Illinois looks to 'Spike the Record' at Illini Madness
Aug. 3, 2009
Champaign, Ill. -
Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber and volleyball coach Kevin Hambly are combining forces for what promises to be an historic event - "Spike the Record at Illini Madness." In conjunction with Illini Madness, signaling the start of 2009-10 basketball season, Illinois volleyball will be striving to break the NCAA attendance record for its match with Minnesota. At the same time, the basketball team is looking for its best attendance mark at Illini Madness. Both events will take place on Friday, Oct. 16 at Assembly Hall.
Both coaches have been extremely supportive of each other's programs through their times at Illinois. Each year Weber plays a visible role during the Illini's Annual "Stuff Huff" event, for example.
Illinois volleyball will be making its first appearance at Assembly Hall. The Illini and Gophers, who both promise to be pre-season top 10 teams in 2009, will square off at 6:30 pm. Under the direction of former Olympic Assistant Coach Hambly, Illinois returns six starters from the 2008 NCAA Sweet 16 team, including second-team All-American Laura DeBruler. The Gophers, under former Illini and legendary coach Mike Hebert, join Illinois as potential contenders to dethrone two-time NCAA titlist Penn State as Big Ten champions.
Last season both North Carolina and Purdue attempted the dual events. The Clemson at North Carolina match drew 13,797 fans, a new NCAA record, while the Wisconsin at Purdue match drew 10,570. Illinois is vying to shatter North Carolina's mark from a year ago.
"This is a very exciting day for our program," Hambly said. "The level of administrative and community support needed to achieve a record like this speaks volumes to the confidence each has in this event. There are few basketball programs in the country that have supported women's volleyball the way Bruce Weber and his team has over the years. His involvement with our `Stuff Huff' event -- flipping burgers, playing 3-on-3 games and hanging out with the fans before our volleyball match -- has certainly turned it into one the most unique and exciting events in the country. To then work with his program again, in the same season, with the `Spike the Record' event shows how extraordinary he is on this campus."
Part II of the evening's act features the Fighting men's and women's basketball teams unveiling for the 2009-10 season. There is buzz about both programs heading into the season, both centering on highly ranked recruiting classes. Bruce Weber invites an impressive foursome, including 2009 Illinois Mr. Basketball Brandon Paul. Illinois is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance and a 24-win season. The women's recruiting class is ranked third in the nation, led by USA Junior National team member Destiny Williams. The Illini Madness attendance record is 12,000.
"This will be an exciting event for our fans," Weber said. "We are looking forward to the upcoming season, and we're hoping to get off to a great start by showcasing Illini Basketball Madness in front of the largest crowd in school history. This also serves as a unique opportunity to support our nationally-ranked volleyball team as they make history by playing in Assembly Hall in front of what also should be a record crowd, making for a memorable evening for all Illini fans."
Over 125,000 free tickets will be distributed throughout the Champaign area, but only the first 16,600 with a ticket in hand will be guaranteed a seat. Therefore fans are encouraged to be at the doors when they open at 5:30 pm that evening. Seats near the floor will be reserved for Orange Krush and Spike Squad members, which will help generate a high level of energy near the playing floor.
Illinois basketball promotions have won National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators gold in each of the last two years (pink shirt Illini Madness and World's Biggest Basketball Practice).