Women's Basketball
WBB Game 20 Notes: Illini Host Michigan Thursday Night

Adrienne GodBold and the Illini host Michigan Thursday night.
Adrienne GodBold and the Illini host Michigan Thursday night.

Jan. 27, 2010

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Game 20 - Michigan (11-8, 3-6) at Illinois (11-8, 3-6)

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 // 7 p.m. // Assembly Hall (16,618) // Champaign, Ill.

On The Air
Streaming Video: video.BigTenNetwork.com ($2.99)
Radio: Illini Sports Network - WDWS AM-1400 and WDAN AM-1490 (Dave Loane and Mike Koon)
Streaming Audio: fightingillini.com All-Access
Livestats: GameTracker

The Series
Illinois leads 39-22 overall and 20-7 in Champaign
Last meeting: Michigan 52, Illinois 44 on Jan. 8, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Coaches
Illinois: Jolette Law, 41-44 overall and at Illinois (3rd season)
Michigan: Kevin Borseth, 546-252 overall (28th season) and 40-42 at Michigan (3rd season)

Thursday's Promotion
Grad Student Night: Grad students get in free with UIUC ID and can purchase additional tickets for friends and family for $2 per person.

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Quick Hits
• The Game: The Fighting Illini (11-8, 3-6 Big Ten) have dropped four straight and are looking to right the ship this Thursday when Michigan (11-8, 3-6) comes to Assembly Hall. Illinois is coming off a 70-66 road defeat to Penn State, while the Wolverines topped Indiana at home, 70-56, on Sunday, meaning the two teams enter Thursday's clash with identical records. It will be the only regular season meeting between the Illini and Wolverines this year.

• Double-Dipping: Senior All-American Jenna Smith leads the Big Ten and ranks second nationally with 13 double-doubles this season. She is already Illinois' career double-doubles record holder with 45.

• Rare Company: Smith is one of just three players in the nation to rank in the top-20 in both scoring and rebounding. Smith is 13th nationally in rebounding (10.9 rpg) and 19th in scoring (19.3 ppg) to join Middle Tennessee State's Alysha Clark and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender in the top-20 of both rankings.

• Queen of the Boards: Smith became Illinois' career rebounding leader Jan. 17 at Wisconsin. With a career total of 1,037 boards entering Thursday's game, Smith ranks as the eighth-best rebounder in Big Ten women's history and is the top male or female rebounder in Illinois history, ahead of both Cindy Dallas' women's record of 1,014 and James Augustine's men's record of 1,023.

• Simpson Goes Over 1,000: Senior Lacey Simpson went over the 1,000 career point milestone last Thursday against Iowa, becoming the 23rd player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-point barrier. She enters this Thursday's game with 1,015 points, which is good for 22nd on the UI all-time scoring list.

• Illini Have Strong RPI: Illinois ranks 35th in the Jan. 26 CollegeRPI.com rankings and has the 13th toughest schedule in the nation according to the site. Thursday's opponent, Penn State, is 48th in the CollegeRPI.com list. In the most recent NCAA RPI ratings (Jan. 25), the Illini also came in at No. 35.

• Block Party in the USA: Led by the frontcourt trio of Jenna Smith (1.6 bpg), Karisma Penn (1.7 bpg) and Lacey Simpson (1.4 bpg), Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in blocked shots at 5.8 per game. Smith is already the school's career blocks leader with 191 and Simpson ranks third with 145, while Penn is on pace to shatter the UI freshman blocks record of 39 that Smith and Simpson currently share. The Illini have swatted away 110 shots on the season compared to just 45 for their opponents.

Scouting the Wolverines
Entering Thursday, Michigan has an identical record to Illinois, standing at 11-8 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten. The Wolverines are coming off of a 70-56 home win over Indiana on Sunday, where junior guard Veronica Hicks scored a career-high 24 points. Prior to the win over the Hoosiers', Michigan had lost three straight. UM played two close games against No. 4 Ohio State, however, losing 59-56 to the Buckeyes in Columbus and 58-56 at home. Five of Michigan's 11 wins this year have come on the road.

Michigan features a balanced offensive attack, with four starters averaging 9.2 points or more per game, led by Hicks' 13.1 ppg. Guard Dayeesha Hollins is one of the top freshmen in the Big Ten, averaging 12.6 points per game, while sophomore Carmen Reynolds is shooting 42 percent (39-92) for the year on three-pointers. As a team, the Wolverines average 6.63 three-pointers per game, ranking second in the Big Ten. They are led by Kevin Borseth, who is in third season at Michigan and his 28th season overall as a head coach.

• The Illinois-Michigan Series: Illinois owns a 39-22 advantage over Michigan in the all-time series, including a 20-7 record in games played in Champaign. The Wolverines have won two consecutive games against the Illini, however, including a 55-52 victory at Assembly Hall on Feb. 24, 2008. Prior to the last two meetings, the Illini had won seven straight against UM. Illinois last beat Michigan in Champaign on Feb. 1, 2007.

Watch Out for Jenna
• Back to Normal: Senior Jenna Smith has been back to her usual self during the last two games after having two subpar efforts following a hamstring injury suffered in the first minute of the game at Ohio State on Jan. 14. During the rest of the OSU game and the Jan. 17 Wisconsin game, Smith was just 3-of-13 from the field for 13 points, combined, while showing obvious effects from the injury. In the last two games, however, she has gone for 23 points and 12 boards (Iowa on Jan. 21) and 24 points and 10 rebounds (at Penn State on Jan. 24) as she gets closer to 100 percent.

