Illinois basketball notebook: Tisdale recovering from surgery

John Supinie

Illinois sophomore center Mike Tisdale endured a nearly painless injury.

Not only did he feel more numbness than pain from the muscle herniation in his right calf that had sidelined him for almost two weeks, it came well before the grind of the Big Ten Conference basketball season.

Tisdale, the former Riverton High School All-Stater, plans to return to active duty by the first week of the practice season, he said Tuesday. Tisdale underwent surgery Sept. 25. The Illini begin practice Oct. 17.

"I get the stitches out Thursday and should be ready for more rehab,'' Tisdale said. "I would really like to have gone through conditioning to get back in shape, but I think it was better to do it now than during the season. I'm already in better shape than I was last year.''

The muscle ruptured and formed a knot that put pressure on a nerve, causing numbness in Tisdale's right foot. The injury is more often found in runners, but medical staff told Tisdale they had seen that type of injury about five times in the last 20 years.

He could have rested the injury, but concern over it worsening in the season led to surgery. Tisdale rides a stationary bike and uses other cardiovascular machines, and trainers try to keep the swelling down with massages on Tisdale's lower leg.

The 7-foot-1 Tisdale weighs about 240 pounds, roughly a 35-pound gain since he arrived on campus in June 2007.

Outdoor court

Illinois gets a jump on basketball season after the Illinois-Minnesota football game Saturday with the World's Largest Basketball Practice at Memorial Stadium, a gimmick used to drum up support for the program and raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer.

After other schools such as Kentucky also used the same loophole in the NCAA rulebook to hold early midnight madness events, the NCAA is expected to pass legislation on preseason practice to exclude public events.

After selling pink Illini T-shirts last season that raised $50,000 and created more awareness of breast cancer, "we had to figure out something to top that,'' coach Bruce Weber said. "It caused more excitement than we anticipated nationally. We hadn't intended to make it like we're starting practice early or to get a recruiting advantage. That wasn't the thought process.

"It was a nice promotion for the program, create some excitement, get students involved and the Coaches vs. Cancer tie in with the Zook Zone towel.''

The towel is named after football coach Ron Zook, with a percentage of proceeds going to the cancer fund. Like others such as Kentucky, West Virginia and Marshall, Illinois will use the two hours the NCAA gives coaches to work with players each week from Sept. 15 to Oct. 17 for a basketball event open to the public.

The official start of basketball practice is Oct. 17.

Immediately following the football game, the Illinois program will feature a co-ed shooting contest between the men's and women's teams in a limited 30-minute session on a portable court placed between the horseshoe and the south end zone. Rain would force a cancellation.

Henson endowment

Orange Krush the Illinois student cheering section and fundraising group, has pledged $500,000 toward the Lou Henson Coaching Development Fund.

Created to support those entering the coaching profession as graduate assistants, directors of basketball operations and video coordinators, the fund would help young professionals meet living expenses.

Orange Krush has already allocated $120,00 from money raised last year.

"This is a great way to fund the position,'' Henson said. "At a lot to schools, they're not funded. This will be quite an addition to the athletic department, the program and the university. We appreciate this very, very much.''


Senior guard Chester Fraizer arrived at a workout at the Ubben Basketball Complex Tuesday with his hair cut short, the first time in four years that he's not worn braids. "It's my new image . . . Tiger Woods,'' Frazier said.

 John Supinie can be reached at