1988-89 University of Illinois Men’s Team

Year Inducted: 2016

Category: Teams

Schools / Organizations: The University of Illinois

Biography: The 1988-89 Flyin’ Illini captivated the hearts of Illinois fans and the interest of the nation during a magical run to the NCAA Final Four.  The flyin’ Illlini were known for their up-tempo style, high-flying dunks, pressure defense, and athletic style of play.  The Illini topped the 100 point mark eight times, led by a school record 127 points scored in a victory at LSU that season.  As effective as Illinois was offensively, a trademark of Lou Henson’s teams was always suffocating defense.  The Flyin’ Illini continued that defensive tradition, but did so with an aggressive full court defense that featured pressing and trapping instead of Henson’s patented half-court man-to-man defense.  With so many athletic players at nearly the same height and the ability to exchange positions on the court, the Illini pushed opponents out of their comfort zones, forcing turnovers and grabbing a school record 341 steals.  The flyin’ Illini won 31 games in advancing to the school’s first Final Four since 19552.  Memorable victories that season included a buzzer-beater at Indiana, a double OT win over Geaorgia Tech that moved Illinois to #1 status nationally, a senior-day win over Iowa and wins over Louisville and Syracuse in the regional that allowed Illinois to advance to the Final Four.  The depth on that team was a key to its success with a normal rotation that included Nick Anderson, Kenny Battle, Kendall Gillm Lowell Hamilton, Marcus Liberty, Stephen Bardo, Larry Smith, PJ Bowman, and Ervin Small.

Team Members in the Picture:

Back row (L to R):  P.J.. Bowman, Eddie Manzke, Larry Smith, Brian O’Connell, Lou Aguilera, Nick Anderson, Lowell Hamilton, Marcus Liberty, Ervin Small, Stephen Bardo, Kenny Battle, Andy Kaufmann, Mike MacDonald, Kendall Gill, and Mark Shapland.

Front Row (L to R):  Graduate Assistant Scott Nagy, Assistant Coach Jimmy Collins, Head Coach Lou Henson, Assistant Coach Dick Nagy, Assistant Coach Mark Coomes.