Bollant's up for challenge

Bollant's up for challenge

CHAMPAIGN — Since Illinois women's basketball coach Matt Bollant arrived in town in March, fans have been insisting they would attend some games this season. They'll have plenty of opportunities.

The schedule released Friday shows the Illini playing 17 times at the Assembly Hall, plus two exhibition games. That's a stark contrast to last season's schedule that featured 11 home dates.

"This is a basketball community. People like basketball here. If we can put a great product out on the floor that they'll enjoy watching, I think the fans will come," Bollant said. "We've got some Sunday games, some weekday games. We've got a lot of variety. There's no excuses not to come out and see some games."

The nine nonconference home games are highlighted by dates with Wake Forest, Colorado, Oregon and Georgia. In-state foes Bradley and Illinois State also will visit the Assembly Hall.

The Illini will spend Thanksgiving in the Bahamas playing Tulsa and either Iowa State or Loyola Marymount at the Junkanoo Jam. They'll also visit Texas Tech and Memphis.

"It's a tough schedule, a lot of BCS teams, a lot of good teams. Thankfully they're at home, so that will help," Bollant said. "It's a little early to judge, but we're home a lot and I like the fact that we're going to be challenged."

For a team that went 11-19 in a season that ended with coach Jolette Law being fired, the schedule is tough but one Bollant thinks his new group can handle. The Illini return Karisma Penn, Adrienne GodBold and Amber Moore, making the transition easier for the new staff.

"One of the things we keep telling them is we're not sure this has to take real long. They're going to determine that, but we're athletic enough to have success right now. As we add the skill and teach them how to work and if they do those things — it's hard to know right now — but it doesn't have to take that long," Bollant said. "The more we're around them, the more we feel it can happen quickly."

Oct. 30    vs. Millikin (exhibition)    7 p.m.
Nov. 6    vs. Concordia (exhibition)    7 p.m.
Nov. 11    vs. Evansville    2 p.m.
Nov. 15    vs. Bradley    7 p.m.
Nov. 18    vs. Cleveland State    2 p.m.
Nov. 23    vs. Tulsa (at Bahamas)    3:45 p.m.
Nov. 24    vs. TBA (at Bahamas)    TBA
Nov. 29    vs. Wake Forest    TBA
Dec. 1    vs. Colorado    2 p.m.
Dec. 3    vs. UAB    7 p.m.
Dec. 5    at Texas Tech    7 p.m.
Dec. 9    at Memphis    TBA
Dec. 12    vs. Oregon    TBA
Dec. 21    vs. Illinois State    TBA
Dec. 28    vs. Georgia    TBA
Jan. 2    vs. Purdue    TBA
Jan. 6    at Ohio State    TBA
Jan. 10    at Northwestern    TBA
Jan. 13    vs. Michigan State    TBA
Jan. 17    at Nebraska    TBA
Jan. 20    vs. Northwestern    TBA
Jan. 28    at Minnesota    TBA
Jan. 31    vs. Iowa    TBA
Feb. 3    at Wisconsin    TBA
Feb. 7    at Michigan    TBA
Feb. 10    vs. Minnesota    TBA
Feb. 18    vs. Wisconsin    TBA
Feb. 20    at Penn State    TBA
Feb. 23    vs. Indiana    TBA
Feb. 28    vs. Ohio State    TBA
March 3    at Purdue    TBA
March 7-10    Big Ten tourney (Hoffman Estates)

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