Women's Basketball
2010-11 Season Wrap-Up

Karisma Penn and the Illini reached the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Karisma Penn and the Illini reached the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

May 10, 2011

Complete 2010-11 Final Notes | Season Highlight Video | 2010-11 Photos | Final Big Ten Notes


• Overall Record: 9-23 // Big Ten Record: 2-14 - 11th place
• Advanced to Big ten Tournament Semifinal
Karisma Penn named second team All-Big Ten by media and third team by coaches
Amber Moore named to Big Ten All-Freshman Team
Karisma Penn broke school record for blocked shots in a season (78)
Amber Moore broke school record for three-pointers made in a season by a freshman (65)

The Fighting Illini finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 9-23 overall record and a 2-14 mark in the Big Ten to finish in 11th place. Illinois pulled off two upsets in the Big Ten Tournament to become the first No. 11 seed to advance to the semifinals before falling to No. 2 seed Penn State with a trip to the title game on the line.

• At Home in Indy: Illinois continued its strong play in the Big Ten Tournament since coach Jolette Law took over for the 2007-08 season. The Fighting Illini are 7-4 in the Big Ten Tournament in the last four years, despite playing all 11 games as an underdog. A Law-led squad has never lost in the first round at Conseco Fieldhouse and she has led two teams to at least the semifinals against heavy odds.

In 2008, the ninth-seeded Illini advanced all the way to the title game before falling to Purdue at the buzzer. Then in 2011, the Orange and Blue became the first No. 11 seed to win two games in the tournament before falling to No. 2 seed Penn State in the semifinals.

• Block Party: Sophomore Karisma Penn broke Illinois' single-season blocks record with 78 rejections in 2010-11. Her block of Courtney Boylan's potential game-winning shot with 1.5 seconds left in the regular season finale against Michigan was her 70th rejection of the season, which tied her with Jenna Smith's record from 2009-10. She would break the mark a few days later in the Big Ten Tournament, finishing the season with 78. Penn's 135 career blocks rank fourth all-time at Illinois in just two seasons.

• Select Company: Penn was one of six players nationally and one of just two in a BCS conference that averages at least 17.5 points and 10 boards per game. The others were VCU's Courtney Hurt, Buffalo's Kourtney Brown, Ohio State's Jantel Lavender, Alabama State's Tanika Jackson and Xavier's Amber Harris.

• Moore on Shooting Spree: RS freshman Amber Moore established herself as one of the top shooters in the Big Ten in 2010-11. Her 65 made three's set a new Illinois freshman record and ranked as the fifth-best single-season total in school history. Moore ranked fifth in the Big Ten in threes made per game and she led Illinois and all freshmen in hitting 92 percent from the free throw line.

• GodBold Hits Stride Late: Sophomore Adrienne GodBold finished the 2010-11 season on a roll, averaging 13.0 points, 2.2 steals and shooting .610 from the field over the last five games. In the regular season finale against Michigan, GodBold scored Illinois' last eight points, including two game-tying buckets in the final two minutes. During conference play, GodBold averaged 10.0 ppg and ranked sixth in the league in blocks (1.7) and seventh in steals (1.9).

• Young Guns: Illinois boasted three of the top six freshmen scorers in the Big Ten in 2010-11. Redshirt freshman Amber Moore was third (9.1 ppg), while true freshmen Centrese McGee (5.7 ppg) and Alexis Burke (4.5 ppg) ranked fourth and sixth, respectively. McGee, a 5-8 guard, led all conference freshmen in rebounding (5.3), was second in steals (1.2 spg) and third in assists (1.7), while Moore led league rookies in FT percentage (.920), was second in threes made (65) and third in assists (1.7 apg).

The Illini handed out their 2010-11 team awards at the 31st annual Courtsiders post-season banquet at the iHotel in Champaign on March 27. In addition to the awards listed below, 10 Fighting Illini received their varsity letters.

