Vandy, Illinois to launch two-year basketball series

Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 2:21am

Vanderbilt and Illinois will launch a two-year basketball series in the 2008-09 season, Commodores coach Kevin Stallings told The City Paper.

Although a contract has not been signed, Illinois is tentatively scheduled to visit Vanderbilt on Nov. 17. The Commodores will play in Champaign, Ill., during the 2009-10 season.

Vandebilt and Illinois have played six times, most recently during the 1992-93 season. The Fighting Illini lead the series 4-2.

Stallings calls Illinois coach Bruce Weber “my best friend in the coaching profession” but said there was no hesitation in scheduling a series partly because both teams will be in transition seasons.

“We’re both entering into a series where either team can win,” Stallings said. “It’s a good game for them and a good game for us.”

Stallings expects a contract between the schools to be finalized soon.

“We’re going to play unless Bruce or I decide we don’t want to, and that’s not likely,” he said.

Vanderbilt also recently scheduled Morehead State for a home game during the 2008-09 season. The Commodores will travel to Massachusetts and Georgia Tech. The rest of the non-conference slate has yet to be announced.

Vanderbilt is due a home game against DePaul after playing the Blue Demons last season in Chicago, but the return game will not be played until Dec. 5, 2009.

The Commodores are also scheduled to play in the 2009 Maui Invitational.

ALL’S QUIET: The spring signing period for high-school basketball seniors opened Wednesday, but the Vanderbilt fax machines remained quiet.

VU’s top recruiting targets, forward Jeff Taylor of Hobbs, N.M., and guard Brad Tinsley of Oregon City, Ore., have yet to announce their intentions.

Taylor is expected to sign with either Vanderbilt or Texas next week, while Tinsley will make more visits to other schools before making a decision.

NOT SO FAST: The first Music City All-Star basketball game, to be played Saturday at Tennessee State University’s Gentry Center, won’t have quite as much star power as advertised.

Game organizer Ceci Shell of the Prosperidad Management Co. in Nashville said Wednesday that former Tennessee star guard Chris Lofton was scheduled to play, but Lofton told The City Paper on Wednesday through UT spokesman Craig Pinkerton that he will not play.

In addition, former Vanderbilt standout Shan Foster, the 2008 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, was invited but told The City Paper he declined.

Former Commodores Ross Neltner and Alan Metcalfe also said no. Shell said former VU guard Alex Gordon is scheduled to play, but attempts to reach Gordon on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Shell said other players scheduled to play Saturday include Justin Hare of Belmont; Eddie Ard of Lipscomb; Andre Allen of Memphis; Andrae Belton, Riley Ervin, LaDarious Weaver, Moraye Ivy and Bruce Price of TSU; and Collins Onyando and Josh Helton of Trevecca Nazarene.

Players from UT-Martin, Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech are also scheduled to appear.

A 3-point shooting contest and dunk contest will be held before the game and begin at 5 p.m.

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