March 16, 2010
ISU IN THE POSTSEASON WNIT
Illinois State is making its ninth appearance in the Postseason WNIT (1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1996, 2007, 2009 and 2010) and has a 10-14 all-time record in the tournament. Last season, ISU won three home games and reached the semifinals, the deepest postseason run in school history. The Redbirds beat Louisiana Tech, Marquette and Indiana before falling at Kansas.
The all-time series between Illinois State and Butler is tied, 1-1. The two teams played a home-and-home series in 2002 and 2003. Butler beat ISU in the first meeting in Redbird Arena, 59-57, and the Redbirds won the following season at Butler, 83-69. ISU is 23-11 against Horizon League team, beating league members UW-Milwaukee and Illinois-Chicago earlier this season.
Illinois State's portion of the 2010 WNIT bracket is loaded with familiar foes. Missouri Valley Conference members Creighton and Missouri State made the 64-team field along with ISU. Also included in the ISU portion of the bracket are Eastern Illinois and Illinois, teams ISU played earlier this season, and Marquette and Kansas, teams ISU played in the WNIT last season. All four of the semifinal teams from last season's WNIT (Illinois State, Kansas, South Florida, St. Bonaventure) are back in the field this season.
Illinois State's berth in the 2010 Postseason WNIT puts the Redbirds in the postseason for the fourth-consecutive season. ISU made WNIT trips in three of the last four years and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2008. ISU's four-year postseason run is the second-longest in school history, behind six-straight trips from 1980-85.
DON'T DWELL ON IT
Illinois State has lost consecutive games all season, posting a 6-0 record in games after a loss. The Redbirds are averaging 73.7 points per game in those six wins, outscoring their opponents by 15 points per game, and have a 10.7 rebounding margin, holding opponents under 30 rebounds on average. Ashleen Bracey has performed the best after losses, averaging 17.5 points per game. She scored 24 points against South Dakota State after being held without a field goal in the loss to Illinois and poured in a career-high 32 points after ISU's 15-game winning streak was ended at Creighton.
REDBIRDS WIN MVC REGULAR-SEASON TITLE
Illinois State's win over Bradley (Feb. 28) clinched the program's seventh Missouri Valley Conference Regular-Season title. The Redbirds clinched a third-consecutive championship for just the second time (1988-90) and back-to-back outright conference titles for the first time ever. Illinois State has won the MVC Regular-Season Championship outright four times (1985, 1989, 2009, 2010). ISU finished the conference season with a 16-2 record for just the second time (1988-89).
REDBIRD SENIORS RECEIVE ALL-VALLEY HONORS
For the second-consecutive season, three Redbirds received All-Valley recognition. Ashleen Bracey and Maggie Krick were both named to the first team and Nicolle Lewis was named to the second team. Bracey and Krick are the eighth Redbird teammates to be named to the first team in the same season, the first since Jenny Schmidt and Corinne Vossel in 1998. Bracey received her second-career recognition after being an honorable mention pick in 2008. Krick continued to move up the All-Valley ladder with her third-consecutive honor. She was an honorable mention selection in 2008 and a second-team honoree in 2009. Lewis also earned her third All-Valley accolade to go along with an honorable mention pick in 2007 and a second-team selection last year. Bracey and Lewis were both also named to the Valley All-Defensive Team. All three seniors were also named Valley Scholar-Athletes.
PINGETON NAMED RAWLINGS MVC COACH OF THE YEAR
Illinois State head coach Robin Pingeton was named the Rawlings Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year for the second time in her seven-year career in the conference. She won it for the first time in 2004, her first year in the conference. Pingeton became just the sixth coach to win the award more than once in its 26-year history, along with Jill Hutchison (Illinois State), Cindy Scott (Southern Illinois), Cheryl Burnett (Missouri State), Lisa Bluder (Drake) and Jim Wiedie (Indiana State). She led Illinois State to its third-straight MVC regular-season title and second-best conference record ever. She also moved into the top-10 in the Valley in overall and conference wins.
PINGETON NAMED WBCA REGIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR
Illinois State head coach Robin Pingeton was named a Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Regional Coach of the Year March 16. Pingeton, recognized in Region Six, is one of eight finalists for the WBCA Coach of the Year Award. Region Six consists of the Missouri Valley, Big 10, Horizon League and Chicago State.
