Eboni Mitchell and the Illini host Central Michigan at Assembly Hall Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Nov. 17, 2009
On The Air
Video Streaming video at video.bigtennetwork.com ($2.99 fee) Radio: Live on Illini Sports Network - WDWS AM-1400 (Dave Loane and Mike Koon) Livestats: fightingillini.com GameTracker (free) and streaming audio (subscription)
Tied 2-2 Last Meeting: Illinois 82, CMU 44 on Dec. 28, 2004 in Champaign, Ill.
Illinois: Jolette Law, 31-37 overall and at Illinois (third season) CMU: Sue Guevara, 147-120 overall (10th season) and 24-38 at CMU (third season)
Tip-off: Illinois continues its three-game homestand when Central Michigan comes to Assembly Hall on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Illini are 1-1 after Sunday's 85-53 win over Siena, while the Chippewas are 0-1 after a season-opening 86-76 loss at No. 17 DePaul on Nov. 13.
Watch Online: Wednesday's game will be streamed live by the Big Ten Network at video.bigtennetwork.com for a fee of $2.99. It is the second of at least 23 Illini games that will be either televised or streamed live by the Big Ten Network this season.
What to Watch For: A few things to keep an eye on during Wednesday's game... ...Jenna Smith needs 21 points for 1,600 in her career ...Smith's next double-double will tie her with Cindy Dallas for third on the Illinois career-list ...Smith needs four free throws to move into fourth on the career free throws made list ...Smith has scored in double-figures in 41 consecutive games
Offense Explodes: After averaging just 52.8 points per game last season, the Illini have put up 78 and 85 points in the first two games and are shooting a sizzling 56.0 percent from the field for the season. The team's 62.5 percent shooting against Siena equals the fourth-best single-game shooting performance in school history.
Running and Gunning: In year three, Coach Jolette Law is finally able to play the type of defense and tempo that she prefers. The Illini broke out for 26 fast break points and scored 49 points off of 34 turnovers against Siena on Sunday. Law's prefers to let her defense create the offense and that is exactly what happened against the Saints.
Picking Up Where She Left Off: Former All-American and preseason All-Big Ten selection Jenna Smith hasn't missed a beat during the first part of her senior year. She's shooting 58.3 percent from the field and has posted double-doubles in the first two games while also helping the freshmen learn the ropes.
Winging It: The Illini have another sensational senior on the roster in addition to Smith. Lacey Simpson is back to her natural wing position and is thriving after playing power forward last season with the Illini's limited roster. She's averaging 11.0 points, 5.5 steals, 4.5 assists and is shooting 75 percent from the field thus far, including 80 percent from three-point land.
Frosh Making Impact: Last weekend marked the official debut for Illinois' highly-touted freshman class of Adrienne Godbold, Brianna Jones, Kersten Magrum, Amber Moore, Karisma Penn and Destiny Williams. The class was ranked No. 3 in the country by ESPN HoopGurlz and is already making a big impact this season. The freshmen combined for 30 points and 15 rebounds against Temple and 41 points and nine boards against Siena.
Utilizing the Bench: Coach Jolette Law has taken full advantage of her roster of 14 players this year after being limited to only nine players a year ago. All 14 played in the first half of the season-opener, and all 12 who dressed against Siena saw at least eight minutes of playing time. The bench has contributed 19 and 32 points in the first two games, respectively. Last year, the Illini bench averaged only 6.3 points per game and the season-high was 17.
Moore Out for Season: Freshman guard Amber Moore tore the ACL in her left knee late in the season-opening overtime loss at Temple and will miss the rest of the season. Moore had eight points in 22 minutes of action before going down with 4:01 left in the overtime period. An MRI on Sunday confirmed the tear.
