Bollant open to in-state scheduling

Bollant open to in-state scheduling

CHAMPAIGN — During his five seasons at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Matt Bollant’s Phoenix teams annually faced the state’s other three Division I women’s basketball programs, including Wisconsin and Marquette.

“Which was great for Green Bay,” the first-year Illinois coach said.

As Bollant fills in future Illini schedules, can UI fans expect regular matchups with some in-state nonconference rivals?

“We’re open to it,” he said.

However, Bollant also places some stipulations on the scheduling of such games. For one, he isn’t inclined to play those contests on the other school’s court. And there is a limit, he says, to the financial guarantee Illinois would agree to for a visit by an in-state team.

“We want to play more home games here, and we want to play some guarantee games,” Bollant said. “But, at the same time, I don’t think you should have to give an in-state (school) $15,000 to (travel) 45 minutes to an hour. So some of those teams that wanted that amount, we don’t feel like that’s probably appropriate, so we’ve taken some teams a little bit farther away.”

Bollant indicated the Illini currently are scheduled to face two in-state nonconference opponents next season. Illinois will play at Bradley to complete a contract with the Braves, who visited the Assembly Hall this season. The Illini also have a game against  Illinois-Chicago at the United Center in Chicago as part of a doubleheader that includes a UI men’s game.

Bollant said he has had discussions with Illinois State about future matchups, but those talks failed. The Illini and Redbirds have met once each regular season since 2009, with the schools alternating as hosts. ISU visited the Assembly Hall in December.

“We tried to get them back here, but they need home games,” Bollant said. “We both wanted to play at home, and neither one was willing to give in.”

At this point, Bollant said, Illinois has scheduled four true road games for next season. Besides Bradley, the Illini will travel to Colorado and Georgia — two schools that visited Illinois this season. Illinois also will hit the road for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with the opponent yet to be announced.

“Four tough road games; that’s plenty,” Bollant said. “We would like to play the other nine (nonconference games) at home if we can.”

Given Bollant’s background at Green Bay, he said he can appreciate the perspective of midmajor programs when it comes to scheduling.

Programs in power conferences can be reluctant to schedule midmajors, particularly in-state rivals, if they’re not confident about winning, That wasn’t the case, however, in the Badger State. Bollant’s highly successful Phoenix teams not only played Wisconsin and Marquette five times apiece but went 3-2 against both the Badgers and Golden Eagles.

Now that Bollant is in charge of a high-major program, he says such in-state matchups are an option he’s open to, but not under any circumstance.

“At the same time, we have to think what’s best for Illinois.” Bollant said. “I can’t think, ‘Well, we’re going to schedule these teams because it’s good for them.’ That’s not our goal. Our goal is to make our program the best and to do what’s right for us.”

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AJF-WBBFan wrote on March 26, 2013 at 9:03 am

Whoever was in charge of snow removal at Assembly Hall should be FIRED!!! Why wasn't one of the primary parking lots, decently plowed?? Women's basketball draws lots of seniors & families & they were forced to push their cars out of the snow because there were not enough plowed parking spaces. DISGRACEFUL that fans of any Illinois team be treated with such disrespect & EMBARRASSING that fans of one of our in-state rivals had to experience how the IL Women's program is disregarded by its own home court! I realize it did snow several inches, but it had stopped by morning & the crew had all day to work on the lots. Once the plowed areas filled up, there was no place left to park but in areas which had not been touched by a plow. Of course, if the Men were playing, I bet the snow crew would have cleared every space in that lot, the others around the Hall, & all those lots across First Street, but since it was the Women's team, they just didn't bother.

On top of the horrible parking conditions, they ran out of programs. I heard EIU fans commenting on the parking conditions & lack of sufficient number of programs & wondering how did Ilinois get selected to host WNIT games.

I applaud Coach's efforts to set up home games at Assembly Hall, but why would a team want to come play where the Women's program is treated so shabbily by its own school?

jturner wrote on March 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

You should call in to turpin and tate the next time thomas is on and read him out.  He's always talking about the importance of the fan experience.  It sounds like you didn't have one.  He never knows any details of anything except fund raising, but at least he will have to listen to you.

Empire2Ed wrote on March 27, 2013 at 4:03 am


You have every right to be upset, it is disgracefull. However as a U of I employee I can tell you that the fans were not the only ones screwed by the snow service. Many employees have to park at the Assembly Hall and buss to their respective buildings. 

The blame for snow removal does not fall on the Athletic Department alone however. Facilities and Services run Snow Removal for the entire campus. I would highly recomend directing your complaint toward them as well as trying to call in and mentioning your frustration to Mr. Thomas when he is on penny for your thoughts. F&S did not plan ahead for the women's game as they do for other "more important" (please note the sarcasim) events. I hope this helps and I encourage other fans to voice their complaints, especially to the right people.