Big Ten

Between a missed goaltend and Chris Collins' technical foul, late sequence proves costly for Northwestern

Between a missed goaltend and Chris Collins' technical foul, late sequence proves costly for Northwestern

SALT LAKE CITY — Like any college basketball coach, Chris Collins can show a lot of emotion toward officials during a game.

But late in Saturday's NCAA tournament matchup with Gonzaga, Collins saw a Gonzaga defender stick his arm through the basket to block a shot and heard no whistle, prompting a special kind of reaction.

Collins ran out on to the court while play was going on and started screaming at the official, earning himself a technical foul in the process.

"I wasn't trying to get a technical," Collins said after the game ended in a 79-73 loss for Northwestern and the team's elimination from the NCAA tournament. "I saw someone go through the rim and block a shot. I've been playing basketball since I was five years old. To me that's a goaltend. And I saw it. So the game kept going on, I got excited. I wasn't doing anything other than reacting to something that I saw blatantly."

Collins took tons of heat on social media for what ended up a pretty costly technical foul.

Northwestern had scored six straight to cut what had at one point been a 20-point second-half deficit all the way down to five. The pro-Cats crowd was going nuts, cranking up the volume as all the momentum was on Northwestern's side. But the missed goaltend plus the two free throws Gonzaga hit off the technical foul turned what could've been a three-point game into a seven-point game, and the Bulldogs never led by fewer than five the remainder of the game.

"It was disappointing because we were still in the game," Northwestern point guard Bryant McIntosh said. "You don't fault him for it. It was a missed call. Looking back, I understand it. He did, he lost his mind. You can't fault him for it. But it was just, 'No, we're in the game, don't,' but it's part of it. You can't fault him because he's standing up for us at the end of the day. Can't be too upset with that."

The NCAA released a statement after the game admitting that the officials missed the goaltend, not that there needed to be official messaging for people to know that.

And while the sequence came at a critical juncture, with the Cats making a huge run to erase a gargantuan lead, it would still be foolish to suggest that it was what determined the outcome.

Northwestern was abysmal on the offensive end in the first half, trailing by as many as 22 during the opening 20 minutes and by 18 at halftime. The best way to avoid the game turning on one late sequence would've been to not have dug such a deep hole in the first place.

But, yes, it's also not difficult to imagine the game ending differently had the missed call and the technical foul not happened.

"I thought we were in a great position, and I really felt if we got that bucket to cut it to three, there was four minutes to go, the crowd was into it, I thought we were in a great rhythm, we had a lot of momentum. I thought we were going to win, I really did, all the way until the last minute," Collins said. "I really thought our guys were going to find a way because that's the way we've been all year."

Despite mocking a shocked face throughout a reading of the NCAA's statement during his postgame press conference, Collins also said that he had to live with the calls — and the lack of calls — made by the officials, even if he wasn't quite through with his sarcasm.

"It's a very easy call, in my opinion. But it's an honest mistake," Collins said. "Referees are human beings, they're here for a reason, because they're outstanding officials. They made the calls. We have to live with them.

"They made the calls. It is what it is. They issued a statement. I appreciate the apology. It makes me feel great."

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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USA TODAY

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.