Sports Editor Matt Daniels' Daily Pitch: April 6, 2024 | Sports


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Sports Editor Matt Daniels with a look at what's happening in the area:

10242023. Undergrowth.  1

Illinois men's basketball coach Brad Underwood will appear again on Esquire next Monday for “Monday Night SportsTalk.” Illinois women's basketball coach Shauna Green will also join Underwood for the show at the popular downtown Champaign eatery.

Three reasons why we love sports today

1. Brad Underwood and Shauna Green will be guests at Esquire in downtown Champaign for “Monday Night SportsTalk” from 5 to 6 p.m. Can't make it to see both Illinois basketball coaches? Tune in to WDWS 1400-AM or 93.9-FM or listen to the podcast at

2. Speaking of prominent Illini personalities on local radio, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman will appear on “Saturday SportsTalk” along with Steve Kelly and Loren Tate. Tune in to WDWS and listen from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m

3. Parkland women's basketball had the Region 24 Player of the Year (Alyssa Cole) and the Region 24 Coach of the Year (Jean Demosthenes). this season. Well done, Cobras.

02192024. Wrest final 13

Brody Cuppernell (left) and Hunter Eastin were two of the area's top high school wrestlers last season.

Numbers game: 58

Area high school wrestlers named to the 20th News-Gazette All-Area Teams in today's paper, highlighted by our Wrestler of the Year: Jack Barnhart by Centennial. This is the first of four all-area packages for the winter sports season. What's next? Boys' All-Area Swimming and Diving next Thursday, Girls' All-Area Basketball on April 13 and Boys' All-Area Basketball on April 20.

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Zach Edey helped Purdue beat Illinois twice this season and will try to lead the Boilermakers to their first NCAA title this weekend in Glendale, Arizona.

Crowd control

Three events that I pay attention to

1. Purdue vs. North Carolina State men's basketball. Zach Edey and the Boilermakers are trying to become the Big Ten's first national champion since Michigan State won it all in 2000. But they can upset NC State, with former Rantoul standing out Kareem Richardson an assistant coach, another madness?

2. Connecticut vs. Alabama men's basketball. The last time Illinois lost a regional final to an eventual national champion was against Loyola Chicago in 1963. We'll see if UConn wins it all by Monday night.

3. Illinois Men's Golf. The Illini are in Augusta, Georgia this weekend, a week before the Masters. They will tee off Saturday at the 54-hole Augusta Haskins Award Invitational, which ends Sunday.

Joe Hageman family

The Hageman family, from left: Jennifer, Evan, Joe, Payton and Jordan.

Coach's corner

Three questions for Salt Fork football and baseball coach Joe Hageman. He is in his first season as coach of the Storm baseball team, but Hageman has a 29-18 record and four Class 1A playoff berths in five seasons as coach of the Storm football team.

1. My favorite sports team is… the St Louis Blues.

2. Three trainers I would like to have dinner with are… Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and Bear Bryant.

3. My biggest pet peeve is… Cold and windy spring days during high school baseball season.