UI facing another legendary program

UI facing another legendary program

   AUSTIN, Texas  Having played against the nation''s No. 1 team, the Illinois women''s basketball team gets a shot at what might be the game''s most storied program.

   Texas, boasting 23 national tournament appearances in 25 years, hosts Illinois at 3 p.m. today. It''s the second time the teams have met, Texas prevailing in a holiday tournament in 1987.

   The game also showcases two of the kingpins in women''s coaching.

   Illinois'' Theresa Grentz matches wits with Texas'' Jody Conradt, the all-time winningest coach in women''s college basketball history. Conradt, who takes a 729-224 record into today''s game, is the second female basketball coach to be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., after coaching pioneer Margaret Wade. She was one of 26 charter members of the Women''s Basketball Hall of Fame last summer.

   The Longhorns, however, haven''t been a factor lately on the national scene. They come into today''s game unranked and losers in seven of their last nine games against Top 25 teams. Plus, they are still searching for some help for guard Edwina Brown, a preseason candidate for the Naismith Award.

   "We are way too reliant on Edwina Brown," said Conradt, whose young squad includes one senior (Brown) and seven sophomores.

   Brown was one of two collegians on last summer''s Pan American Games team, picked as the starting point guard for coach Nell Fortner''s squad. Brown led the team in assists and steals and finished second in scoring (13.3 points a game) and rebounding (5.1).

   For the Illini, it''s a challenging matchup after watching Connecticut guard Kennitra Johnson score 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting in Tuesday''s loss. She made four of six three-point tries for the Huskies.

   "That three-ball hurt us," Grentz said.

   It was similar to the 1998 season, when Illinois failed to create sufficient defense on the perimeter. Opponents made 164 three-pointers a year ago (Illinois made 122).

   Connecticut made 6 of 10 three-point tries in the second half of Tuesday''s game.

   That leaves Texas freshman Alisha Sare as a prime target. Sare has 15 field goals this season, 10 from three-point range.

UI at Texas, 3 p.m.

Texas (4-2)

Name

Ht.

Yr.

Avg.

F

Edwina Brown

5-10

SR

25.2

F

Dana Godfrey

6-0

SO

5

C

Tracy Cook

6-2

SO

6.8

G

Asha Hill

5-9

SO

8

G

JoRuth Woods

5-10

JR

10.6

No. 10 Illinois (5-2)

Name

Ht.

Yr.

Avg.

F

Tauja Catchings

6-1

SR

13.5

F

Susan Blauser

6-2

SR

15.8

F

Kylie Martin

6-2

SR

8.8

G

Allison Curtin

5-9

SO

19.2

G

Melissa Parker

5-9

SR

4.2

- Site: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas (capacity 16,175)

- Radio: WDWS 1400-AM.

- Series: Texas leads 1-0. Longhorns won 90-75 in a December 1987 tournament in Coral Gables, Fla.

- Coaches: Texas, Jody Conradt (612-162, 24th season); UI, Theresa Grentz (81-47, fifth season).

- The Illini win if: Blauser gets back on track. She scored four points against Connecticut, 11 against Notre Dame, nine against Duquesne. Thats not enough, especially against a Texas team that lacks decent post players.

- The Longhorns win if: preseason All-American Brown doesnt have to do everything herself. Longhorns need someone else to score, too.

- N-G prediction: Illinois 77, Texas 71.

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