Game 8 Notes: Illinois (6-1) at Wake Forest (6-0)
Dec. 1, 2009
Game 8 - Illinois (6-1) at Wake Forest (6-0)Big Ten/ACC Challenge // Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 // Winston-Salem, N.C. // 7 p.m. ET / 6 CT
On The Air
We're Going Streakin': The six-game winning streak is the longest for an Illinois team since the 1997-98 season, when the Illini won nine straight games from Dec. 12, 1997-Jan. 16, 1998. In addition to gunning for their seventh-straight overall win, the Illini are also looking for their fourth consecutive victory away from home.
What to Watch For: A few things to keep an eye on Wednesday night... ...Jenna Smith's next double-double will be the 39th of her career and move her to within one of the UI career double-doubles record. ...Smith needs 21 rebounds to move up to second on the UI career rebounding list past Jonelle Polk (933). ...Smith has scored in double-figures in 46 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak in the nation.
Big Ten/ACC Challenge
2009 Big Ten/ACC Challenge Schedule:
Wednesday, Dec. 2 #23 Georgia Tech at Penn State (BTN) 5:30 pm CT ILLINOIS at Wake Forest 6 pm CT Boston College at Iowa (BTN) 7:30 pm CT Smith Has Big Week: Wooden and Naismith Award candidate Jenna Smith had a big week for the Orange and Blue. Smith was named Big Ten Player of the Week (Nov. 30) for the fourth time in her career after averaging 20.3 points and 13.0 rebounds in three Illinois victories last week. She was also named MVP of the Cal Poly Holiday Beach Classic after leading Illinois to the tournament crown with 28 points and 17 rebounds in the title game vs. Alabama. Smith has posted six double-doubles in seven games this season and is averaging 20.1 points and 11.9 rebounds.
Comeback Kids: The Fighting Illini have posted come-from-behind victories in three-straight games, most recently overcoming a 15-point deficit against Alabama with 15:20 remaining. Illinois closed the game on a 30-6 run to come away with a 64-55 win over `Bama. The day before, the Illini trailed Cal Poly by as many as nine and were down four late in the second half before pulling away for a nine-point win. On Nov. 24 at Illinois State, the Illini trailed by seven at halftime before dominating the second half for a 66-55 win.
Getting Defensive: Coach Jolette Law teaches her teams to take pride in defense and this year's team looks to be buying into that philosophy. The Illini are holding opponents to just 31.4 percent shooting from the field, which ranks 10th in the NCAA. In Sunday's come-from-behind win over Alabama, Illinois allowed just six points over the last 15 minutes and held the Crimson Tide to 15 percent shooting in the second half. The Illini have held opponents to under 38 percent shooting in each game this season and to under 35 percent in the last six.
She's Diversified: Always known for her defense and versatility, senior Lacey Simpson has diversified her game even more this this year. She leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (3.88) while ranking third in the conference in steals (2.7) and fourth in three-point field goal percentage (.500).
Not Wasting Time: Freshman forward Karisma Penn made a big impact the minute she stepped on the floor for the Illini. Penn leads all Big Ten freshmen in scoring (13.3 ppg) and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Nov. 23 for her performance in two Illini victories. Penn averaged 19.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 blocks in wins over Central Michigan and Bradley to garner the accolade. Her stat line on Nov. 18 against CMU was impressive: 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks. She then followed that up with a career-high 21 points against Bradley on Nov. 22.
Receiving Votes: Illinois is receiving votes in the latest Associated Press poll for the first time this season. The Illini have six votes in the Nov. 30 poll, while Wednesday's opponent Wake Forest is getting 11 votes. Illinois has not been ranked in the AP top-25 since Nov. 27, 2000.
Time Change for Dec. 31: Illinois' Dec. 31 game against Penn State in Champaign has been picked up for broadcast by the Big Ten Network and will be pushed back one hour to 3 p.m. CT to accommodate a live broadcast. The game was originally set for 2 p.m. and was to be streamed at BigTenNetwork.com.
Scouting the Demon Deacons
The Illinois-Wake Forest Series: Wednesday marks the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Watch Out for Jenna
Cleaning the Glass: With 83 rebounds through the first seven games this season, Smith has upped her career total to 913, which is good for third place on the UI career list. She is 21 rebounds shy of passing Jonelle Polk (933) for second on the UI list and needs 102 to pass Cindy Dallas' total of 1,014 to become the school's all-time rebounding leader. Smith is also climbing up the Illinois offensive rebounds list as she currently sits in fourth place with 304.
