Lori Bjork returns to her home state of Iowa when the Illini battle the Hawkeyes Thursday night.
Feb. 14, 2007
Game 25: Illinois (16-8, 6-6) at IOWA (12-13, 4-8)
Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007 // 8:30 p.m. CST // Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500) // Iowa City, Iowa
On The Air
Radio: Illini Sports Network - WDWS AM 1400 and WDAN AM 1490 - LIVE - (Dave Loane and Derek Neal)
Internet: Fightingillini.com live streaming audio and Gametracker
Iowa leads 41-15 overall and 22-4 in Iowa City
Last season: Iowa 84, Illinois 65 (1/1/06 @ Iowa City) and Iowa 71, Illinois 60 (2/23/06 @ Champaign)
Illinois: Theresa Grentz, 668-307 overall (33rd season), 207-152 at Illinois (12th season)
Iowa: Lisa Bluder, 481-226 overall (23rd season), 125-83 at Iowa (7th season)
For Openers: Illinois (16-8, 6-6) will be looking to end a three-game skid when they hit the road to face the Iowa Hawkeyes (12-13, 4-8) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. The Illini are coming off three straight games against ranked competition, most recently a 69-60 defeat to No. 4 Ohio State at Assembly Hall on Sunday. Illinois currently sits in fifth place in the Big Ten, 1/2 game behind Wisconsin for fourth. Iowa, meanwhile, is in eighth place with a 4-8 conference mark after falling to Wisconsin on the road on Sunday.
Time Change: Thursday's Illinois-Iowa game in Iowa City has been moved from the originally scheduled time of 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will now be part of doubleheader with the Iowa men's team. The Iowa-Northwestern men's game originally scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 14, has been postponed to Thursday night due to severe weather conditions. That game will tip-off at 6 p.m., with the women's game starting 30 minutes after the completion of the men's game (approx. 8:30 p.m.)
Homecoming for Pair: Iowa natives Lori Bjork and Stephanie Chelleen will be returning to their home state when the Illini head to Iowa City on Thursday. Bjork is a native of Johnston, Iowa, while Chelleen hails from Des Moines.
Illini Trends: This year the Fighting Illini are...
...13-0 when allowing less than 60 points
...15-1 when leading at halftime
...13-1 when shooting more FTs than their opponent
...9-2 in night games
...5-6 on the road
Bjork Has Sights on 3FG Mark: Sophomore Lori Bjork needs four three-pointers to tie, and five to break Krista Reinking's UI single season record for three's made. Reinking hit 74 treys in 28 games during the 1995-96 season, while Bjork has drained 70 in 24 games this season.
Wigley Nearing 1,000: Senior Erin Wigley is inching closer to becoming the 20th player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000 point milestone. After scoring six points vs. Purdue on Thursday, the Moon Township, Pa., native has 983 career points.
Bjork Earns Academic Honor: Lori Bjork was named to the CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District First Team last week. Bjork is a political science major with a 3.96 GPA. She will now be on the Academic All-America ballot, which is voted on by college sports information directors.
Defense has been one of the keys to Illinois' solid play. The Fighting Illini lead the conference in three-point FG percentage defense (.246), and rank 19th in the nation and third in the conference in overall FG percentage defense (.354) . The Orange and Blue have allowed only four opponents to shoot over 40 percent in a game this season.
Illinois has been dominant on the glass this season, leading the Big Ten in rebounding offense (41.8) and defensive rebounds (29.75) and ranking second in rebounding margin (+7.3) for all games. Individually, freshman Jenna Smith leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (3.45) and is fourth in overall rebounds (8.2) in conference play. The Illini have out-rebounded their opponent in 13 of the last 16, tying once and losing the rebounding battle by a margin of one twice.
Illinois ranks third in the Big Ten in 3FG made per game (5.63) and fourth in 3FG percentage (.364). Lori Bjork leads the way, hitting 70-of-167, which makes her the conference leader and ranks her sixth in the nation in three's made per game (2.92), and second in the conference and 22nd in the nation in 3FG percentage (.419).
Illini in the NCAA Rankings
According to the Feb. 12 NCAA Statistical rankings, the Fighting Illini rank in the top-50 in the country in six categories. Most notably, the Orange and Blue rank seventh in personal fouls per game (13.7), 18th in rebounding margin (+7.3), 19th in FG percentage defense (.354) and 29th in blocks per game (5.0).
Individually, Lori Bjork comes in at sixth in 3FG made per game (2.92) and 22nd in 3FG percentage (.419), while Lacey Simpson is ranked 57th in steals per game (2.5).
Illinois is ranked 69th in the RPI according to the Feb. 13 CollegeRPI.com report and have a schedule strength of 80 according to the site. Iowa has an RPI ranking of 85 and a strength of schedule ranking of 34.
