What happened at Penn State? Is Matt Bollant's team still in the NCAA picture? What's Kevin Hambly up to these days? Ask beat writer Jeff Huth anything at any time and he'll respond during his 11 a.m. Friday chat.
Welcome to our weekly chat on Illini women's basketball and volleyball. We'll get started in a few minutes.
Matt Bollant's team will play a rare Big Ten Saturday game tomorrow, when Indiana visits the Assembly Hall. The 2 p.m. game will be carried live by the Big Ten Network.
-- Jeff Huth
So what can you tell us about Hambly's latest recruit, McKenna Kelsay? I know that her sister plays at Michigan State and that she comes from a good high school program. Will she be a walkon?
First of all, thanks for the tip. Learned about this through your question.
Kelsay is a 5-foot-8 senior setter at Wheaton St. Francis, which won the IHSA Class 3A state title last fall. For our Champaign-Urbana area readers, St. Francis was the team that defeated Centennial in the state semifinals.
It's my understanding that Kelsay's decision came down to Illinois and Michigan State. As you note, her sister -- Kristen Kelsay -- plays at Michigan State. Kristen is a junior who led MSU in assists last season in a 6-2 attack.
McKenna was selected to the News-Gazette's 2012 All-State Special Mention 50 list.
I have several calls out to McKenna and her high school and club coaches, so hope to learn more about her decision, including whether she is a walk-on or has been promised scholarship aid.
Do you think the Illini WBB team needs to win a game in the B1G tournament? I kind of feel like if they beat Indiana and Ohio State, we should be good. What do you think?
I agree with you that if Illinois wins two of its last three Big Ten regular season games, it should be solid for an NCAA tournament bid. That would give the Illini 10 wins in a conference that has a strong RPI.
Should Illinois stumble down the stretch and then lose in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, I think it gets kind of iffy. If nothing else, that would hurt its seeding prospects for the NCAA tournament.
If you take a glass-half-full outlook, a 3-0 run to end the regular season certainly isn't out of the question. Indiana and Ohio State both have losing Big Ten records, and Purdue has really been faltering lately. Maybe the Illini go over to West Lafayette and pick off a victory against their longtime nemesis on the final day of the regular season.
Will the Illini women get invited to NCAA tournament for sure or might they miss out?
I think Illinois is in solid shape for an NCAA tournament at-large bid.
Its resume includes several impressive victories, including wins against Georgia, Nebraska (on the road) and Iowa. It has eight wins in a Big Ten Conference that has a high RPI. And except for Wednesday's blowout loss at Penn State, the Illini have been highly competitive in all of their conference games. In the four other defeats to Big Ten opponents, the margin was four or fewer points.
For me, the more compelling question is where the Illini will be seeded. Illinois could do itself a favor in that regard by going at least 2-1 in its remaining regular season games and then winning at least one game at the Big Ten tournament. Of course, two would be better.
I heard this morning (on Penny for Your Thoughts) that Matt Bollant offered a scholarship to a freshman on the St. Thomas More girls basketball team, but I dind't catch many details beyond that she's 6'2" or 6'3" already. Do you know who this is, and can you tell us anything about her?
Yes, Matt Bollant has offered a scholarship to Tori McCoy, a 6-foot-4 freshman from St. Thomas More. Under NCAA rules, Bollant can't discuss any recruits until after they have signed letters of intent with his program.
After practice today, Bollant indicated he was headed to the IHSA state tournament later in the day. With STM playing in the Class 2A semifinals tonight , it's safe to assume that McCoy is the primary reason Bollant will be in the Redbird Arena stands in Normal. And he'll want, I'm sure, to make McCoy aware that he's there to see her.
Looks like we've run out of questions, so we'll wrap this up. As always, we greatly appreciate your interest.