Record Breaker: Smith has 1,686 career points to rank fourth on the UI career scoring list. She is 220 points behind Lisa Robinson's third-place total of 1,906 and is 404 points shy of breaking Ashley Berggren's Illinois career scoring record of 2,089 points. With a minimum of 22 games left this season, Smith needs to average 18.4 points per game the rest of the way to become the school's all-time scoring leader.
Smith already has the UI career blocked shots record of 173 and has a chance to finish atop several more categories when her career comes to a close. Take 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 173 1 173 0 Double-Doubles 38 2 40 3 Rebounds 913 3 1,014 102 Points 1,686 4 2,089 404 FG Made 639 6 815 178 Double Trouble: Smith has posted double-doubles in six of the first seven games of her senior campaign to bring her career total to 38. That total is tied for second on the Illinois all-time double-doubles list and ranks second among active Big Ten players behind only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender. Smith is now just two double-doubles behind Jonelle Polk's school-record total of 40.
Miss Consistency: Smith has extended her school-record streak of consecutive double-digit scoring games to 46 this season. That streak is the third-longest current streak in the nation behind only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender (74) and Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley (64). 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 74 of the last 75 games, with only a six-point outing against Michigan on Feb. 24, 2008, getting in the way of a 75-game streak.
Current Consecutive Games of 10+ points (through games of Nov. 30)
Rk Player, School Streak 1. Jantel Lavender, Ohio State 74 2. Andrea Riley, Oklahoma State 64 3. Jenna Smith, Illinois 46 4. Dawn Evans, James Madison 37 5. Janae Voelker, Oral Roberts 34 Big Ten Leader: With 1,686 career points and 913 career rebounds, Smith is the Big Ten Conference's active leader in both stat categories.
Simpson Steals the Show
Outside Improvement: Known primarily for her defense, Simpson worked hard on her offensive game in the offseason, particularly her outside shot. That work has paid off thus far, as she's shooting 51 percent from the field (29-of-57) and 50 percent from downtown (10-of-20). Simpson made just eight threes last season and shot 22 percent from behind the arc (8-of-37).
Second-Half Takeover: Simpson willed Illinois to victory on Nov. 28 against Cal Poly. The Illini trailed for most of the second half, but Simpson took over down the stretch, hitting 7-for-7 from the field and scoring all 15 of her points in the second half in the come-from-behind Illini victory.
She Did What?: Its not unusual for senior Simpson to put up a double-double (she had 10 last season and has 15 for her career), but the way she did it on Nov. 18 against CMU certainly was. Simpson collected 16 rebounds and dished out 11 assists in the UI victory. Only an off shooting night (1-8, 2 points) prevented her from getting the second triple-double in school history. In fact, Simpson's feat marked the only time besides Kim Brombolich's triple-double in 1982 that an Illini player posted double-figures in two statistical categories other than points.
Stop, Thief!: 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 2.71 steals per game.
She is already the school's all-time leader in steals with 274. 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.
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.
Illinois in the NCAA Rankings
Team Category Rank Stat FG Percentage Defense 10 .314 Blocked Shots 16 5.9No Sophomore Slump
There was a lot of talk about Illinois' talented freshman class heading into this season, but thus far, the sophomore class and second-year transfer Whitney Toone have proven they shouldn't be overlooked. Toone has provided a big spark off the bench with her defensive intensity, particularly against Alabama on Nov. 29 (career-high three steals, five offensive rebounds, four points and three assists). In addition, sophomore's Macie Blinn and Fabiola Josil have been very effective as of late. Blinn is hitting 46.7 percent from three-point range this season and Josil has provided steady ball handling and leadership at the point.
Karisma Penn has started all seven games and is averaging 13.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the week on 11/23 after putting up 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks against CMU on 11/18 before dropping a career-high 21 points against Bradley. Her presence inside is taking some pressure away from All-American center Jenna Smith.
Adrienne Godbold has played big minutes in all seven games and started four. She is averaging 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, but more importantly is active defensively. She broke out for 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 2-of-2 from downtown against Siena.
Kersten Magrum has played 70 minutes in the first seven games and is contributing 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. She scored her career-high of seven points all in the first half of the 11/28 win at Cal Poly.
Brianna Jones played 26 minutes during the opening week and chipped in 3.0 points and 1.0 rebounds per game while hitting 3-of-6 from the field. She has missed the last four games with an injury but is expected to return soon.
New Look Illini
Utilizing the Bench: Coach Jolette Law has taken advantage of her full roster this year after being limited to only nine players a year ago. Law is getting 19.9 points per game from her bench this season and the bench has contributed 17 or more points in six of seven games thus far. Last year, the Illini bench averaged only 6.3 points per game and the season-high was 17.
Moore Out: 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 Nov. 15 confirmed the tear.