Players weren’t the only ones collecting memories Thursday at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline.
On the opening day of the Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball tournament, walking into the arena and settling into a front-row seat brought back all sorts of memories for the parent of one Indiana State player.
Kenny Battle, a standout on Illinois’ Flying Illini Final Four team who went on to play for four NBA teams, watched his daughter record a double-double for the Sycamores in a 79-77 opening-round loss to Valparaiso.
Ty Battle scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the same arena her father played in 24 years ago ago as a member of the Quad-City Thunder of the Continental Basketball Association.
"Lot of memories walking in here today. I have a lot of good memories of the CBA and a lot of good memories of the Quad-Cities," said Battle, who played for the Thunder one year after the team had moved into the new facility from its beginnings at Wharton Field House.
Battle, a first-round NBA draft selection in 1989 following Illinois’ run to the Final Four, had played for the Suns, Nuggets, Celtics and Warriors before seeing his first CBA experience in LaCrosse.
He joined the Thunder coached by Dan Panaggio in 1994 and has good memories of the experience.
"People here really liked their basketball. I can remember nights when there were 5,000, 6,000 people here to watch us," Battle said. "It was a well-run team, a well-run league, good competition. This was a great town to play in. The people were so good to us."
Battle’s game was built around hustle and intensity, earning him spots on the all-century teams at both Northern Illinois where he began his collegiate career and where it ended at Illinois.
At Illinois the Kenny Battle Inspirational Award is still presented to a player each season who brings the same type of approach to the game, Battle now wants his daughter to create the same good memories in the game that he continues to cherish.
"She’s having a good experience, having fun playing the game, and at the end of the day that is what you hope for," Battle said.
Ty Battle, the only daughter among Battle’s six children, has started 41 games over the past two seasons for Indiana State.
The 6-foot-1 forward topped her season averages of 7.5 points and 6.1 rebounds with her performance in the season-ending loss to Valparaiso but recorded her sixth double-double of the season.
First-year Sycamores coach Vicki Hall sees growth and room for more as she assesses Battle’s sophomore season.
"She’s coming along and has done a good job on the boards for us, but like a lot of our players, she has some work to do on defense," Hall said.
Kenny Battle welcomes the chance to watch that growth and create the same memories of being a part of a team that he has, memories he had a chance to share with teammates last month when members of Illinois’ 1989 Final Four team held a reunion.
"It was the first time in 30 years that we were all together in the same place at the same time. It was great seeing all those guys, getting a chance to talk and have a good time together," Battle said. "It hardly seems like it was that long ago. Time flies."
Thursday, Battle understood that as much as anybody.