Illinois State is 18-10 all-time in Missouri Valley Conference openers and has won five-straight.
Dec. 28, 2010
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State women's basketball team returns to Redbird Arena to open Missouri Valley Conference play, as the Redbirds host Southern Illinois Friday at 6:05 p.m. and Evansville Sunday at 12:05 p.m.
Illinois State is 18-10 all-time in Missouri Valley Conference openers and has won five-straight. The last time ISU lost a conference opener was against Southern Illinois during the 2005-06 season, when the Salukis won, 87-65, at Redbird Arena, which also happened to be on Dec. 30.
The Redbirds are looking to win their fifth-straight matchup against Evansville and win their fifth-straight game in Redbird Arena against the Purple Aces.
ILLINOIS STATE-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SERIES
Illinois State leads the all-time series with Southern Illinois, 48-38. In the longest running series in the school's history, Illinois State has played Southern Illinois annually since 1972. The Redbirds went 22-5 against the Salukis through 1985. After that, SIU posted a 29-13 record in the series, including a string of 12-straight wins. The Redbirds have won seven-straight over the Salukis and haven't lost to SIU in Redbird Arena since 2008.
ILLINOIS STATE-EVANSVILLE SERIES
Illinois State leads the all-time series with Evansville, 23-12. The series began when Evansville joined the Valley in 1995, with ISU winning the first eight meetings. Illinois State holds a slight 15-12 advantage since then, including 10 wins in the last 12 games. The Redbirds are 10-7 all-time against the Purple Aces at Redbird Arena, winning the last four matchups. ISU has swept the last four regular-season series.
In ISU's loss to Michigan (Dec. 22), 76-59, four Redbirds recorded double-digit scoring performances, which hadn't been done since last season against Missouri State (Feb. 12). Katie Broadway led the Redbirds with 18 points, while Jamie Russell netted 17 points. Alexis Jenkins and Candace Sykes each added 10 points in the game. Each of the four Redbirds has had multiple double-digit games during the 2011-12 season.
THAT WAS TOUGH
The Redbirds enter Missouri Valley Conference play with a 5-6 non-conference record, but Illinois State had one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the Valley. Five of ISU's six losses came from schools in the top-six conferences in college athletics. The Redbirds fell to three Big Ten schools (Northwestern, Illinois and Michigan), a Pac-12 school (Arizona State) and No. 21 ranked DePaul from the Big East. Illinois State's five wins were all won by double-digit margins.
HERE WE GO
With the non-conference schedule wrapped up, the Illinois State women's basketball team is ready to open the 2011-12 Missouri Valley Conference schedule. The Redbirds hope to open the conference schedule with a win, like they have the last few seasons. ISU has opened Valley play with a win the last five-consecutive seasons. The last time the `Birds opened the conference season with a loss was during the 2005-06 season, when they fell to Southern Illinois (Dec. 30), 87-65, in Redbird Arena.
PLAYING THE FIELD
When examining Illinois State's wins and losses, a lot can be said about how the Redbirds play the field. In the five wins, ISU is shooting 45.9 percent from the field (134-292). In the six losses, the field goal percentage drops to 37.2 percent (124-333). The Redbirds are also scoring 15 points less in their losses (59.0 ppg) than in their wins (74.0 ppg).
SHE CAN DISH IT, SHE CAN TAKE IT
Jamie Russell has both a selfish and a giving personality. She leads the Redbirds in both assists (45) and steals (25) on the season, ranking in the top-five in the Valley in both categories. She is third in the conference in assists per game (4.1) and in steals per game (2.3). She is averaging 3.3 assists and 3.0 steals in the last three games.
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
So far this season, Illinois State has struggled taking care of the basketball, averaging 16.3 turnovers per game. The Redbirds have committed double-digit turnovers in every game. Redbird opponents are taking full advantage of the miscues, averaging 17.3 points off turnovers per game, including Eastern Illinois' 26 points made off of Illinois State turnovers in the Redbird loss (Nov. 21), 83-69.
UNDER THE BASKET
Marley Hall had been a strong threat for Illinois State in the paint and Maddie Oliver was able to add minutes off of the bench, but Michigan proved to be too much for the duo to handle down low, as Hall scored only four points and grabbed three rebounds in 30 minutes of play. Oliver was held scoreless and wasn't able to bring down any boards in the 76-59 loss on Dec. 22. The Redbird forwards look to avenge their most recent performance in the conference opener.
BALANCED SCORING ATTACK
The Redbirds are scoring 65.8 points per game through 11 games and have had a balanced scoring threat during the 2011-12 season. Seven Redbirds have recorded double-digit scoring performances, including Katie Broadway, Marley Hall, Alexis Jenkins, Jamie Russell and Candace Sykes, who have multiple double-digit efforts. Broadway, Hall, Russell and Sykes have each tallied 20-plus point games, and Russell scored 30 points against Eastern Illinois (Nov. 21). In ISU's win against Arkansas State (Dec. 2) and Western Kentucky (Dec. 9), nine Redbirds scored in the wins, the most ISU players to score in a game this season.