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    Illini Begin Practice for the 2012-13 Season
    Alexis Smith has settled into the Illinois point guard spot

    Alexis Smith has settled into the Illinois point guard spot

    Oct. 5, 2012

    Champaign, Ill. - Illinois women's basketball began regular practices this week at the Ubben Basketball Facility. The Illini, under new head coach Matt Bollant are just 25 days away from the team's first exhibition game vs. Marian on Oct. 30. Illinois returns four starters from last season, including All-Big Ten performer Karisma Penn.

    "We're off to a really good start," Bollant said. "I love the intensity level. It's definitely raised from when we got here in the spring. They're competing really hard and learning a lot."

    Illinois has been working primarily on the offensive side during individual and team drills throughout the fall, but this week the coaches put in the fast break and worked a lot on the defense.

    "We played a lot of four out shell learning ball side and help side," Bollant said. "I really love our system. Coach (Mike) Divilbiss does a great job with teaching the little things that we do. We had a really good first week, way ahead defensively from where I thought we might be. I'm excited about what we might be able to do on that side of the ball."

    In terms of the way the line-up might look, Bollant has been impressed with how Alexis Smith has done in stepping in at point guard. "I also think that KP (Karisma Penn) and Kersten (Magrum) will be two of the best posts in the Big Ten," he said.

    In addition to getting the team ready for the season, Bollant has been busy reaching out to the community and he has been pleased with the response.

    "The community really likes the Illini. They are really excited about women's basketball. I know when we put a good product on the floor, they are going to come support us."

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