Big Ten Tournament Game Notes
March 2, 2010
2010 Big Ten Tournament NotesMarch 4-7, 2010 // Conseco Fieldhouse // Indianapolis, Ind.
Illinois' Tournament Road
On The Air
Illinois Head Coach
Setting the Scene
Looking Ahead: The winner of the Illinois-Indiana contest will advance to the quarterfinals to face No. 1 seed Ohio State at 6 p.m. ET on Friday. The winner of that game will take on either No. 4 Wisconsin or No. 5 Iowa in the semifinals on Saturday, March 8, at approximately 7:15 p.m. ET.
In 2008, Illinois topped No. 8 seed Wisconsin in the first round and then upset the No. 1 seeded Buckeyes and No. 5 seed Michigan State before falling at the buzzer to Purdue in the title game. Last season, once again as the No. 9 seed, the Illini defeated No. 8 seed Penn State in the first round before falling to No. 1 seed OSU in the quarterfinals. Overall, Illinois has a 4-2 record in the conference tournament as the No. 9 seed.
Strong Finishers: This year's Illini are trying to replicate the late-season success the team has had in each of the last two years. During Jolette Law's first season in 2007-08, Illinois made a magical run to the Big Ten Tournament championship game as the No. 9 seed before losing the title to Purdue on a buzzer-beater. Then last year, the Illini finished strong again, going 6-5 in their final 11 games after starting the season 4-16. The Illini have won two straight heading to the postseason and are hoping to carry that momentum toward another long tournament run.
All-Big Ten: Senior Jenna Smith was named a first team All-Big Ten selection for the third year in a row when the conference announced this year's award winners on Monday. She joins Ashley Berggren as the only Illini named to the first team three times. Smith was a unanimous first team choice by the media. Senior Lacey Simpson was named third team All-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention by the coaches and was also named to the All-Defensive Team for the second straight season. Additionally, Karisma Penn was named to the All-Freshman Team and Kersten Magrum was tabbed as Illinois' Sportsmanship honoree.
Smith Makes the Cut: Senior All-America candidate Jenna Smith was named to the Naismith Award Midseason top-30 list last week. The prestigious Naismith Trophy is presented annually to college basketball's player of the year. Smith was also a preseason candidate for the Wade Trophy, the Wooden Award and the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Winning Record: The win at Northwestern on Sunday gave the Illini 15 wins and ensured a record of at least .500 for the season, making them eligible for postseason play. It marks the 12th time in the last 14 years that Illinois has finished above the .500 mark.
Dynamic Duo in the History Books: Seniors Jenna Smith and Lacey Simpson will go down as two of the best players in program history. Take a look below to see where each ranks in the UI career record book heading into postseason play. See page 8 for a complete list of updated records.
Smith in the Illini Record Book Stat Total Rank Rebounds 1,138 1 Blocks 213 1 Double-Doubles 48 1 FG Attempts 1,563 1 Games Started 115 1 Minutes Played 4,320 1 Points 2,051 2 FG Made 774 2 FT Made 465 2 Games Played 124 2 FT Percentage .804 6 Smith Among All-Time Big Ten Elite: Jenna Smith is just the third player in Big Ten history to reach 2,000+ career points and 1,000+ career rebounds. With 2,051 points and 1,138 boards, Smith joins former Ohio State center Jessica Davenport (2004-07) and former Minnesota Golden Gopher Laura Coenen (1982-85) in the exclusive club.
Queen of the Boards: Jenna Smith has been a monster on the boards this season, averaging 11.0 per game to rank 11th in the nation. She pulled down a career-high 20 boards vs. Indiana on Feb. 7 and is quickly climbing up the Big Ten career rebounding list. She became Illinois' career rebounding leader on Jan. 17 and enters Sunday's game with 1,138 career boards, making her the third-best rebounder in Big Ten women's history. She is behind only Big Ten record-holder Denise Jackson of Indiana (1,263) and Janel McCarville of Minnesota (1,206) in the conference record book.