TONIGHT ON 20/20
With the 80-63 win at Southern Illinois, Illinois State earned its 13th 20-win season. The Redbirds have won 20 games in four-straight seasons for the first time ever, surpassing the three-consecutive from 1983-85 and 1988-90. The Redbirds reached the 20-win plateau in just 25 games, tied for the third-fewest games ever, and their 23 regular-season wins tied for the second-most all-time (1984-85, 2007-08). The recent success is even more remarkable considering that in the 16 seasons between 20-win seasons (1991-2006), ISU averaged just 11.6 wins per year. A win over Butler would make Illinois State the first Valley school to win 25 games in three-straight seasons.
On Feb. 20, both the Illinois State men's and women's basketball teams won their 20th games of the season. Illinois State is one of nine schools to have both its men's and women's basketball teams win 20 games in three-consecutive seasons: Baylor, Duke, Gonzaga, Illinois State, Michigan State, Temple, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Xavier.
Illinois State was able to achieve another 20-win season with a 15-game winning streak, which included 14-straight Valley wins, during January and February. Both streaks were the second-longest in school history, falling just short of a 16-game winning streak in 1988-89 . The Redbirds have had a double-digit winning streak in each of the last three seasons, the first time that has occurred in program history.
Illinois State had the most efficient offense in the Valley, leading the conference with a 44.8 field goal percentage during the regular season. ISU shot better than 40 percent from the field in 22 games, including six when it made more than half its shots. Nicolle Lewis led the conference in field goal percentage (56.0), followed closely by Ashleen Bracey in third place (50.0). The Redbirds shot better than 40 percent in every game during their 15-game winning streak, propelling them from 166th in the nation in field goal percentage to 23rd.
Illinois State's defense has also fueled the success this season. The Redbirds had the best field goal percentage defense (36.8) and scoring margin (9.4) in the Valley this season. Of ISU's 24 wins this season, 20 have come by double-digit margins. The Redbirds held Valley opponents to 61.1 points per game, the second-lowest average in the conference.
THAT 70'S SCORE
This note is brought to you by the number 70; a key number in determining a Redbird win or loss. ISU is 17-1 when scoring 70 points or more and 7-5 when failing to reach 70 points. The Redbirds are 21-5 when holding their opponent under 70 points.
FREEBIES, BUT GOODIES
ISU is cashing in its free throws this season and is on pace to shatter the school's free throw percentage record. The Redbirds rank first in the Valley and second in the nation in free throw percentage (80.5) and have four players ranked in the top-15 in the conference. The Redbirds are averaging 14.5 makes per contest and have made 20 free throws in eight games. ISU was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line at Evansville, marking the eighth perfect game in school history. The Redbirds have shot less than 70 percent from the charity stripe just twice this season.
BRACEY DIGS THE VALLEY
Senior Ashleen Bracey really stepped up her game during Missouri Valley Conference play. In conference play, Bracey ranked third in scoring (16.7 ppg), second in field goal percentage (54.0), third in field goal percentage (90.7) and fourth in rebounding (8.7 rpg). After not recording a double-double in non-conference play, Bracey had eight against Valley opponents; coming one rebound short in four other games. She has won four MVC Player of the Week awards, the most in the conference this season. She was also fourth in the Valley overall in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg).
BRACEY TOPS IT ALL
Senior Ashleen Bracey ended the regular season as ISU's leader in scoring (15.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg). One Redbird has led the team in both scoring and rebounding 16 times in school history, the last being Holly Hallstrom in 2005-06.
Coming into the season, Illinois State knew it would need to rely on the senior trio of Ashleen Bracey, Maggie Krick and Nicolle Lewis for success. The trio has stepped up big, making up the top-three Redbird scorers and rebounders; combining for 58.5 percent of the ISU scoring production and 49.7 percent of its rebounding. One of the trio has led ISU in scoring in 28 of the 31 games this year and all three players ranked in the top-15 in the Valley in scoring and rebounding. The win over Indiana State (Feb. 6) was the trio's 91st together, making them the winningest senior class in Illinois State history.