• Join the Club: Smith is one of just four players nationally to average over 19 points and 10 rebounds per game. With averages of 19.3 ppg and 10.9 rpg, Smith joins Middle Tennessee State's Alysha Clark, Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender as the only members of the 19-10 club.

• Smith Among All-Time Big Ten Elite: With 1,912 career points and 1,037 career rebounds, Smith is just the fifth player in Big Ten history to reach both the 1,900-point and 1,000-rebound milestones. Only Laura Coenen (Minnesota), Jessica Davenport (Ohio State), Tracey Hall (Ohio State) and Denise Jackson (Indiana) have accomplished the feat since the official inception of Big Ten women's basketball in 1982-83.

• Making Her Point: Smith's 24 points Sunday against Penn State moved her up to third on the UI career scoring list, passing Lisa Robinson (1,906 points from 1978-82). With 1,912 points, she is now 178 points shy of breaking Ashley Berggren's Illinois career scoring record of 2,089 points. With a minimum of 10 games left, Smith needs to average 17.8 points per game the rest of the way to become the school's all-time scoring leader.

• Record Breaker: Smith is already the Illinois career leader in rebounds (1,037), blocked shots (191) and double-doubles (45), and has a good chance to top the scoring and field goals made list as well. Take a look at Illinois all-time records Smith has a chance to break this season:

Smith in the Illini Record Book
Stat              Total    Rank    Record    Needs 
Rebounds          1,037     1      1,037       -
Blocks             191      1       191        -
Double-Doubles      45      1        45        -
Points            1,912     3      2,089      178
FG Made            723      4       815        93
• Extending Her Range: Smith has always had a soft touch from outside the paint, but this year she has stepped outside more than ever before with much success. The 6-3 center has made a career-high 15 three-pointers so far this season and is hitting a respectable 36.6 percent of her treys. In Big Ten play she has been even better, hitting threes at a 40.9 percent clip, which ranks fourth in the league.

• Toe-ing the Line: One of the most overlooked parts of Smith's game has been her free throw shooting. Smith currently ranks second on the Illinois career free throws made list as she is now 435-for-546 (.797) for her career. Ashley Berggren is Illinois' all-time leader with 562 makes. Smith currently sits in sixth place on the UI all-time FT percentage list with her 79.7 clip.

Simpson Steals the Show
• Simpson Does It All: Senior Lacey Simpson is widely known for her defense and versatility. This year, however, she has diversified her game even more. Playing more at her natural wing position, she's taking her habit of filling the stat sheet to another level as she's averaging 9.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, a team-high 4.0 assists and Big Ten-leading 3.2 steals per game, all while usually guarding the top offensive player from the opposing team. She ranks in the top-12 in the conference in nine categories (steals, assists, assist-TO ratio, defensive rebounds, 3FG percentage, overall FG percentage, blocks, minutes and rebounds).

• Simpson Does It All: Simpson one of just three players in Illinois history to amass over 1,000 points, 700 rebounds and 200 steals in a career. She joints Illini greats Tauja Catchings and Cindy Dallas on the elite list.

• Assault on the Record Book: More evidence of Simpson's all-around prowess can be found in the Illinois record book. She already cracks the career top-3 in three different categories and is in the top-10 in four. She currently is the program's all-time steals leader (315), ranks third in blocked shots (145) and assists (399) and eighth in rebounds (792). She's also climbing up both the three point field goals list (12th) and scoring list (22).

• Outside Improvement: Known primarily for her defense, Simpson worked hard on her offensive game in the offseason, particularly her outside shot. That work has paid off during her senior campaign, as she's shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from downtown. Simpson made just eight threes all of last season (she has 21 this year) and shot 39 percent overall and 22 percent from behind the arc in 2008-09.

Fresh Impact
This year's highly-touted freshman class was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation coming out of high school. The frosh have lived up to their billing so far, as they've combined to average 20.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Orange and Blue, even without Amber Moore (ACL injury) making an impact.

Karisma Penn and Adrienne GodBold have made the biggest impact thus far. Penn, a 6-2 forward, is averaging 11.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game and has already picked-up three Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards, most recently on Jan. 4 after hitting the game-winning lay-up to top Wisconsin at the buzzer. She had her first career double-double on Dec. 31 against Penn State with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and has scored a career-high 21 points twice thus far, first on Nov. 22 over Bradley and most recently on Jan. 14 at Ohio State.

Godbold, meanwhile, is a 5-11 guard averaging 6.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. She had a game-winning three point play with 10 seconds left in the win over Minnesota on Jan. 10. Earlier in the season, she scored a career-high 15 points and had three steals in the Illini's win over Oakland on Dec. 19 and recently she had a solid game at Indiana with 11 points and five boards. She has also been key defensively for the Orange and Blue, taking some of the defensive load off of Lacey Simpson.

Illinois in the NCAA Rankings
In the most recent NCAA rankings (Jan. 25) Illinois ranks in the national top-25 in blocks per game, while Fighting Illini individuals crack the top-100 in nine categories, including four in the top-20 as Jenna Smith is second in double-doubles, 13th in rebounding and 19th in scoring, while Lacey Simpson is 12th in steals. Here is the list...

Team Category    Rank    Stat    
Blocked Shots    12      5.8

Indiv. Category Player Rank Stat Double-doubles Jenna Smith 2 13 Steals per game Lacey Simpson 12 3.2 Rebounds per game Jenna Smith 13 10.9 Points per game Jenna Smith 19 19.3 Assist-TO ratio Lacey Simpson 34 1.92 FT Percentage Jenna Smith 41 .848 FG Percentage Jenna Smith 50 .504 Blocks per game Karisma Penn 65 1.7 Blocks per game Jenna Smith 80 1.6