Penn There, Done That: Karisma Penn was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the fourth time this season on March 1 after a strong all-around game in the win at Northwestern on Feb. 28. Penn had 10 points, six rebounds, a career-high six assists, four blocks and three steals in the win to share the award with Michigan's Dayeesha Hollins. Penn's four Freshman of the Week awards this season are tied for the most in the conference with Iowa's Jaime Printy.
Penn Breaks Frosh Record: With 43 blocks this season, Karisma Penn is the Illinois freshman blocks record holder. She broke the old record of 39 that was shared by current seniors Jenna Smith and Lacey Simpson. Those two have gone on to rank 1-2 on the UI career blocks list, meaning Penn is ahead of their record pace after one season.
Magrum Thriving in Starting Role: Since earning a spot in the starting lineup nine games ago, freshman Kersten Magrum has stepped-up to average 7.9 points per game and is shooting 49 percent from the field. She exploded for 12 points at Purdue on Feb. 4, and then topped that on Feb. 14 at Iowa with a career-high 14 points.
Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament
The Illini have made plenty of noise as an underdog in tournament action. In 2001 the sixth-seeded Illini downed #3 Wisconsin, in 2008 the ninth-seeded Illini topped No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan State en route to the title game, and then last season the 9th-seeded Illini topped No. 8 Penn State in first round.
Illinois tournament advancement...
Top Illini Postseason Performers
Simpson has also played some of her best ball during tourney time as she averages 11.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.1 blocks per game in seven games. She holds Illinois single-game tournament records for rebounds (14 vs. Penn State in 2009), assists (7 vs. Penn State in 2009) and blocks (5 vs. Wisconsin in 2008) and is Illinois' career leader for tournament rebounds (57) and blocks (15).
What to Watch For In Indy
First Round Foe: Indiana
The Illinois-Indiana Series: Indiana owns a 32-26 advantage over Illinois in the all-time series, including two victories this season. Prior to this season, Illinois had won three straight over Indiana. The Illini and Hoosiers have met four times on a neutral court, each picking up two wins. The only meeting between the teams in the Big Ten Tournament was on March 1, 1996, with the Illini winning 84-70.
This Year vs. the Hoosiers: Indiana won both meetings against the Illini this season, winning 50-48 in Bloomington on Jan. 7 and 67-54 in Champaign on Feb. 7.
In the Jan. 7 meeting, IU's Braun hit a lay-up with 2.7 seconds left to give the Hoosiers a two-point lead before Illinois' Fabiola Josil attempted at a game-winning three that rattled in-and-out as time expired. Jenna Smith (12 points) and Adrienne GodBold (11 points) led the way for the Illini. In the second meeting in Champaign, Smith pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds and had six blocks, while Lacey Simpson had 17 points and 11 boards in defeat.
Watch Out for Jenna
Countdown to the Record: Smith has moved to within 39 points of breaking Ashley Berggren's Illinois scoring record of 2,089 points. With at least one Big Ten Tournament game and the likelihood of at least one game in the WNIT or NCAA Tournament, Smith needs to average 19.5 ppg to get the mark. Smith moved into second on the UI career scoring list after her 34-point performance against NU on Feb. 11 and went over the 2,000 point milestone on Feb. 14 at Iowa. She enters the postseason with 2,051 career points.
Record Breaker: Smith is already the Illinois career leader in rebounds (1,126), blocked shots (212), double-doubles (47), field goals attempted (1,553), games started (114) and minutes played (4,281) and has a chance to top the scoring and field goals made list as well as she ranks second on both. Take a look at Illinois all-time records Smith has a chance to break this season on page 8.
Jenna's Fire Burning: Senior All-American Jenna Smith was on fire in the Feb. 11 win over Northwestern. Smith hit her first 11 shots of the game, including a career-high five three-pointers, and had 28 points in the first 13 minutes of the game as the Illini jumped out to a huge lead. She finished with a career-high 34 points, hitting 13-of-16 overall, 5-of-6 from downtown and 3-of-3 from the free throw line against the Wildcats.