Most Valuable Player - Karisma Penn
Best Defensive Player - Adrienne GodBold & Karisma Penn
Most Improved - Lana Rukavina
Most Courageous - Amber Moore
Most Inspirational - Kersten Magrum
Coaches Award - Centrese McGee
Sixth Man Award - Adrienne GodBold
Ralf Woods Free Throw Excellence Award - Lydia McCully

2010-11 Letterwinners: Macie Blinn***, Alexis Burke*, Adrienne GodBold**, Centrese McGee*, Lydia McCully***, Eboni Mitchell***, Amber Moore*, Courtney Owens*, Karisma Penn**, Lana Rukavina***

The Illini lost five games on the season where the opponent has made a shot in the final 10 seconds with the game tied or Illinois leading. Take a look at Illinois' buzzer-beating defeats:
• Dec. 8 at Oakland: Oakland's Bethany Watterworth hit a putback with 2.3 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a one-point lead, then Amber Moore's 35-footer at the buzzer rattled in and out in the 62-61 OT loss.
• Jan. 9 vs. Northwestern: NU's Beth Marshall hit a three as time expired to send the game into overtime. In OT, Illinois missed two threes in the final seconds in the 69-66 defeat.
• Jan. 27 vs Penn State: PSU's Julia Trogele scored the go-ahead bucket with 9.1 seconds left and then Illinois' Lydia McCully missed the potential game-tying shot at the buzzer in the 67-65 loss.
• Feb. 3 at Northwestern: With Illinois leading 79-78, Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke hit a contested, turn-around, fall-away, 15-foot bank shot with 1.4 seconds left to give the Wildcats an 80-79 win.
• Feb. 27 vs. Michigan: Michigan's Rachel Sheffer converted a conventional three-point play with 0.2 seconds left to break a 55-55 tie in the Wolverines 58-55 win at Assembly Hall.

Heading into the 2010-11 season, many wondered how the Illini would replace Jenna Smith, a three-time first team All-Big Ten selection and the school's all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocks. While Smith left some big shoes to fill, Illinois sophomore Karisma Penn virtually matched Smith's numbers as a sophomore, when she was named an honorable mention All-American. Take a side-by-side look at their sophomore seasons:

Sophomore Stars: Karisma Penn vs. Jenna Smith

Stat	             Penn '10-11     Smith '07-08
Points per game	        17.5	         18.3
Rebounds per game	10.0	          9.4
Blocks per game	         2.4	          1.7
Steals per game	         1.9	          1.1
Field Goal Percentage	.514	         .503
Double-Doubles	         18	          16
Minutes per game	34.5	         37.3
• Rising to the Occasion: Penn was at her best against top competition during the 2010-11 season. She exploded for a career-high 33 points against #11 Michigan State and Big Ten POY Kalisha Keane on Feb. 20, marking the highest single-game point total during the Big Ten regular season. She hit 14-of-21 from the field and also pulled down 11 rebounds. In two games against the Big Ten champion Spartans, Penn averaged 28.0 ppg, 10.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 1.0 block and shot 65 percent from the field (22-of-34).

Penn also went toe-to-toe with Ohio State All-American Jantel Lavender in the teams' only meeting Jan. 20 and posted some impressive numbers. Penn scored a game-high 26 points, pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds and had four steals against the four-time Big Ten Player of the Year. In three head-to-head matchups with Keane and Lavender, Penn averaged 27.3 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 3.3 spg and shot .593 from the field (32-of-54).

• Seeing Double: Penn posted 18 double-doubles on the season to rank second in the Big Ten and rank 11th in the nation. That total also ranked fourth on the Illinois single-season double-doubles list. She posted eight double-doubles during conference play, which led the league, and has 19 in her career after two seasons.

• All-Around Player: Penn was the only player in the conference to rank in the top-five in four main stat categories. She was fourth in the conference in scoring (17.5 ppg), second in rebounding (10.0 rpg), third in blocks (2.4 bpg) and fourth in FG percentage (.514), while also ranking seventh in steals (1.9 spg). She was been even better in conference play, averaging 19.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals while hitting 52 percent of her shots in Big Ten games.

• Climbing the Charts: Penn finished the season ranked third in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally in blocks (2.4 bpg), quickly climbing up the program's rejection lists. She sits atop the UI single-season blocked shots list with 78 in 2010-11, and is already fourth on the UI career list with 135 after just two seasons, putting her on pace to break Smith's all-time mark of 231 swats.

