Chicago's Big Ten ballers talk hoops, bobsledding and movies

  • Nnanna Egwu and Illinois tangle with Northwestern this weekend.
Nnanna Egwu and Illinois tangle with Northwestern this weekend. (Scott Strazzante / Chicago…)
January 09, 2014|By Courtney Linehan, @courtneylinehan

The battle for Illinois returns to Chicago this weekend. Northwestern hosts Illinois in men's basketball on Sunday in a rivalry that has grown in intensity. RedEye caught up with several Chicago-area natives on the Wildcats and Illini to talk basketball, bobsledding and "The Mighty Ducks."

What makes your school Chicago's Big Ten team?

Dave Sobolewski, Northwestern junior guard: Being able to get to Chicago with a short car or train ride, Northwestern truly has the world's greatest city at its fingertips. The support we've gotten from alums and fans downtown has been fantastic.

Drew Crawford, Northwestern senior guard: Northwestern represents Chicago in the Big Ten whether we are playing at home or on the road. We love the city of Chicago and we love to play for it.

Would LeBron James beat 1990s Michael Jordan in one-on-one?

DS: No. M.J. is still the GOAT [greatest of all time], and the best competitor we've ever seen.

DC: LeBron would not beat 1990s Michael Jordan in one-on-one because MJ scored even when the defense was great. He could play back to the basket, shoot and get to the rim and finish. What's most special about LeBron is his ability to make his team better, not his one-on-one skills.

Tracy Abrams, Illinois junior guard: No way. M.J. is the best player of all time. He was in his prime in the '90s, so no way LeBron would beat him.

Nnanna Egwu, Illinois senior forward: Absolutely not. LeBron's a great player, but Jordan is the best player ever to play the game, both mentally and physically. Jordan would lock him down, and would get to the basket whenever he wanted.

Will Derrick Rose lead the Bulls to an NBA championship?

DS: It's possible. A healthy D-Rose with a strong supporting cast has shown the ability to take on the top teams in the league.

DC: As a Bulls fan I have faith that Derrick Rose will lead the Bulls to an NBA championship. When he is healthy, he has the capability of leading a team as one of the most athletic point guards to ever play the game.

TA: Yes, no question. He'll come back from the injury stronger than ever and will be on a mission to win a ring.

NE: Yes. I like the moves the Bulls are making and how they're positioning themselves to add another big-time player. When that happens, I feel like we'll be getting a championship in the next two or three years.

If you were in the Winter Olympics, what would your sport be?

DS: Bobsledding. Snowboarding and skiing don't treat me very well.

DC: If I were in the Winter Olympics, I would be involved in the sport in which I could wear the biggest coat.

TA: Ski jump, or whatever it's called. I've done that in video games, and I'm nice.

NE: Hard to say, since I don't even know what sports there are in the winter Olympics.

What's the best warm-weather location where you've played a game?

DS: Charleston, S.C., for the Charleston Classic in 2011. Our team had a great time roaming the city and made some incredible memories. Oh yeah, it always helps when you win the tournament too.

DC: The best warm-weather location where I've played a game was Italy in the summer. It was the summer of 2010 when we went as a team to play four games in 10 days.

TA: Maui last season for sure because we won the championship. It was a great feeling being there celebrating with my teammates. I'm going back there when I'm rich, haha.

NE: Maui last year. But not because of the beach or the weather, because we won the title.

What's the best winter sports movie: "Cool Runnings," "Happy Gilmore" or "The Mighty Ducks"?

DS: "Mighty Ducks." Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack. Go Ducks!

DC: "D2: The Mighty Ducks" is the best winter sports movie.

TA: "Mighty Ducks." They started at the bottom and came off at the top.

NE: "Happy Gilmore." It's hilarious, there are so many good quotes in it; the ones I'm thinking of I can't say in a newspaper though.

Which Big Ten arena—other than your own—has the most creative student section?

DS: Believe it or not, Penn State's students were the most creative. They had done their research, chanting about my mom's former job with Ty Warner and Beanie Babies. They even knew the exact date she met Princess Diana.

DC: Michigan State is pretty creative. They have called more than one of my teammates Justin Bieber in the past.

TA: Michigan State. I can't think of anything specific, it's just the Izzone and the energy they bring, they're on you the whole game.

NE: Michigan State. Their students get personal, they do their homework and are on you the whole game.

What's your favorite pregame meal?

DS: Maggiano's. The pasta dish can change game to game, but their food always gets me ready for a game the next day.

DC: We always eat pregame meals in the hotel before the game, but unfortunately we don't get to pick what we eat. It is usually grilled chicken, vegetables and pasta with marinara sauce.

If you had to be snowbound in another Big Ten town for a night, which would you choose?

DS: I've got to admit, it would be in Champaign. Although our rivals this weekend, I've always had great times visiting Illinois. Reilly O'Toole [Illinois' quarterback], Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu have always been great hosts.

DC: We hardly ever leave the hotel on road trips, so I would want to be snowbound in the city with the best hotel. I would have to say that is the Marriott in downtown Minneapolis. It's too cold to leave the hotel anyway.

TA: Evanston, because I feel like even if it was snowing, I could make it out and get home to Englewood and see my family.

NE: I've got to follow Tracy's lead and say Evanston. I'd call my mom and have her come get me and take me to South Holland.

Fill in the blank: My coach's favorite thing to yell during practice is ___ .

DS: "Get in there, ball!"

Courtney Linehan is RedEye's managing editor for content.

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page

RedEye Chicago Articles
|
|
|