Toeing the Line: One of the most overlooked parts of Smith's game has been her free throw shooting. She won the Big Ten's FT shooting crown as with the best percentage (.878) during conference game and she's currently second in the Big Ten and 17th in the nation at 87.0 percent from the charity stripe for the year. Her career percentage of 80.4 ranks sixth in Illinois history and she ranks second on the Illinois career free throws made list with 465, behind only Ashley Berggren's record of 562.
Double-Dipping: Smith ranks 13th nationally and second in the Big Ten with 16 double-doubles this season. She is already Illinois' career double-doubles record holder with 48.
From Way Downtown: 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 hit a career-high five threes on six attempts against Northwestern on Feb. 11 and has made a career-high 22 three-pointers so far this season. She is shooting a respectable 37.3 percent from downtown for the season.
Jenna 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.
Another Record Bites the Dust: Smith has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week three times this season and six times in her career, which is the most in school history. The old record was five by Ashley Berggren from 1995-98. This year, Smith earned back-to-back Player of the Week honors on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 and then again on Jan. 4. She was also a three-time winner during the 2007-08 season.
Miss Consistency: Smith has scored in double-figures in 107 career games. She had a school-record streak of 54 straight games in double-figures snapped on Jan. 14 at Ohio State. At the time, it was the third-longest double-digit scoring streak in the nation.
National Radar: A former All-American and three-time first team All-Big Ten honoree, Smith was named to four preseason national award watch lists heading into this season. Smith was a preseason candidate for the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award and the Wade Trophy, which all go to the Division I Player of the Year. She was also up for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which focuses on the student-athlete on and off the court. Recently, she was named to the Midseason top-30 for the Naismith Award.
Smith Tops Augustine: Smith is not only the Illinois women's career rebounding leader, but has also surpassed James Augustine's all-time men's record of 1,023, making her the top rebounder in the Illinois record books, male or female.
Big Ten Leader: With 2,051 career points and 1,138 career rebounds, Smith is the Big Ten Conference's active leader in both stat categories.
Working Woman: Smith isn't 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 in May with a degree in community health, is getting a first-hand look at what goes on behind the scenes in an athletic department. Look for her weekly blog about the experience, called "Posting Up with Jenna" at fightingillini.com.
Simpson Steals the Show
Simpson is not only outstanding in the steals department, but she also ranks ninth in the conference in blocks and seventh in rebounding. She also has been a lockdown defender while guarding the best perimeter player on the opposing team all season.
Simpson Climbing BT Steals List: After notching six more steals Sunday against Northwestern, Simpson heads into the Big Ten Tournament ranked fourth on the Big Ten career steals list with 348. Already the Illinois career steals leader, Simpson is six steals ahead of current Purdue senior FahKara Malone on the Big Ten list. Simpson leads the Big Ten and is seventh nationally in steals at 3.3 per game. During conference play she averaged a league-best 3.6 thefts per contest for her second-straight conference steals title. She needs six more steals to pass former Wisconsin Badger Tamara Moore for third on the all-time Big Ten list and 11 more to pass former Buckeye Kim Wilburn for second.
Simpson Does It All: 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 9.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, a team-high 3.9 assists and Big Ten-leading 3.3 steals per game. She ranks in the top-15 in the conference in eight categories (steals, assists, assist-TO ratio, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, blocks, FG percentage and rebounds).
Dropping Dimes: With a team-high 109 assists this season, Simpson is the first player in school history to record 100+ assists in four different seasons. She has 433 career assists to rank third on the Illinois all-time list.
Movin' On Up: Simpson has moved up to 19th place on the UI career scoring list with 1,104 points. She enters the postseason two points behind Lori Bjork's 18th place total of 1,106 and is 12 points behind Angie McClellan for 17th place. Simpson became the 23rd player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-point milestone on Jan. 21 against Iowa.
