The Illini had a number of things to celebrate in 2012-13.
June 21, 2013
Illini Notch Successful First Year Under Bollant: Illinois posted a strong first season under head coach Matt Bollant, tying for fifth place in the Big Ten with a 9-7 conference mark, reaching the quarterfinals of the Women's NIT and breaking the Big Ten records for steals in a season and turnovers forced in a conference season. The 9-7 Big Ten record equaled the Illini's best since 2000 and the fifth-place Big Ten finish marked Illinois' best since 2007. And UI's advancement to the WNIT quarterfinals equaled the program's deepest postseason run.
Veteran Pair Takes Over in WNIT: Karisma Penn and Amber Moore led the way for the Illini in the WNIT, combining to average 37.3 points per game. Moore led all scorers with 25 against Miami (Ohio) in the first round, chipped in 16 against Eastern Illinois and had 18 at Toledo. Penn had 20 against the RedHawks, 19 against the Panthers, notched her first double-double in a month at Toledo with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and had 20 points and nine rebounds at Kansas State.
Illini Make 2013 the Longest Season in Program History: With its win at Toledo on March 28, Illinois made the 2012-13 the longest in school history by total number of days. The Illini played for 140 days in 2012-13, which narrowly edges the 2007-08 campaign (139 days).
Illini Break Big Ten Steals Record: Illinois broke the Big Ten record for steals in a season with its 10th steal at Toledo in the third round of the WNIT on March 28. The Illini finished the game with 13 steals then added nine more at Kansas State to finish the season with 417, besting the previous record of 404 by Purdue's 2000-01 team.
Orange & Blue break Treys Mark: Head coach Matt Bollant's offensive philosophy is to maximize the number of three-pointers and layups his team gets, and the Illini lived up to that in 2012-13. Illinois broke the school record for made three-pointers in a season with its first trey at Kansas State on March 30 and added two more, finishing the season with 184 to top the 2007-08 squad's 181 triples. But that team required 35 games to reach that mark, whereas the 2012-13 squad recorded the new record in only 33 games.
Penn Named Honorable Mention All-America: Karisma Penn was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press on April 2, her first career All-America honor and the first for an Illini player since Jenna Smith also earned honorable mention All-America laurels in 2007-08. Penn led the Illini with 19.2 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game.
Penn Reaches Milestone: Senior forward Karisma Penn became only the seventh player in Big Ten history to top 1,900 points and 1,000 rebounds with her 20-point outing against Miami (Ohio) on March 21. And with nine rebounds against Eastern Illinois on March 25, she passed Cindy Dallas for second on Illinois' all-time rebounding list. Penn also passed Lisa Robinson for fourth place on the all-time scoring chart with her 19 points against the Panthers. Those are the spots where she finished her career with 1,043 rebounds and 1,965 points.
Moore Rewrites History: Junior Amber Moore, playing in the postseason for the first time in her career, thrived in the WNIT, averaging 16.8 points and 3.5 three-pointers per game. She also broke the Illinois single-season records for three-pointers made and attempted with 86 and 230, respectively. Those topped the old records for three-pointers made (Lori Bjork, 84, 2006-07) and attempted (Krista Reinking, 221, 1995-96). Moore also broke the UI career attempted treys record against Eastern Illinois and is eight shy of breaking Bjork's career three-pointers made record, as she has 207 and the record is 214.
Illini Do It With Defense: After allowing 67.3 points per game during the regular season, Illinois cranked up the defense in the postseason. In four WNIT games, the Illini allowed only 58.8 ppg and held opponents to 37.6 percent shooting after foes hit 42.1 percent during the regular season. Illinois also continued its season-long trend of forcing turnovers, averaging 21.0 turnovers forced and 11.8 steals per game in the WNIT.
GodBold, Penn Honored: Seniors Adrienne Godbold and Karisma Penn were recognized when the All-Big Ten teams and individual honors were announced on March 4, with GodBold taking home Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors and being named to the second-team by conference coaches. She also was a third-team All-Big Ten pick by the media. Penn was a first-team selection by the media and a third-team honoree by the coaches, the first time in her career that she has earned first-team honors. GodBold remains the only Illini to earn an individual award since Ashley Berggren was the 1997 Player of the Year, as she also was named the 2012 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year. It also marked the first time in the last three years that two Illini have been named to the All-Big Ten teams.
Illini Notch Best Big Ten Record in 10 Years: The Illini went 9-7 in Big Ten play, equaling their best conference record since 2000 and marking their first winning record in conference action since 2002-03 (9-7, sixth place). The 2002-03 season also was the last time Illinois reached the NCAA Tournament.
Road Warriors: Illinois lost its first Big Ten road game of the season on Feb. 7, snapping a five-game road winning streak in conference play. That marked the first time an Illinois team has ever won five straight Big Ten games in one season and tied the school record for road wins in a conference campaign. The last time the Orange and Blue had won five straight Big Ten road games was across the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons. The Orange and Blue were 7-5 in true road games and the win at Toledo in the WNIT Round of 16 snapped a three-game road skid.
The House of 'Paign: The Illini won six of their last seven home games after opening the Big Ten season 0-3 at Assembly Hall and were 11-7 at home in 2012-13. A big factor in that was Illinois' improved attendance. The Illini averaged 2,026 per game in the regular season, nearly doubling last year's average of 1,070. It was even clearer in Big Ten play, as Illinois averaged 2,530 compared to 1,198 in 2011-12, a 111 percent increase.
Illini Shatter Steals Records: The Illini led the Big Ten and ranked fifth nationally in steals per game (12.6) and also led the league with 14.6 steals per game during conference play, 2.8 steals per game more than second-place Penn State (11.8). Illinois broke the Big Ten record for steals in a season (408) at Toledo on March 28 after breaking the school record at No. 7 Penn State on Feb. 20. With 232 steals during conference play, the Illini broke the record for steals and steals per game in a Big Ten season, as those marks were 232 by the 1985 Ohio State team and 12.9 by the 1996 Wisconsin squad, respectively. The Illini broke the school record for most steals in a Big Ten game with 24 at Northwestern on Jan 10. Illinois recorded double-digit steals in 25 of 33 games and 18 of the last 21.
For a complete year in review, see the above PDF.