• Penn POW: Penn was named Big Ten Player of the Week three times on the season. The third and final honor came on Jan. 31 after she averaged 21.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.0 steals in close losses to Penn State and #18 Iowa. She also won POW honors on Jan. 3 and Dec. 20, tying her for the second most POW honors in a season by an Illini.

Entering the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 11 seed after a disappointing 2-14 conference record, the Fighting Illini hoped to replicate their magical 2008 run to the title game when they were seeded ninth. While this year's Illinois team couldn't repeat that feat, it did make a little history of its own by becoming the first No. 11 seed to advance to the semifinals. The Orange and Blue upset No. 6 seed Wisconsin and No. 3 seed Michigan in dominating fashion, never trailing en route to the semis. That's where their run ended against the second-seeded Lady Lions of Penn State.

First Round vs. Wisconsin: No. 11 seed Illinois improved to 6-3 in the conference tournament since Law arrived in 2007-08 with a 63-56 upset win over No. 6 seed Wisconsin. Illinois never trailed in the game and led by as many as 16 in the second half, but the veteran Badgers clawed back to within three in the final minutes. With the Illini leading 59-56 with 40 seconds left, the Illinois defense forced a key turnover and then junior Lydia McCully nailed four free throws in the final 27 seconds to put the game away. Freshman Centrese McGee picked a good time for her first career double-double as the 5-8 guard finished with 12 points and collected a career-high and game-high 13 rebounds.

Quarterfinals vs. Michigan: The Fighting Illini became the first No. 11 seed to advance to the semifinals of the tournament with a 55-47 win over No. 3 seed Michigan at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Illini never trailed in the game and led by as many as 24 points in the second half before Michigan tightened things up a bit at the end. While Centrese McGee and Lydia McCully led the way in Thursday's victory over Wisconsin, it was sophomore star Karisma Penn and redshirt freshman Amber Moore who stepped up big against the Wolverines. Moore hit four first-half threes and scored all 14 of her points before the break as the Illini pulled out to a 37-16 halftime lead. Penn had her Big Ten-leading 17th double-double of the season with game-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Semifinals vs. Penn State: The Fighting Illini's Cinderella run in the Big Ten Tournament came to a close with a 79-65 loss to No. 2 seed Penn State in the semifinals. The 11th-seeded Illini were within three midway through the second half, but the Lady Lions pulled away down the stretch with a 13-0 run to end Illinois' season. Amber Moore hit five three-pointers, including one that pulled the Illini within one just before the halftime buzzer, and led Illinois with 19 points. Adrienne GodBold had 16 points and three steals, while Karisma Penn and junior Lydia McCully each added 11 points for the Orange and Blue. Penn pulled down 10 rebounds to go along with her 11 points, her 18th double-double of the season, and also tied the Illinois Big Ten Tournament record with five blocks.

• Illinois is 7-4 in the Big Ten Tournament over the last four seasons since Jolette Law took over as head coach, despite being the lower seed in all 11 games.
• Illinois has advanced to at least the quarterfinals in seven consecutive years.
• The Illini never trailed in upset wins over No. 6 seed Wisconsin and No. 3 seed Michigan during the first two rounds.
Karisma Penn tied the Illinois single-game Big Ten Tournament record with five blocks against Penn State in the semifinals.
Lydia McCully tied the Illinois single-game Big Ten Tournament record with seven assists against Penn State in the semifinals. Her 12 assists over the three games are the second-most in a single tournament.

Illinois has an overall record of 17-17 and is 7-4 under Law in Big Ten Tournament play. The Illini have advanced to the title game three times, in 1997, '99 and 2008, and have reached the semifinal round six times - in 1997, '99, '00, '01, '08 and '11. After three straight first round losses from 2002-04, Illinois has advanced to at least the quarterfinals in seven straight seasons.

