Jolette Law and the Illini open the 2009-10 season with an exhibition again Lewis University Nov. 8.
Aug. 25, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The 2009-10 University of Illinois women's basketball schedule was announced on Tuesday, with a challenging non-conference schedule on tap prior to the always-grueling Big Ten slate. The Orange and Blue will play 18 games against teams that participated in the postseason last year and have a total of 15 home games at Assembly Hall (14 regular season and one exhibition).
"This year's schedule promises to be a test that will certainly allow us to gel and grow as a team," said Jolette Law, who is entering her third season as Fighting Illini head coach. "We have a good mix of home, road and neutral site games and we will see several different styles of play that will help prepare us for conference play.
"The Big Ten will by very strong this year and I feel we have a perfect non-conference schedule to get us ready for it," Law continued. "We open the season with a tough road game at Temple, an NCAA Tournament team last year, and then have games against teams from the SEC, ACC and Big East before starting conference play. Opening the Big Ten will be no easy task, either, with Ohio State coming to Assembly Hall on Dec. 28. It will be important for us to get off to a good start as four of our first five Big Ten games are at home."
Illinois will have one exhibition game against Lewis University at Assembly Hall on Nov. 8 before opening the regular season on the road at Temple on Nov. 13. Three consecutive home games at the Assembly Hall follow, with Siena in town on Nov. 15 for the regular season home-opener followed by Central Michigan (Nov. 18) and Bradley (Nov. 22) coming to town.
The Illini will then head up Interstate 74 to face Illinois State (Nov. 24) before heading west to continue their tradition of taking a trip around the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, Law's squad will take part in the Cal Poly Holiday Beach Classic in San Luis Obispo, Calif., where the Illini will face host team Cal Poly on Nov. 28 and then SEC foe Alabama on Nov. 29. Last season, Illinois spent Thanksgiving in Cancun, Mexico and took part in the Caribbean Challenge and in recent years the Illini have ventured to Hawaii, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, Colorado and Miami during the week of Thanksgiving.
The schedule gets no easier after the trip out west as the Illini head to Winston-Salem, N.C. to face Wake Forest in the third annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge before returning home to face Big East foe Marquette (Dec. 9) and Summit League opponent Oakland (Dec. 19) to close out the nonconference portion of the schedule.
This year, Big Ten Conference play begins on Dec. 6, however, the Illini will have one of their two Big Ten byes on that date meaning they should be well rested when four-time defending champion Ohio State comes to Champaign on Dec. 28. Illinois will be coming off eight days of rest and will have had just one game in the 18 days prior to facing the Buckeyes to begin conference action.
Illinois has its first three Big Ten games at home, as Penn State rolls into Champaign for a New Year's Eve game on Dec. 31 and Wisconsin comes to town on Jan. 3. After the new year begins, the Illini will play every Thursday and Sunday until their second bye on the final Thursday of the season (Feb. 25).
The Big Ten slate will feature 18 league games for the third-straight season, meaning Illinois will face every Big Ten team twice except for Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan comes to Assembly Hall on Jan. 28 for the only meeting between the two teams, and the Illini will face Michigan State in East Lansing on Feb. 18 for the lone match-up with the Spartans. The Fighting Illini's final home game is on Feb. 21 against Purdue, where they'll honor seniors Lacey Simpson, Jenna Smith and Whitney Toone.
At least two Fighting Illini games will be televised by the Big Ten Network (Jan. 10 vs. Minnesota and Feb. 21 vs. Purdue) but the season finale at Northwestern could be added as a wildcard game and more TV games could be added in the future.
The 2010 Big Ten Tournament will be held March 4-7 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and the NCAA Tournament's opening weekend is slated for March 20-23 at 16 different locations.
For ticket information, contact the UI Athletics Ticket office at 217-333-3470 or 1-866-ILLINI-1