ISU in 2012 WNIT Preseason Tournament Field
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July 10, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State women's basketball team was selected as one of the 16 teams competing in the 2012 Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) to kickoff the 2012-13 season, as announced Tuesday.
The Preseason WNIT is an annual invitation-only tournament involving 16 of the nation's top women's Division I basketball teams. A team may participate only once in a four-year period. Additionally, only one institution per conference may play in the tournament in the same year. Teams are selected for the Preseason WNIT based on their program's expected success for that season, their relevant past, their conference standings, fan base and geographical location.
Eleven of the 16 teams competing in the 2012 Preseason WNIT Tournament are coming off of postseason berths. ISU will be joined by Davidson, Delaware, Duquesne, Georgetown, Grambling State, Iowa, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Morehead State, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Sacred Heart and Sam Houston State.
Illinois State's berth in the 2012 Postseason WNIT put the Redbirds in the postseason for the sixth-consecutive season. ISU made WNIT trips in five of the last six years and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2008. ISU's six-year postseason run is tied for the longest in school history, matching the six-straight trips from 1980-85.
Illinois State returns four starters from a 19-13 team that took second in the Missouri Valley Conference, after being picked to finish sixth. Head coach Stephanie Glance was named the 2012 Valley Coach of the Year, while Jamie Russell was named the Newcomer of the Year.
Glance led ISU to a second-place finish in conference play and led the Redbirds to their sixth-straight season finishing in the top-two of the Valley regular season standings during the 2011-12 season. Under her leadership, the Redbirds had four players who finished the season averaging double-digit scoring. Through two seasons at the helm of the Redbirds, Glance has led ISU to an overall record of 43-24.
Russell, who transferred to Illinois State from Wisconsin, was the first Redbird player to earn the Newcomer of the Year honors, as the junior transfer played a crucial role for ISU on both sides of the ball. Russell ranked second on the team with 13.1 points per game. She had 18 double-digit scoring efforts in ISU's last 22 games, including 10-straight double-digit performances, earning All-Valley First Team honors. The Rock Falls, Ill., native dished out 109 assists and recorded 82 steals during the season, leading the team in both categories. Russell also scored 30 points against Eastern Illinois on November 21, in only her third game as a Redbird.
The Preseason WNIT opens the women's college basketball season and will be played Nov. 9-18, in a three-game guarantee championship format. The bracket will be announced Tuesday, July 17.
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