Scouting the Chippewas
Central Michigan opened the season at No. 17 DePaul last Friday, losing 86-76 to the Blue Demons. In that game, Chippewas junior guard Shonda Long scored a game-high 30 points, hitting seven three-pointers. Central Michigan was picked to finish fourth in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference in the preseason polls, identical to its conference finish in the 2008-09 season. Senior wing Britni Houghton was named to the preseason All-MAC team after averaging 16.7 points and 5.1 rebounds as a junior. The Chippewas return four starters from a year ago, as sophomore forward Brandie Baker (12.1 points, 5.9 rebounds) and junior forward Kaihla Szynko (10.5 points, 9.8 rebounds) both were major contributors a season ago along with Houghton. CMU head coach Sue Guevara was formerly the head coach at Michigan from 1996-2003.
The Illinois-Central Michigan Series: The all-time series between the two teams is tied at 2-2, with Illinois owning a 2-1 advantage in games played at Assembly Hall. The teams have not met for five years, with Illinois winning 82-44 over the Chippewas on Dec. 28, 2004 in Champaign.
Watch Out for Jenna
National Radar: Senior center Jenna Smith, a former All-American and two-time first team All-Big Ten honoree, has been selected to three different national watch lists heading into the 2009-10 season. Smith is a preseason candidate for the State Farm Wade Trophy for Division I player of the Year, the Wooden Award, which also goes to the player of the year, and the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which focuses on the student-athlete on and off the court.
Big Ten Leader: With 1,579 career points and 850 career rebounds heading into Wednesday night's game, Smith is the Big Ten Conference's active leader in both stat categories.
Record Breaker: Smith's 1,579 career points places her fifth on the UI career scoring list. She is 511 points shy of breaking Ashley Berggren's Illinois career scoring record of 2,089 points, giving her a realistic shot of surpassing the mark (Smith has scored 640 and 573 points the last two seasons).
Smith already has the UI career blocked shots record of 162 and has a chance to finish atop several more categories when her career comes to a close. Below is a look at Illinois records Smith has a chance to break this season.
Smith in the Illini Record Book
Stat Total Rank Record Needs Blocks 162 1 162 0 Rebounds 850 4 1,014 165 Double-Doubles 34 4 40 7 Points 1,579 5 2,089 511 FG Made 603 6 815 213 A Model of Consistency: Smith has extended her streak of consecutive double-digit scoring games to 41 this season. That streak is the third-longest current streak in the nation behind only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender (68) and Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley (60). The streak started on Feb. 28, 2008, during her sophomore season and continued through all of last season. In all, Smith has scored in double-figures in 69 of the last 70 games, with only a six-point outing against Michigan on Feb. 24, 2008, getting in the way of a 70-game streak.
Current Consecutive Games of 10+ points
(through games of Nov. 16)
Rk Player, School Streak 1. Jantel Lavender, Ohio State 68 2. Andrea Riley, Oklahoma State 60 3. Jenna Smith, Illinois 41 4. Dawn Evans, James Madison 33 5. Janae Voelker, Oral Roberts 32 Double Trouble: Smith has posted double-doubles in the first two games of her senior campaign, going for 24 points and 10 boards against Temple and then 10 points and 10 rebounds against Siena to bring her career double-doubles total to 34. That total is second among active Big Ten players behind only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender. Smith's next double-double will tie her for third on the UI career-list with Cindy Dallas and she's just six shy of reaching Jonelle Polk's school record of 40 double-doubles.
Cleaning the Glass: With 20 rebounds through the first two games of this season, Smith has upped her career total to 850, which is good for fourth place on the UI career list. She is 47 rebounds shy of passing Lynnette Robinson for third on the list. Smith is also climbing up the school's offensive rebounds list as she currently sits in fifth place with 292, just four behind Sarah Sharp's fourth-place total of 296.
Rare Air: Smith is just the fourth player in school history to score over 1,500 points and grab 800 rebounds in a career, joining Jonelle Polk, Kendra Gantt and Tauja Catchings.
Simpson Steals the Show
Outside Improvement: Known primarily for her defense, senior forward Lacey Simpson worked hard on her offensive game, particularly her outside shot, in the offseason. That work has paid off thus far, as she's shooting 75 percent from the field (9-of-12) and 80 percent from downtown (4-of-5). Simpson made just eight threes all of last season and shot 22 percent from behind the arc.
