Sports

A Pipeline Everyone’s Happy About: Peoria's Basketball Pipeline

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Peoria is synonymous with basketball. Basketball is synonymous with Peoria. Because of this, there is an unofficial pipeline between Peoria and our state’s university in Champaign. On this week’s “The Journey” – a feature program on the Big Ten Network – this pipeline is highlighted.

You won’t want to miss this wonderful depiction of the recent history of nearly 20 continuous years of a representative on the Fighting Illini men’s basketball lineup hailing from the Heart of Illinois. Interviews include former Illini Jerry Hester, current Illini DJ Richardson and WEEK/WHOI-TV’s Jim Mattson. This segment can be seen in the first 15 minutes of the program, which is airing various times throughout the week.

The Peoria segment comes right after an in-depth look at the Indiana Hoosiers victory over the Michigan Wolverines on Groundhog’s Day. A victory that put the Hoosiers into the #1 spot in the country, only to be upended by the aforementioned Illini this past Thursday. That’s the way the ball bounces.

It’s been a wild year in college hoops and it’s not even March! Just ask Notre Dame and Louisville who battled for five overtimes until the Irish squeezed out the hard-fought victory. Saturday’s marathon game was one for the record books as it was the longest game in Big East regular season history. If you’re struggling to find the connection with this historic Big East hardwood battle with the Peoria Pipeline, that’s probably because you are thinking about the players on the court. Savvy hoops fan might have noticed that during numerous timeouts throughout the five extra periods, as the referees met to discuss a close call or review the replay, a woman was often on camera sitting at the scorer’s table. That woman was Monica Cundiff, Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Notre Dame. Cundiff, also, was (and is) a part of the Peoria Pipeline as she went from Spalding High School to Assembly Hall playing for the women’s basketball Illini team back in the early 1990s.

This certainly brings the story full circle. And it’s true; when it comes to basketball, all roads do lead to Peoria. Well, at least Interstate 74. To learn more about this pipeline from P-Town to Urbana-Champaign, watch “The Journey” this week on Big Ten Network. Check your local listings.

About the Author
He has a sports podcast! He’s in TV commercials! He takes care of people's eyes! That’s what you call a triple threat. And since he’s like 6’6” he can also get things off the top shelf when the Peorian can’t reach them. So make that a quadruple threat.