Dick Luedke (right) interviews former Illinois State basketball standout Osiris Eldridge at courtside at Redbird Arena in Normal during an ISU game on Jan. 2, 2013. (Photo by B Corbin/WJBC)
By Eric Stock
WJBC's long-time Voice of the Illinois State Redbirds, Dick Luedke, has announced that he will miss up to one month of Redbird men's basketball this season as he undergoes open heart surgery to replace a heart valve.
Luedke said on WJBC this morning the heart valve damage stems from a bout of bacterial meningitis he suffered in 2008.
"It can do damage to your organs and it did to my heart valve. They detected that when I was in the hospital at (Advocate) BroMenn," Luedke said.
Luedke said he had considered waiting until the end of the season to have the surgery done.
"(Doctors) said 'You could get away with that,' but then the more I thought about that, the more I thought let's get it done with," Luedke said.
Luedke was the play-by-play voice for Illinois State men's basketball and football games from 1981 to 1998 as WJBC's Sports Director. After leaving WJBC full-time, he returned to the mic in 2003. This is his 27th season calling ISU games.
Luedke, an avid runner, said his surgeon told him he can continue his regular exercise regiment, once he recovers.
Luedke said he plans to be back behind for mic for the Feb. 13 game vs. Bradley. WJBC's R.C. McBride and Eric Stock will fill in for Luedke during the games and Dan Muller Shows that he will miss.
Luedke said he believes ISU's recent struggles stem from a lack of confidence, which started to develop after the Creighton loss.
"That was a pretty good performance by the Redbirds, not good enough to beat one of the best teams in the country and then two real clunkers in a row (against Northern Iowa and Missouri State) and I think they've just lost their confidence. I think 0-2 might have gotten to them a little bit psychologically.
Luedke also reminds Redbird fans of a conversation WJBC's Bryan Bloodworth had with former ISU coach Kevin Stallings, who tried to tamp down any unreasonable expectations coming into this season.
"Kevin pointed out that the Redbirds were a basketball or so away from having to play on Thursday night (in the play-in round) of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament," Luedke said.
The Illinois State men look to end a four-game losing streak when they host Drake at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Eric Stock can be reached at email@example.com.