Big Ten Pace Setters
In Big Ten games, Illinois leads the league in three categories: 3FG% defense (.243), rebounding margin (+6.5), and defensive rebounds (28.58). The Illini rank in the top-four in 13-of-19 statistical categories.
In all games, the Illini also lead the league in three categories: 3FG% defense (.246), rebounding offense (41.8), and defensive rebounds (29.75); while ranking in the top-four in 14-of-19 categories.
Bjork's Going Streakin'
According to a list compiled by the Texas Christian University sports information office, Illini sophomore Lori Bjork's streak of 31 straight games with at least one three-pointer made is the fourth longest active streak in the nation. Additionally, Bjork's string of 24 consecutive games with at least two three-pointers made is the longest current streak in the nation. Below is a list of the longest active consecutive three-point streaks in the country as of Feb. 13.
Rk. Name (Streak)
1 Jackie Closser, Butler (51)
2 Ashley Davis, TCU (44)
3 Rashida Suber, Coppin State (41)
4 Lori Bjork, Illinois (31)
Scouting the Hawkeyes
Iowa enters Thursday's game in eighth place in the Big Ten with a 4-8 conference mark and a 12-13 overall record. The Hawkeyes are coming off an 84-73 road defeat as Wisconsin on Sunday. Sophomore Wendy Ausdemore led the Hawks with 27 points. Iowa leads the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.395) and free throw percentage (.785).
The Hawkeyes are led by sophomore guard Kristi Smith (13.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, .507 3FG%), who is shooting a ridiculous 60 percent (24-40) from behind the arc in Big Ten play. Ausdemore (12.4 ppg) has also been deadly from outside, nailing a team-high 51 threes on the year and shooting at over a 40 percent clip from downtown. Iowa will likely be without sophomore center Megan Skouby (14.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg) who has missed the last three games with a broken bone in her non-shooting hand.
The Illinois-Iowa Series
Iowa leads the all-time series 41-15 and has dominated in Iowa City, winning 22 of 26 all-time meetings there. The Hawkeyes have won six straight overall in the series, with Illinois' last victory coming on Feb. 9, 2003, when the Illini prevailed 73-58 in Champaign. Illinois' last win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena was an 82-72 final on Feb. 2, 2003, which snapped a 17-game Illini losing streak in Iowa City dating back to 1983. Theresa Grentz is 5-15 in her career against Iowa, all during her tenure at Illinois.
Illinois-Iowa Fun Fact: Illinois and Iowa are the only two teams in the conference that have to play each of the top three teams (Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State) twice.
Schedule Toughens down the Stretch
After playing three straight games against the top three teams in the conference, Illinois' strength of schedule has gone from 124th to 80th in the nation according to CollegeRPI.com. The Illini still have road games remaining at Iowa and Indiana before closing the season at home against #24/24 Michigan State and #16/15 Purdue.
With 120 blocks in 24 games (5.0 per game), Illinois is on pace to top the school record of 137 blocks in a season. The Illini tied a school record and set a new Kohl Center record with 11 blocked shots in the 70-62 win over Wisconsin at the Kohl Center on Jan. 14. Jenna Smith led the block party for the Illini with a career-high five swats. The other time the Illini had 11 blocks in a game was back on March 1, 1997 in a 98-76 win over Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
Bjork Makes Point
Sophomore Lori Bjork has hit 70 three-point FGs on the season, putting her just 4 behind the school record of 74 by Krista Reinking (1995-96). Additionally, her 123 career threes in less than two seasons already puts her fourth on the UI career 3FG made list. She is on pace to easily break Reinking's career mark of 194.
Bjork hit a career-high six threes on Feb. 1 against Michigan, equaling the third-highest single game three-point FG total in school history.
For all games, Bjork leads the conference in threes made per game (2.92), ranks second in minutes (34.83) and 3FG percentage (.419), and fourth in scoring (15.0). In Big Ten games, she leads the league in threes made per game (3.15), ranks third in 3FG percentage (.448), fourth in minutes (35.83), sixth in scoring (15.5) and seventh in FT percentage (.860).
Bjork has made the transition to point guard this season after the Illini lost Maggie Acuna and Janelle Hughes to graduation last spring. She has flourished in the role, leading the team in scoring (15.0), three-point field goals (70) and minutes (34.8), while ranking second in assists (68).
Freshman of the Year candidate Jenna Smith is tops among all league rookies in rebounds (8.2 rpg) and is second in scoring (11.2) during conference games.
Smith's double-double vs. Florida on Dec. 5 (22 p, 10 r) was the first of her career and the 22 points shattered her previous career high of 14. She has had two more double-doubles since, most recently a 17 point, 11 rebound performance vs. Northwestern on Jan. 28. On Jan. 18, against her home-state Minnesota Golden Gophers, she poured in a game-high 18 points.
For the season, Smith is averaging 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, which rank second and first on the team, respectively. Her .497 shooting percentage leads the team and ranks ninth in the Big Ten.