UI women's exhibition preview

UI women's exhibition preview

 

Cardinal Stritch at Illinois, 1 p.m. Sunday

 

Lineups

Illinois

STARTERS

P Name Yr. Ht.

G Sarah Hartwell  So. 5-10 

G Taylor Tuck Jr. 6-0

G Ivory Crawford Jr. 5-10

G Amber Moore Sr. 5-11 

F Jacqui Grant  Fr. 6-3

FYI: Moore, Crawford and currently injured junior guard Alexis Smith were starters in all 33 games last season.

OFF THE BENCH

G Taylor Gleason Fr. 5-8

F Sarah Livingston Fr. 6-2

G Ashley McConnell Fr. 5-9

Cardinal Stritch

STARTERS

P Name   Yr. Ht.

G Julie Raeder Sr. 5-10

G Alyssa Ross Sr. 5-6

G Emily Neitzel So. 5-8

F Michelle Piepenburg Jr. 6-1

F Becky Gilbreath Jr. 5-11

FYI: Led by Piepenburg, the Wolves return three of their four top scorers from last season.

OFF THE BENCH

G Emily Rudkin Jr. 5-6

G Amy Jorgenson So. 5-5

G Janessa Baker So. 5-5

 

Jeff Huth’s storylines

Coach Matt Bollant can only hope his Illini are getting a season’s worth of injuries out of the way early. Having already lost freshman guard Kennedy Cattenhead to a season-ending knee ligament tear in July, Illinois continues to deal with a spate of injuries. Freshman guard-forward Mikaala Shackelford required arthroscopic knee surgery and remains a couple of weeks away from returning. Redshirt sophomore guard Sarah Hartwell was sidelined early in training camp by a hamstring injury. At one point, three players were dealing with ankle sprains. And when the Illini take the floor today, junior guard Alexis Smith (foot) and sophomore forward Mckenzie Piper (concussion) will be unable to play. Bollant expects Smith to be available by the second game of the season — Nov. 12 at home against Valparaiso — but Piper’s status remains uncertain. “We’re a little banged up and trying to manage it and work through it,” Bollant said. The second-year Illini coach had been looking forward to a deeper bench and the option of a larger rotation compared with last season. “For the long term, we will have a little deeper (team),” he said. “But short term, the injuries will hurt us a little bit and keep us from probably being quite as deep as we had thought we might be at this point.”

 

Bollant views exhibition games as all about his team rather than preparing for an opponent. He’s eager to learn whether the Illini can translate what they’ve been working on in practices to a game, particularly one with officials on the court and fans watching. “Just see with the lights on what everybody looks like and how are they going to play with the pressure of a game,” he said. “See what we look like offensively and defensively and get a better feel for those things.” He’s also eager to see what kind of attendance the Illini will draw following a 19-14 season that represented an eight-win improvement over the previous campaign. Bollant noted that the program — which last averaged at least 2,000 fans per home game during the 2005-06 campaign — has sold about 1,020 season tickets. “And (I’m) really hoping for that number to continue to grow,” he said. “It’s important to us.”

 

Bollant was familiar with Cardinal Stritch from his days as a head coach at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., from 2002 to ‘07, so he thought of the Wolves while trying to line up an exhibition opponent. That can be a challenge, the UI coach said, “because we don’t give guarantee money for these” games. But the Milwaukee-based school was agreeable and will arrive with a large core of returning veterans from a team that went 27-8 last season and reached the second round of the NAIA Division II tournament. The coaches who voted in the preseason NAIA D2 poll took notice, ranking these Wolves 15th. This exhibition is not Cardinal Stritch’s first game of the season. The Wolves opened their regular season Friday at Viterbo (Wis.) University.

 

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