The Illini have made plenty of noise as an underdog in tournament action. In 2001, the sixth-seeded Illini downed #3 Wisconsin and 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. In 2009, the ninth-seeded Illini topped No. 8 Penn State in first round and then in 2010 the Illini, seeded ninth for the third straight season, upset No. 8 Indiana in opening round action. In 2011, the No. 11 seeded Illini upset No. 6 seed Wisconsin in the first round and No. 3 seed Michigan in the quarterfinals.

Illinois tournament advancement...
First Round	       1995, '96, '02, '03, '04
Quarterfinals	       1998, '05, '06, '07, '09, '10
Semifinals	       2000, '01, '11
Championship game      1997, '99, '08
Karisma Penn was named second team All-Big Ten by the media and third team by the coaches when all-conference teams were announced on Feb. 28. In addition, redshirt freshman Amber Moore was named to the All-Freshman team and freshman Centrese McGee was tabbed as Illinois' Sportsmanship honoree.

After sitting out the 2009-10 season with a torn ACL, redshirt freshman Amber Moore came back healthy in 2010-11 and was an explosive outside threat for the Illini. Moore broke the UI freshman three-point field goals record with 65 made triples on the season. She hit 35 threes during conference play (2.2 per game) to rank sixth in the Big Ten. She averaged 10.1 ppg in Big Ten games, well above her average of 6.8 ppg in non-conference action. Her seven threes at Indiana on Jan. 13 equaled the second most in a game in school history behind only Katie Coleman's school-record of nine in 1997, and her 65 threes on the season put her in fifth place on the UI single-season three-point field goals list.

Sophomore Adrienne GodBold relished her role coming off the bench and as a defensive stopper, especially late in the season. In the last 10 games, GodBold averaged 11.5 points, 2.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per game and set or tied career-highs in all three categories during the second half of the season (18 points at Iowa on 2/24, six blocks vs. PSU on 1/27, five steals vs. MSU on 2/20). She also became one of the team's top three-point threats, hitting .355 from behind the arc in Big Ten play, while also ranking sixth in blocks and seventh in steals per game during league play.

Junior Lydia McCully gave the Illini excellent point guard play late in the season, combining for 30 assists, nine steals and eight turnovers in five games from Jan. 30 to Feb. 13. Her 10 point, 11 assist, zero turnover game at Northwestern on Feb. 3 not only marked her first career double-double, but also is the second-highest assist total in a Big Ten game this season. For the season, she ranked fifth in assists overall (4.1 apg) and eighth in assist/TO ratio (1.3).

Junior forward Lana Rukavina exploded for a career-high 22 points at Northwestern on Feb. 3, shattering her previous high of 13. She hit 9-of-14 from the field, including two three-pointers, and also had a career-high three steals versus the Wildcats. In her first two seasons, Rukavina averaged just 1.0 points and 5.1 minutes per game while playing behind All-American Jenna Smith. In 2010-11, Rukavina stepped up to start all 32 games and is averaged 5.6 points and 24.1 minutes per game. In the last 10 games, she is averaged 6.9 points per game and shot .522 from behind the three-point line (11-of-23).

Though she has lived her whole life in Wheeling, Ill., Rukavina has deep roots to her Croatian heritage. Lana actually learned Croatian as a first language when she was little before mastering English. Lana's parents, Davor and Mirella, moved to the U.S. from Croatia in 1983 and each summer they take the family back to the Croatian coastline near the city of Zadar to visit over 20 family members that still live there. A psychology major, Lana hopes to return to her native land to play professionally after she earns her degree from Illinois.

Illinois was one of only seven Division I teams in the nation without a senior on its roster heading into the 2010-11 season, joining Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Murray State, Oral Roberts, Purdue and Rutgers. With the absence of senior leadership, Illini head coach Jolette Law singled out redshirt junior Lydia McCully and sophomores Karisma Penn and Kersten Magrum as players who stepped up as leaders during the season.

The Fighting Illini played nine of their first 13 non-conference games away from home, logging over 15,000 miles of travel during November and December. Illinois made round trips to Honolulu (4,900 miles), Boulder, Colorado (1,000 miles), Columbia, South Carolina (750 miles), Rochester, Michigan (400 miles), Milwaukee (225 miles), Chicago (150 miles) and Peoria (90 miles) in a span of 37 days.

