Nov. 30 women's basketball chat

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 11:00am

Can Matt Bollant's team finish in the upper half of the Big Ten? How's attendance at the Assembly Hall? Who is he recruiting? Ask women's college basketball beat writer Jeff Huth anything - he's chatting at 11 a.m. Friday but submit questions any time.

Jeff Huth (moderator) — 11:03 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

Welcome to our weekly chat on Illini women's basketball. We'll get started in a few minutes. This is a new beat for me so I'm still getting up to speed on some things, but we'll do our best to answer your questions and, if we can't give an immediate answer, we'll ask around.

As always, we appreciate your interest in all of the IlliniHQ chats.

-- Jeff Huth

PeterE — 11:04 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

Hey Jeff,

What is the story with this basketball team? They have now lost two. Once at home to an average Bradley team and were blown out in the Bahamas by Iowa State. Somehow I expected more influence by Coach Bollant on this team. They just don't have the fight of Bollant's past teams or even our men's team under Groce. Why is that?

Jeff Huth (moderator) — 11:20 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

PeterE:

There's no doubt the loss to Bradley was unexpected and didn't reflect well on the team or its coach. Judging by how long it took Bollant to show up for the postgame media conference, I suspect he was pretty upset and let his players know it.

I think your use of the word blowout requires some context.  With about 7 1/2 minutes left, Illinois trailed by only 44-40 against an undefeated Iowa State team then on the cusp of the Top 25. The Illini were very competitive with a perennial national power until things got away from them at that point.

Competitiveness is one of the qualities, I'm sure, Bollant is working to instill in this Illini team and in the program he wants to build. We saw it come out Thursday night in the Illini's win against Wake Forest after the Deamon Deacons took a 70-68 lead. Illinois counterpunched with a 13-3 scoring run and continued to build on its lead the rest of the way. I'd say that showed some fight.

The question going forward is, will the Illini continue to respond like that in similar situations? My guess is that it's a work in progress. We'll just have to wait and see.

Keep in mind, too, that in a lot of games talent simply wins out. There will be games this season when Illinois doesn't match the opponent's talent. There are times when "fight" can only take you so far.

 

MattK61 — 11:21 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

Hi Jeff,

 

Great team win last night. So many heroes -- Penn, Crawford, Smith (14 assists, wow!). But do we win it if Magrum's not there with her tough, physical play, and Piper has to guard/rebound against their bigs?

Jeff Huth (moderator) — 11:31 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

MattK61:

It would have been very difficult to defeat Wake Forest without the scoring and rebounding contributions Magrum provided. It was a pretty remakrable performance by a player coming back from a shoulder separation. Remarkable, too, that she played as many minutes as she did (29) after missing all of the previous three games. You had to wonder what Magrum's fitness level would be under the circumstances.

Regarding the defense on Wake Forest's bigs, it wasn't good, and Bollant admitted that afterward. The UI interior defense had no answer in particular for  Dearica Hamby (24 points, 13 rebounds). Hamby, a sophomore, entered with a 7.3 scoring average and had never scored more than 13 points in her college career.

I suspect there will be games when Illinois' interior defense is vulnerable against taller teams (Wake Forest had two 6-foot-3 posts), and Thursday night was one of them.

 

AJFWBBFan — 11:31 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

I have two questions:


Which Big 10 teams does IL have the best chance at defeating?


I've heard rumors there is a slim chance Adrienne GodBold could be eligible to play Saturday-any truth to this rumor? It would sure be great to have her back on the floor ASAP!


GO ILLINI!

Jeff Huth (moderator) — 11:49 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

AJFWBBFan:

It appears as though Penn State, Purdue, Ohio State and Nebraska are the class of the Big Ten, although every one in that group expect for Purdue took it on the chin this week in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Not a good showing by the Big Ten's supposed top tier.

I think it's too early to project which conference rivals Illinois had the best chance of beating. We're only six games into the Illini's season, and that's not a big sample size. Keep in mind that most of the players on the Illini roster were members of a UI team that went 5-11 in the Big Ten last season. The current team has a lot to prove after that performance, and I suspect a lot of other teams in the conference view Illinois in that context.

When I asked Matt Bollant about GodBold's return, he said it was mostly likely that her first game wold be Dec. 28 against Georgia, although there was a possibility she could be cleared to play as soon as Dec. 21 against Illinois State. Keep in mind that GodBold is ineligible for the first semester, and we're currently still in the first semester.

Konnie — 11:50 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

After six games and in your opinion, what is the most obvious improvement coach Bollant has made in the team.  Thanks for the chat.


 

Jeff Huth (moderator) — 11:58 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

Konnie:

Since I did not cover UI women's basketball last year, I have no reference point to compare that team to the current one.

I see a team that plays hard, and others who watched last season's team have remarked about how much energy and effort this team plays with compared to the 2011-12 version.

This team clearly has a talent for scoring. It's averaging 78.5 points, tops among Big Ten teams. And it clearly needs to take more steps defensively. It's allowing 70.7 points per game, most in the Big Ten by a wide margin. The highly successful program that Bollant built at Wisconsin-Green Bay had defense as one of its bedrocks. It's probably the most worrisome aspect about this Illini team right now. Illinois is not going to get away with simply outscoring teams when it faces top tier opponents.

Jeff Huth (moderator) — 11:59 AM on Fri, 11/30/2012

Looks like we've run out of questions so we'll end the chat now.

Appeciate the interest. Talk to you next week.

-- Jeff Huth