Bollant Debut: Evansville preview

Bollant Debut: Evansville preview

Evansville (1-0) at Illinois (0-0), 2 p.m. today, Assembly Hall
The Lineups
Illinois
STARTERS
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Alexis Smith  So. 5-9 1.0
G Amber Moore  Jr. 5-11 9.3
G Ivory Crawford  So. 5-10 6.6
F Kersten Magrum  Jr. 6-1 11.4
F Karisma Penn  Sr. 6-2 13.4
FYI: Smith shot 72.7 percent (16 of 22) in two exhibition games
OFF THE BENCH
G McKenzie Piper  Fr. 6-0  —
F Taylor Tuck  So. 6-0 0.9
F Nia Oden  So. 5-10 1.2
(Note: Illini scoring averages for 2011-12 season)

Evansville
STARTERS
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Khristian Hart    So. 5-8 19.0
G Laura Friday      Fr. 5-6 0.0
F Meagan Collins  Sr. 6-0 17.0
F Taylor Ware     Sr. 5-9 0.0
C Samantha Heck   Sr. 6-2 6.0
FYI: Hart scored career-high 19 on Friday in 54-45 win at Ball State
OFF THE BENCH
G Juliann Miller        So. 5-8 3.0
F Chelsea Falkenstein   Sr. 6-0  6.0
G Kat Taylor            So. 5-6  3.0

Details
TV: none
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM (Dave Loane (play by play) and Mike Koon (analyst)
Series: first meeting
FYI: It’s a milestone year for Loane, who begins his 25th season as the voice of Illini women’s basketball.

Storylines
1
After guiding Wisconsin-Green Bay to national prominence, Matt Bollant makes his coaching debut with the Illini. Bollant had a crazy good record in five seasons at the Phoenix helm, going 148-19 and winning 85 of 90 Horizon League games. His Green Bay teams also made the last four NCAA tournaments, a place Illinois hasn’t been since 2003.

2.
For Illini fans who grumbled that their team played so few nonconference home games last season, this year is payback. Starting today, Illinois will take its home court eight times before the Big Ten race begins. Last season, that number was three. Among the tasks on Bollant’s to-do list is to develop of mentality of defending the home court. His first Illini team will get plenty of practice.

3.
We’re not sure how much could be learned from Illinois’ two exhibition games. The opponents were so overmatched that the Illini outscored Marian (Ind.) and Concordia (Ill) by a combined 209-66. We’re guessing Illinois won’t be forcing an average of 46.5 turnovers per game against Division I foes. It gets tougher — in some cases, much tougher — from here, but we at least know this: the Illini do play hard.

Prediction:
This is the first meeting between the schools, but Bollant is no stranger to the Aces. From 1997-2000, he served as an assistant to Kathi Bennett at Evansville. During the last two of those seasons, the Aces reached the NCAA and WNIT tournaments. These are not those Aces. Evansville went 5-25 last season and hasn’t won more than eight games since the 2008-09 campaign. Illinois 74, Evansville 51

Jeff Huth

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