execute, we can play with anyone in the country,’’ McLaurin said.

And while this will be his first ever trip to Austin, Texas, McLaurin said his focus is firmly planted on the basketball court.

“Getting some wins, first and foremost,’’ he said.

Friday’s game will tip off at 3:40 p.m. TNT will provide television coverage while WDAN-AM 1490 and WDNL-FM 103.1

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - CN0423 - Danville girls track photo 1 Record-setting day for Hall DANVILLE -- Athletes, coaches and fans were all giving advice to Danville sophomore Imani Hall in the high jump. While she appreciated the encouragement, Hall just focused on what she had been doing in practice for the past few weeks and it worked. H

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0423 - Danville baseball photo Vikings no match for Tigers, loss 11-3 DANVILLE -- Urbana came a calling on Danville at Danville Stadium for a Big 12 Conference game with its ace Conner Gremar (Parkland College recruit) on the mound. The Tigers also brought their hitting sticks with them to defeat Danville 11-3. Danvill

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-CN0423 - Seeger softball photo 1 Patriots take over in sixth, beat Mustangs WEST LEBANON, Ind. - Seeger hosted Fountain Central in softball and the lead went back and forth through much of the game. All that changed in the sixth inning when the Patriots sent 11 batters to the plate and scored a half-dozen runs on seven hits

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vikings softball easily cruises past Chargers DANVILLE -- Alissa Peelman overcame a tough start and hit a home run as the Danville softball team beat Champaign Centennial 12-2 in Big 12 conference action on Tuesday. Peelman gave up both of the Chargers' runs in the first inning but only gave up

    April 23, 2014

  • SPT - CN0422 - Salt Fork SB photo secondary Storm cruise past Cornjerkers CATLIN -- On a windy and drizzly afternoon in Catlin, two teams with a combined 16 wins and one loss met up in what seemed to be on paper a heavy weight fight in Vermilion Valley Conference play. The Salt Fork Storm came out of the gates strong and b

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0422 - Local roundup photo LOCAL ROUNDUP: Cox tosses no-hitter for Westville DANVILLE -- Westville right-hander Tanner Cox was in total control on Monday against the Schlarman Academy Hilltoppers at Danville Stadium. Cox tossed a five-inning perfect game, striking out 11 of the 15 batters he faced as the Tigers defeated the H

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Schedule TUESDAY Prep Baseball Fountain Central at Seeger, 3:30 p.m. Turkey Run at Covington, 4 p.m. Heritage at Schlarman Academy, 4:30 p.m. Hoopeston Area at Milford, 4:30 p.m. Urbana at Danville, 4:30 p.m. Prep Softball Fountain Central at Seeger, 3:30 p.m

    April 22, 2014

  • No Headline Provided PREP BASEBALL At Bismarck Oakwood 12, Bismarck-Henning 1 Oakwood 213 121 2 -- 12 16 0 Bismarck-Henning 000 100 0 -- 1 4 4 WP -- Taylor Turner. LP -- Strawser. 2B -- Turner, Slade. RBIs -- Landon Turner 2, Slade 2, Anderson 2, Girton, Vinson, Abbott.

    April 22, 2014

  • SPT- CN0420 - Danville baseball photo 1 Vikings continue to learn Vikings continue to learn BY AARON PATTERSON sports@dancomnews.com

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT- CN0420- NV Softball photo 2 The Mustangs, Falcons split twinbill VEEDERSBURG, Ind. - Too many mistakes cost the Fountain Central softball team any chance of defeating North Vermillion in the first game of their double header. At least that is how Mustang head coach Allison Alexander saw the game. "We had nine erro

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

E-edition
NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014


Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here: http://smu.gs/1iCWKnP

Must Read
AP Video
NDN Video