It was announced on Jan. 19 that sophomore Kersten Magrum would miss the rest of the 2010-11 season due to a nagging foot injury. She had surgery on Nov. 10 in hopes of being healthy by the end of December, but had continued problems with the foot after coming back against Marquette on Dec. 21. Magrum saw action in three games during the first half of the 2010-11 season. She applied for a medical hardship waiver, leaving her with three years of eligibility remaining starting in 2011-12.

Junior Macie Blinn was named to the winter Academic All-Big Ten team for the second straight year. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a career GPA of 3.0 or better.

Coach Jolette Law added walk-on Courtney Owens to the Fighting Illini roster in late November. Owens is a 5-10 sophomore guard from Oak Brook, Ill. She was a three-year starter at York High School, where she averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds as a senior in 2008-09. Owens suited up for the first time at Bradley on Nov. 19 and saw her first playing time on Nov. 22 vs. Cal Poly. She played in two games on the season.

Coach Jolette Law announced the signing of five talented student-athletes to national letters of intent on Wednesday, Nov. 10, the first day of the early signing period. Ivory Crawford, a 5-9 combo guard from Chicago, Ill., Kierra Morris, a 6-3 post from Chicago, Ill., Nia Oden, a 5-10 wing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Alexis Smith, a 5-9 point guard from West Islip, N.Y., and Taylor Tuck, a 6-0 wing from Bolingbrook, Ill., all will join the Fighting Illini for the 2011-12 season.

Illinois improved to 8-3 all-time the United Center after this year's win over UIC. The Illini have won six their last seven games at the home of the NBA's Chicago Bulls by an average of nearly 29 points. The Illini played one game at the United Center for 10 consecutive years from 1999-2008 and then returned there this year to play sister-school UIC there after a one-year hiatus.

The Fighting Illini went 1-2 at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu Nov. 26-28. Illinois topped Long Beach State in the opening round, 69-48, before falling to #14 North Carolina, 87-58, and Ole Miss, 70-61, in consecutive days. Illini Freshman Alexis Burke was named to the All-Tournament team and was Big Ten Freshman of the Week after averaging 13.3 points per game over the weekend.

The Illini put up some impressive numbers in their 104-63 win over Cal Poly on Nov. 22:
• The 104 points marked the first time Illinois broke 100 in nine years, since a 101-91 win over Minnesota on Feb. 4, 2001. It was the most points for an Illini squad since a 112-73 win over W. Michigan on 11/15/99.
• Illinois' 28 assists are the most in a game since Dec. 5, 1987, when they had 31 dimes against Ball State, and tied the six-highest total in school history.
• Illinois' 45 made field goals equal the second-most in a game for an Illini team behind only the school record of 50 vs. Bradley in 1982
• The 10 made threes by the Illini ties for the fourth most in school history and is the most since hitting 12 vs. Auburn in 2003.
• The 41-point win marked Illinois' largest margin of victory since beating IPFW by 49 (86-37) on 2/22/05.
Karisma Penn had a career-game, scoring 30 points on 14-of-22 shooting and pulling down 10 rebounds.

Illinois' first ever Youth Day at the Nov. 22 game vs. Cal Poly was a success. Over 2,500 grade school and junior high students cheered for the Illini and listed to Coach Law and the Illini players speak after the game about sportsmanship, teamwork, quality education, anti-bullying, fitness and more, all components of Illinois' statewide public service announcement campaign called Tough Enough, Smart Enough.

The unusual 11 a.m. weekday start allowed for schools to attend the game as a field trip and students were allowed to bring their lunched inside Assembly Hall for the game. Illinois hopes to make Youth Day an annual event.

UI student-athletes hosted the second annual Illini Jock Jams, a variety act/talent show featuring Illini athletic teams on Feb. 23 at Huff Hall. Since the women's basketball team was on their way to Iowa City during the show, the team taped an "Orange and Navy" music video that was shown at the event. Jock Jams raised nearly $20,000 for local, national and international charities.

The Orange and Navy Music Video: