Macie Blinn and the Illini host Northwestern Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Feb. 10, 2010
Armed Forces and Safety Night: $2 admission with ID for all branches of military, ROTC, fire fighters, police and paramedics.
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: fightingillini.com Gametracker
Northwestern leads 31-29 overall, but Illinois leads 15-13 in Champaign
Streak: Illinois has won 19 straight overall vs. NU and eight straight in Champaign
Last Meeting: Illinois 60, Northwestern 46 on Feb. 12, 2009 in Champaign
Illinois: Jolette Law, 42-47 overall and at Illinois (3rd season)
NU: Joe McKeown, 530-206 overall (24th season) and 21-32 at Northwestern (2nd season)
The Game: The Fighting Illini (12-11, 4-9 Big Ten) are looking to snap a two-game skid when they host the Northwestern Wildcats (14-9, 5-7) Thursday night. Illinois is coming off a home loss to Indiana on Sunday, while NU had a bye over the weekend after topping Michigan last week at home. Thursday's game is the first match-up of the season between the in-state foes, as Illinois will close the season at Northwestern on Feb. 28 at 2 p.m.
Coaching Connection: Illini assistant coach Lisa Cermignano will see a familiar face sidelines in Northwestern head coach Joe McKeown. Cermignano was a star player under McKeown at George Washington University from 1993-97 and then was an assistant coach on McKeown's staff at GW from 2001-06. Cermignano is in her first season at Illinois, while McKeown is in his second season with the Wildcats.
Smith Among All-Time Big Ten Elite: Senior All-American Jenna Smith is just the second player in Big Ten history to reach 1,900+ career points, 1,000+ career rebounds and 200+ career blocks. With 1,954 points, 1,087 boards and 207 blocks, Smith joins former Ohio State center Jessica Davenport (2004-07) in the exclusive club.
Queen of the Boards: Jenna Smith has been a monster on the glass, leading the Big Ten in rebounding virtually all season. She pulled down a career-high 20 boards vs. Indiana on Sunday and is quickly climbing up the Big Ten career rebounding list. She became Illinois' career rebounding leader Jan. 17 and enters Thursday's game with 1,087 career boards, making her the eighth-best rebounder in Big Ten women's history. She can move up to sixth with eight boards vs. NU.
Iron Women: Lacey Simpson recently became Illinois' all-time leader in games played as she currently has 124, topping the old record of 122. Jenna Smith is close behind with 119 games played and is also tied atop the UI career starts list with 110 along with Tauja Catchings and Lisa Bradley.
Simpson Climbing BT Steals List: With two steals against Indiana on Sunday, Lacey Simpson moved up to ninth on the Big Ten career steals list with 324. Already the Illinois career steals leader, Simpson is just two behind Yvette Angel (Ohio State, 1982-85) for eighth and three behind Keisha Anderson (Wisconsin 1994-97) and Katie Douglas (Purdue 1998-01) for fifth on the all-time Big Ten list. Simpson leads the Big Ten and is 15th nationally in steals at 3.0 per game. During conference play she has been even better, averaging a league-best 3.15 thefts per contest.
Block Party in the USA: The Fighting Illini have racked up 141 blocks this season compared to just 50 for their opponents. On Feb. 4 at Purdue, Illinois blocked a single-game school record 12 shots, with Jenna Smith leading the way with a career-high and school-record seven swats. For the season, Illinois ranks seventh in the nation and second in the Big Ten at 6.1 bpg.
Penn Nearing Frosh Record: With 38 blocks this season, Karisma Penn is just one behind the Illinois freshman blocks record of 39 that is shared by Jenna Smith and Lacey Simpson. Smith has gone on to become the school's career blocks leader with 207, while Simpson ranks third with 148 swats.
Magrum Thriving in Starting Role: Since earning a spot in the starting lineup four games ago, freshman Kersten Magrum has stepped-up to average 7.3 points per game. She had six points in her first career start Jan. 28 vs. Michigan and then had six again last Jan. 31 at Minnesota before exploding for a career-high 12 points at Purdue last Thursday. She then have five vs. Indiana on Sunday.
Feb. 28 Game Time Set: Illinois' regular season finale at Northwestern on Feb. 28 has been set for 2 p.m. CT. The game will not be televised but will be streamed live at http://video.bigtennetwork.com.
Scouting the Wildcats
Northwestern is 14-9 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten entering Thursday's game. The Wildcats have won two straight, beating Michigan at home last Thursday and winning at Wisconsin on Jan. 31. Junior center Amy Jaeschke is one of the top posts in the conference, averaging 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game. Sophomore forward Brittany Orban chips in 10.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range, while Kendall Hackney is the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week, scoring 18 points in the recent win over Michigan.
As a team, Northwestern leads the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 75.9 percent. Head coach Joe McKeown is in his second year at Northwestern and 24th year as a head coach.
The Illinois-Northwestern Series: Illinois has won 19 straight against the Wildcats, which is the longest current winning streak of one Big Ten team over another. NU has not beaten the Illini since Feb. 5, 1999. After the `Cats dominated the early portion of the series, Illinois has won 22 of the last 23 overall, including eight straight at Assembly Hall. Overall, Northwestern owns a 31-29 advantage, although the Orange and Blue have a 15-13 edge in games played at home.
Watch Out for Jenna
Double-Dipping: Senior All-America candidate Jenna Smith leads the Big Ten and ranks third nationally with 14 double-doubles this season. She is already Illinois' career double-doubles record holder with 46.
Making Her Point: Smith has climbed all the way up to third on the UI career scoring list this season and currently has 1,954 career tallies. She enters Thursday's game 30 points behind Jonelle Polk's second place total of 1,984 and is 136 points shy of breaking Ashley Berggren's Illinois career scoring record of 2,089 points. With a minimum of six games left, Smith needs to average 22.7 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 (1,087), blocked shots (207) and double-doubles (46), and has a 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 1,087 1 1,087 - Blocks 207 1 207 - Double-Doubles 46 1 46 - Points 1,954 3 2,089 136 FG Made 738 4 815 78 Toe-ing the Line: One of the most overlooked parts of Smith's game has been her free throw shooting. She's currently second in the Big Ten and 25th in the nation at 86.4 percent from the charity stripe this year, while her career percentage of 80.1 ranks sixth in Illinois history. She ranks second on the Illinois career free throws made list with 446 behind Ashley Berggren's record of 562.
Smith Sweeps Blocks Records: Smith has etched her name at the top of every blocked shots category in the UI record book. She became Illinois' career blocks leader last season and has a chance to reach top-10 status in the all-time Big Ten record book. She also holds the top two spots on the UI single-season blocks list (63 in 2008-09 and 59 in 2007-08) and recently broke the single-game record with seven blocks at Purdue on Feb. 4.
Working Woman: Smith won't be doing all of her work on the basketball court or in the classroom this semester. The senior is also interning with the Illinois Athletic Public relations Office during the spring term. Smith, who is set to graduate on May with a degree in community health, will get a first-hand look at what goes on behind the scenes in an athletic department. Looks for her weekly blog about the experience at fightingillini.com.
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 9.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, a team-high 4.0 assists and Big Ten-leading 3.0 steals per game, all while usually guarding the top offensive player from the opposing team. She ranks in the top-15 in the conference in nine categories (steals, assists, assist-TO ratio, defensive rebounds, 3FG%, overall FG%, blocks, rebounds and minutes).
Simpson Moves Into Top 20: Senior Lacey Simpson moved into 20th place on the UI career scoring list with 15 points at Minnesota on Jan. 31. She enters the weekend with 1,063 points, 28 points behind Alicia Sheeler's 19th place total of 1,091. Simpson became the 23rd player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-point milestone on Jan. 21 against Iowa.
Rare Company: Simpson one of just three players in Illinois history to amass over 1,000 points, 800 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 (324), ranks third in blocked shots (148) and assists (415) and eighth in rebounds (819). She's also climbing up both the three point field goals list (11th) and scoring list (20th).
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 20.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game for the Orange and Blue.
Karisma Penn and Adrienne GodBold have made the biggest impact thus far. Penn, a 6-2 forward, is averaging 11.2 points, 5.5 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 6.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 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. She has also been key defensively for the Orange and Blue, taking some of the defensive load off of Lacey Simpson.
Kersten Magrum and Brianna Jones have also made an impact during their rookie campaigns. Magrum has started the last four games and is averaging 7.3 ppg in those four games. She went for a career-high 12 points on Feb. 4 at Purdue. Jones, meanwhile, missed seven games earlier in the season with a strained Achilles and is working her way back into the rotation. She has seen action in 11 games.
Fighting Illini Tidbits
Break Out the Brooms: With the win over Minnesota on Jan. 31, the Illini swept the season series from the Gophers for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
New and Improved: With 12 wins this season, the Illini have exceeded their win total from a year ago by two. Last year, Illinois finished the season 10-21.
Three Times a Charm: Jenna Smith and freshman Karisma Penn have both taken home weekly conference accolades three times this season. Smith has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week three times, while Penn has earned Freshman of the Week honors on three different occasions.