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-5 in seven different categories and is the program's all-time leader in steals (348) and games played (129). She also ranks second in blocked shots (159), games started (112) and minutes played (3,941), third in assists (433) and fifth in rebounds (857), while also climbing up both the three point field goals list (10th) and scoring (19th) lists.
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.
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 43.1 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from downtown. Simpson made just eight threes all of last season (she has a team-high 33 this year) and shot 39 percent overall and 22 percent from behind the arc in 2008-09.
College Grad: Simpson, a fifth-year senior, earned her bachelor's degree in sport management last May and is currently pursuing a master's degree in human resource education as she completes her final year of athletic eligibility.
Block Party in the USA
Illinois in the NCAA Rankings
Team Category Rank Stat Blocked Shots 9 5.9 FG Percentage Defense 34 36.3
Karisma Penn, Adrienne GodBold and Kersten Magrum have made the biggest impact thus far. Penn, a 6-2 forward, is averaging 10.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game and has picked-up a conference-best four Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards, most recently on March 1 after a huge all-around game at Northwestern. In Jan. 3, Penn hit 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 6.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 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.
Magrum has thrived since moving in the starting lineup on Jan. 28. While starting in those last nine games, she is averaging 7.9 points per game and shooting 50 percent from the field to up her scoring average from 1.8 to 4.0.
Brianna Jones was also expected to make an impact this year, but 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 12 games.
No Sophomore Slump
In addition, second-year transfer Whitney Toone has made 11 starts this season and has provided a big spark with her defensive intensity, particularly against Alabama on Nov. 29 (career-high three steals, five offensive rebounds, four points and three assists). She scored a season-high 12 points at Ohio State on Jan. 14.
Fighting Illini Tidbits
Big Ten Stat Champs: Illinois players finished atop a pair of Big Ten stat categories during conference play. Lacey Simpson repeated as the conference steals champion as she averaged 3.61 steals per game in Big Ten action to easily outpace second-place FahKara Malone (2.50 spg). Meanwhile, Jenna Smith finished conference play atop the free throw percentage chart by hitting at a sizzling 87.8 percent from the charity stripe. Smith also just missed the rebounding crown, finishing tied for second at 10.8 rebounds per game, just behind Kachine Alexander's conference-leading total of 11.1.
Dominance Over Northwestern Continues: After sweeping the Wildcats once again this season (81-50 on Feb. 11 in Champaign and 58-48 on Feb. 28 in Evanston), Illinois has now won 21 straight against the Wildcats overall and 11 straight against the `Cats in Evanston. NU has not beaten Illinois since Feb. 5, 1999, and has not topped the Illini at Welsh-Ryan Arena since 1996. The 21 straight overall victories is the longest current streak of one Big Ten team over another.
Cardiac Kids: Three of Illinois' Big Ten games came down to the final tick. The Illini topped Wisconsin, 53-52, on Jan. 3 on a buzzer-beating lay-up by Karisma Penn as time expired. Then on Jan. 7 at Indiana, Fabiola Josil's three-pointer rattled in-and-out at the buzzer in the 50-48 loss to the Hoosiers. Finally, in the 64-62 win over Minnesota on Jan. 10, Adrienne GodBold's three-point play with 10.3 seconds left gave the Illini the lead before Minnesota missed a three at the buzzer.
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.
Raking in Honors: Jenna Smith and freshman Karisma Penn have both taken home several weekly conference accolades this season. Smith was named the Big Ten Player of the Week three times, while Penn earned Freshman of the Week honors on four different different occasions.
Big Ten Tournament Tickets On Sale
Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis is once again the site of the women's tournament from March 4-7. The tournament features all 11 Big Ten teams competing in 10 games over four days for the 2010 tournament crown and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The bracket for the 2010 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament, along with information on tickets, travel, lodging, tournament history and more, can be found at both bigten.org and indianasportscorp.com.
Ultimate Basketball Challenge Set for April 14