Triple-Double Waiting to Happen: Simpson has been close to a triple-double several times in her career, including Sunday's game against Siena. She had seven points, six assists and six steals in only 14 minutes against the Saints, leaving one to wonder what kind of numbers she could have put up for a whole game.
Getting Defensive: Simpson led the Big Ten and ranked ninth in the nation in steals, averaging 3.13 per game last season. She became the first Illinois player named to the Big Ten's All-Defensive Team since the honor began in 2005-06. So far this year, she is averaging 5.5 steals per game.
Steals Record Falls: Simpson broke Allison Curtin's career steals record last season and currently has 266 for her career. Her season total of 97 steals in 2008-09 ranks No. 2 on the UI single-season list and her nine steals vs. IPFW on 11/14/08 set a new career-high and equaled the second most in a game in school history.
Rare Company: Simpson was one of only three players in the nation to average at least 3.0 steals and 9.0 rebounds per game in 2008-09. The other two were Louisville's Angel McCaughtry (9.3 rpg, 4.2 spg) and IUPUI's Jernisha Cann (10.9 rpg, 3.6 spg). Simpson averaged 9.1 rpg and 3.1 steals per game on the season.
College Grad: Simpson, a fifth-year senior, earned her bachelor's degree in sport management last May and is currently pursuing a master's degree in human resource education as she completes her final year of athletic eligibility.
This year's highly-touted, six-player freshman class was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation coming out of high school. All six - Destiny Williams (No. 8 HoopGurlz), Karisma Penn (No. 18 HoopGurlz), Adrienne Godbold (No. 36 Hoopgurlz), Brianna Jones (No. 43 Blue Star), Kersten Magrum (No. 149 Blue Star) and Amber Moore (No. 109 Blue Star) made their Fighting Illini debuts in the season-opener at Temple and, so far, several have made big impacts.
Karisma Penn scored a game-high 18 points and had four steals in the win over Siena on Sunday. Penn started the first two games of her UI career and is averaging 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Adrienne Godbold started both games and broke out for 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 2-of-2 from downtown against Siena. In the two games combined she's averaging 10.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and is shooting 67 percent from the field.
Kersten Magrum has played 32 minutes in the first two game and is contributing 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Brianna Jones played 20 minutes during the opening weekend and chipped in 3.5 points and 1.5 rebounds per game while hitting 2-of-3 from the field.
Last Time Out: Illinois 85, Siena 53
Illinois rebounded from the season-opening overtime loss at Temple in a big way Sunday afternoon, running all over Siena for an 85-53 victory at Assembly Hall. The Illini shot 62.5 percent from the field and forced 34 turnovers to win their 12th straight home-opener. A pair of freshmen led the scoring attack as Karisma Penn had a game-high 18 points and Adrienne Godbold added 14, while Jenna Smith notched her 34th career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in limited action.
The Illini were on fire offensively in the first half, hitting 18 of their first 24 shots (75 percent) overall and finishing the half shooting 68.8 percent en route to a 50-36 lead at the break. The 50 points in the half is the most since Illinois scored 50 in the second half of a 91-58 win over South Carolina on Nov. 23, 2007, and equals the highest point total in a half in the Jolette Law era at Illinois.
In the second half, the Fighting Illini came out with a mission: to shut down Siena defensively. They did just that, holding the Saints to just three points over the first 12 minutes to extend the lead to 72-39 with a 22-3 run. The stifling Illinois defense held Siena to just 3-of-23 from the field (13 percent) and forced 19 turnovers in the second half alone.
Illinois' freshmen were sensational as they combined for 41 points and 16-of-25 shooting (64.0 percent). The victory wasn't all about the freshmen, however. Senior leader Lacey Simpson was well on her way to a triple-double with seven points, six assists and six steals but played only 14 minutes because of first-half foul trouble and the large second half lead. Smith hit 5-of-7 from the field and scored in double-figures for the 41st consecutive game.
Illinois nearly broke the school record of 63.8 percent shooting for a game set in 1986, but two misses in the final 30 seconds left the Illini at 62.5 percent, equaling the fourth-best single game shooting performance in school history.