Women's Basketball Game 1 Notes: Evansville
Nov. 8, 2012
Champaign, Ill. -
Quick Hits Illinois women's basketball begins the Matt Bollant era on Sunday vs. Evansville. Bollant becomes the eighth head coach in the program's 39-year history. He brings a 282-55 overall record in 10 years as a head coach, both at Bryan College (2002-07) and Green Bay (2007-12). Bollant posted a 148-19 mark in five seasons at Green Bay, which included an 85-5 mark in the Horizon League. The Phoenix made four straight NCAA Tournaments, winning four tournament games combined in the last three seasons.
Of the previous eight coaches, Laura Golden, Theresa Grentz and Jolette Law each posted wins in their debuts coaching at Illinois.
Although Illinois has never faced Evansville, Bollant has ties to the school, serving as an assistant coach for the Purple Aces from 1997-2000 under head coach Kathi Bennett. Evansville reached the NCAA Tournament in 1999 and the WNIT in 2000.
The entire Illinois coaching staff spent their last seasons in the NCAA Tournament. Bollant, associate head coach Mike Divilbiss and director of basketball operations Jessica Abitz each came directly from Green Bay, where the Phoenix have been in the NCAA Tournament the past four seasons. Video coordinator Celeste Ratka was an All-American for Green Bay, graduating in 2011 before playing last season in Poland and Sweden. LaKale Malone comes to Illinois from Texas where the Longhorns made the tournament. Last season as an assisant for Michigan, Tianna Kirkland helped the Wolverines to their first NCAA Tournament since 2001.
Sophomore Alexis Smith is making her first collegiate start at point guard after seeing limited action as a freshmen. The West Islip, N.Y., native has been stout in the two exhibition victories, combining for 36 points, 13 assists and nine steals while shooting .727 (16 for 22) from the field.
Sunday's match-up is the first of three games against the Missouri Valley this season. The Illini also host Bradley (Nov. 15) and Illinois State (Dec. 21).
Evansville returns three starters from a team that went 5-25 in head coach Oties Epps first year. Epps is familiar with the Big Ten, having spent three years as an assistant under Lisa Stone at Wisconsin.
Sunday is Military Appeciation Day with free admission given to anyone with a military ID.
ILLINI DOMINATE EXHIBITION FOESThe new Illini coaching staff promised a fast-paced offensive with an aggressive in-your-face defense. That showed in the two exhibition games, an 89-37 victory over Marian Univeristy and a 120-29 win over Concordia. Here are some of the numbers:
The Illini forced 93 turnovers, including 53 against Concordia
Illinois combined for 209 points while giving up 66
Karisma Penn averaged 19.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game with three blocks and 12 steals.
The Illini made 11 three-pointers vs. Concordia.
Illinois had 73 points off turnovers vs. Concordia
Career Record UpdateSeveral Illinois players are moving up career lists. Senior Karisma Penn is second on the career blocked shots list, 10th on the career rebounding list and 14th on the career scoring list. Junior Amber Moore is fifth on the all-time career three-point list. She had the fifth (65) and seventh (54) best three-point seasons in school history in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, respectively.
Illinois' Career 3-Point Field Goals Made List Made 3PT FG Player Years 1. 214 Lori Bjork 2005-08 2. 194 Krista Reinking 1994-98 3. 168 Mandy Cunningham 1990-94 4. 133 Melissa Parker 1996-00 5. 121 Amber Moore 2009-
ILLINOIS RETURN FOUR STARTERS FROM 11-12Illinois returns four starters and nine letterwinners from last year's club. Overall, the Illini return:
75.7 percent of their scoring
76.2 percent of their rebounding
91.8 percent of their three-pointers
67.9 percent of their steals
83.8 percent of their block shots
63.8 percent of their assists
ILLINI OFFER 18 HOME DATES IN 2012-13From the start of the season until Jan. 6, the Illini will venture away from home just three times, to the Junkaroo Jam on Grand Bahama Island (Nov. 23-24), to Texas Tech (Dec. 5) and Memphis (Dec. 9).
The Illini open the Junkaroo Jam against Tulsa and will either meet Iowa State or Loyola Marymount the following day. Coaches Bollant and Mike Divilbiss are familiar with the Cyclones. While at Green Bay, the duo nearly helped engineer an upset of Iowa State in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Ames, forcing 34 Cyclone turnovers. ISU won the contest 65-62 to reach the Sweet 16.
Illinois faces nine teams who made the NCAA Tournament last year, including two of the them twice, and a pair of teams (Texas Tech and Memphis) who played in the WNIT.
Eight of Illinois' 18 home games are on weekends, including a pair of Saturday games -- against Colorado (Dec. 1) and Indiana (Feb. 23).