For the fourth time in program history, Illinois State has three players on one team who have scored 1,000 points in their careers. Seniors Ashleen Bracey, Maggie Krick, Nicolle Lewis are all members of the 1,000-point club; with Krick and Lewis reaching the milestone last season and Bracey becoming the 25th member against Missouri State (Feb. 14). The trio is also the first senior class consisting of three 1,000-point scorers. There have been three previous seasons with three 1,000-point scorers on one team (1989-90: Char Govan, Cindy Kaufman, LuAnn Robinson; 1997-98: Jenny Schmidt, Valarie Trame, Corinne Vossel; 2008-09: Kristi Cirone, Krick, Lewis).
BRIGHT LIGHTS OF BROADWAY
Illinois State sophomore Katie Broadway missed the first five games of the season with a broken wrist and started out slow when she returned, but once January came around, she started to light it up. Broadway averaged 9.4 points per game and made 37 of her 42 three-pointers in the final 17 games of the regular season. She scored a career-high 20 points at Indiana State, making six three-pointers, and scored in double-figures in seven other games. She made multiple three-pointers in 10 games and led the Valley in three-point field goal percentage (43.3). This season, she has more than doubled her scoring output and has started the last eight games. In the Valley Tournament win over Indiana State, Broadway led ISU in scoring for the first time with 15 points.
Nicolle Lewis: QUEEN OF THE BLOCK
Redshirt senior Nicolle Lewis has continued her defensive dominance in her final season. A Valley All-Defensive Team pick for the first time, Lewis ranked second in the Valley in blocks (2.0 bpg) and fifth in defensive rebounds (5.3 rpg). Her 2.2 blocks per game in conference play led the Valley. She led ISU in blocks for the fourth-consecutive season (60), blocking multiple shots in 18 games. Lewis became the fifth player in Valley history to accumulate 200 blocks in her career and is currently in second place on the conference's all-time blocks list with 249.
Junior Amanda Clifton had the daunting task of replacing All-American point guard Kristi Cirone this season. After struggling through the beginning of the season, Clifton has excelled with a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last 21 games of the regular season. Clifton has 82 assists and 32 turnovers during that span, recording at least four assists and no turnovers in four games. She led the Valley in assist-to-turnover ratio both overall (2.0) and in conference play (2.3), ranking 19th in the nation overall.
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE
Illinois State is 15-1 this season when a player records a double-double. Seniors Ashleen Bracey and Nicolle Lewis have combined for 15 double-doubles this season, continuing their climb up the all-time rankings. All eight of Bracey's double-doubles have come in Valley play and she has20 in her career, the fourth-most in school history. Lewis' eight double-doubles give her 18 in her career, tied for the fifth-most in school history. Junior Shala Jackson recorded her fourth-career double-double at Eastern Illinois.
Under head coach Robin Pingeton, Illinois State has become a deadly three-point shooting team. The top-seven single-season three-point field goal records in Illinois State history are all Pingeton teams. From 1987-2003 (17 seasons), Illinois State had only seven teams make 100 three-pointers in a season. The Redbirds have made at least 100 in all seven years with Pingeton at the helm.
REDBIRDS PICKED SECOND IN MVC PRESEASON POLL
Illinois State was projected to finish in second place in the annual Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, conducted by the leagues coaches, sports information directors and media. Illinois State received 340 votes, falling just behind Creighton (393). The Bluejays (34) and Redbirds (6) were the only teams to receive first-place votes. ISU has been picked in the top-three in the preseason poll in each of the last three seasons. In three of the four previous years the Redbirds were picked second in the preseason poll, they wound up winning the MVC regular-season title.
KRICK NAMED PRESEASON ALL-VALLEY
Senior guard Maggie Krick was named to the Preseason All-Valley team for the second-consecutive year. Krick is ISU's leading returner in scoring, three-point field goals, assists, steals and minutes. She was a Preseason All-Valley pick before last season and was named to the All-Valley Second Team after averaging 12.6 points per game. She was joined on the preseason all-conference team by Megan Neuvirth (Creighton), Jordann Plummer (Drake), Kelsey Luna (Indiana State) and Casey Garrison (Missouri State). Neuvirth was named the Valley Preseason Player of the Year; the first year the award has been given on the women's side. All five players on the preseason team were All-Valley selections last year.