Women's Hoops Hosts Northwest Missouri State in Exhibition Game

Nov. 1, 2013

EXH 1: Illinois state vs. NW Missouri State
Date: November 3
Time: 1:05 p.m. CT
Location: Normal, Ill. (Redbird Arena)
Game Notes: Illinois State | NW Missouri State
Live Stats: GameTracker
Twitter: @ISUwbb

NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State women's basketball team will host Northwest Missouri State in an exhibition game at 1:05 p.m., in Redbird Arena Sunday afternoon. It is the only public exhibition game the Redbirds will play before the 2013-14 regular season gets underway.

Illinois State returns eight letterwinners from the 2012-13 team, which finished third in the Missouri Valley Conference and made its seventh-straight postseason appearance.

The Redbirds were projected to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll for the 2013-14 season, as voted on by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media. It is the first time in school history that the Redbirds have been picked to finish eighth and is ISU's lowest preseason projection since the 2003-04 season, when Illinois State was selected to finish ninth.

REDBIRDS-BEARCATS SERIES
Illinois State and Northwest Missouri State will meet for the first time in program history Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m., in Redbird Arena.

ABOUT NORTHWEST MISSOURI STATE
• Northwest Missouri State is located in Maryville, Mo., and has an enrollment of 6,485.
• The Bearcats are members of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Conference (Division II).
• The Bearcats finished 15-13 last season with a conference record of 8-10.
• Northwest Missouri State was picked to finish seventh in the MIAA preseason poll.

REDBIRDS PICKED EIGHTH IN MVC
The Illinois State women's basketball team was projected to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll for the 2013-14 season, as voted on by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media. Illinois State received
166 votes in the poll with its eighth-place selection, a change of pace since ISU has been picked in the top-five in 19 of the 31 preseason polls in conference history. It is the first time in school history that the Redbirds have been picked to finish eighth and is ISU's lowest preseason projection since the 2003-04 season, when Illinois State was selected to finish ninth. The 2003-04 squad went on to end the conference season in fifth place. Indiana State is the preseason favorite to win the conference with 378 points and 26 first-place votes and is followed closely by Wichita State (360). The Shockers garnered 13 first-place votes, while Northern Iowa (259), Drake (221) and Missouri State (216) rounded out the top-five teams. New-league member Loyola (211) is projected to finish sixth and collected one first-place vote. Bradley (194) was seeded seventh in the preseason poll, while the Redbirds finished ahead of Evansville (104) and Southern Illinois (91), who occupy the final two spots in the preseason poll.

THE SMITH ERA
The 2013-14 Illinois State women's basketball team will be led by head coach Barb Smith, as she takes over the helm of the Redbirds. Smith, who has 26 years of Division I collegiate coaching experience, is the seventh head coach in Illinois State history. Smith brings a tremendous pedigree into her second head coaching position and is known as a prominent recruiter, with over ten top-20 nationally-ranked classes. With over a quarter century of coaching experience, Smith is a true student of the game and knows about the rich tradition of Illinois State women's basketball. Most recently, Smith spent the 2012-13 season at Saint Louis University as the associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and offensive coordinator. At SLU, Smith directed and organized all recruiting activities, designed and implemented offensive strategies and was responsible for guard development. Smith has also been an assistant coach at Minnesota, California and Colorado. During Smith's five seasons (1997-2002) as the head coach at San Diego State, the Aztecs landed the highest-ranked recruiting class in program history and featured guard Claire Swinbank, the team's first WNBA prospect. Smith also built SDSU into one of the Mountain West Conference's top-defensive teams, with the 2000-01 Aztecs finishing second in the league in defense.

PREPARING FOR CONFERENCE PLAY
The Illinois State women's basketball team has never shied away from a tough non-conference schedule, and the 2013-14 season is no different. The Redbirds will play 11 non-conference games and one exhibition game. Seven of ISU's non-conference opponents made postseason appearances during the 2012-13 season, as DePaul, Tennessee-Martin, Princeton and Penn State qualified for the
NCAA Tournament, while Florida and Fordham played in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) with Northern Kentucky in the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI). ISU hopes the difficult non-conference schedule will prepare them for Missouri Valley Conference play.

BIG SHOES TO FILL
Illinois State will have to replace graduated seniors Megan Grace, Alexis Jenkins, Jamie Russell and Candace Sykes in 2013-14, which will be a tough task to overcome since Russell, Jenkins and Sykes led the team in several categories. The Redbirds will also have to replace Janae Smith due to a transfer. Russell, Smith and Sykes all earned all-conference honors, while Russell was named to the all-defensive team after the 2012-13 season. Smith was named the Valley Newcomer of the Year for her efforts in her only season as a Redbird.

FAMILIAR FACES
After finishing third in the Missouri Valley Conference during the 2011-12 season, the Illinois State women's basketball team returns several familiar faces from last year's squad in 2013-14. ISU lost four starters, but returns two starters and several others who have started during their ISU careers, as well as eight letterwinners. With the large group of returners, the Redbirds hope to keep the success from last season going into the upcoming campaign. Along with the returners, ISU will welcome four freshmen and Lindsay Smith, who will be eligible to play in December due to NCAA transfer rules.

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