Big Ten

Rutgers announces Steve Pikiell as new head basketball coach

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Rutgers announces Steve Pikiell as new head basketball coach

Rutgers officially has a new head basketball coach.

Steve Pikiell, who spent the past 11 seasons as the head coach at Stony Brook, was announced as the Scarlet Knights' new head man on Tuesday.

“This is a dream job for me,” Pikiell said in the school's announcement. “I am so excited about the vision that (athletics director) Pat (Hobbs) has for Rutgers athletics, and I’m very fortunate to be a part of it. There is so much potential here. Rutgers has all the ingredients — great location, great university, great people and a great conference. When evaluating the position, it checked all the boxes for me. I look forward to building a program that the Rutgers community will be proud of.”

Pikiell amassed a 192-156 record at Stony Brook, completely turning around a Seawolves program that has only been playing in Division-I since 1999. He won four games in his first season as head coach but built the program into a four-time America East regular-season conference champion, winning at least 22 games in each of the last five seasons. This year, he led Stony Brook to 26 wins, both regular-season and conference-tournament conference championships and the program's first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

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Rutgers is need of a similar turnaround. The Knights fired Eddie Jordan after three seasons, and the first two seasons of Big Ten competition have been miserable, with the team winning just three of 36 regular-season conference contests. This season, Rutgers won just seven games, the lowest single-season win total since the 1987-88 season.

“Everywhere Steve Pikiell has been, he’s won,” Hobbs said in the announcement. “But most impressive, is that everywhere he’s been, they started at the bottom and rose to the top. He will bring that same dedication and energy to build a successful program at Rutgers. That work has already begun.”

Prior to arriving at Stony Brook, Pikiell was an assistant at George Washington, Central Connecticut State, Yale and Connecticut. Pikiell played his college basketball at Connecticut from 1987 to 1991, reaching the Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen in his final two seasons, respectively.

With Rutgers' firing of Jordan and former head football coach Kyle Flood and hiring of Pikiell and Chris Ash, Hobbs has established new regimes in each of the two most high-profile sports in his department.

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.