Seniors leave legacy of hard work

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Online Poster

By Derek Barichello

Seniors Angelina Williams, Tiffanie Guthrie and Jere Issenmann have not won a Big Ten title or an NCAA Tournament game, but they will all leave their college basketball careers with no regrets – they have given it their all.

When the three seniors graduate, that will be the legacy they leave.

“All three of us have worked hard,” Williams said. “We leave a lot of leadership.”

The rest of the team has followed the seniors’ lead.

“We showed them how to work through adversity,” Guthrie said. “We showed them how to be persistent, that there is gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Head coach Theresa Grentz said this year’s group of seniors is one of the best she has ever coached.

“They’ve been a terrific group,” Grentz said. “They have given their heart and soul to the program. They are true orange and blue, and I cannot believe it is their time to go. Their hard work, commitment and ability to be who they are is what they will be remembered by.”

Williams led the Illini on the floor, averaging 18.8 points per game, the best on the team. She will finish her career as the fourth-leading scorer in Illinois history.

Williams was the go-to player. Earlier this season, she hit a game-tying three pointer against Louisiana Tech. Williams also hit a game-tying three pointer which sent the game into overtime and made a baseline jumper to defeat Michigan 65-63 on Dec. 30.

Williams’ achievements on the court earned her a first team All-Big Ten selection, the Illini’s first since 2002.

“Angelina is very talented,” Grentz said. “Early on she was able to get by just on her talent alone. This season she has been concentrating on working every single night. She has great self-esteem in herself.”

Guthrie has been the Illini’s most reliable player this season. At one point, Guthrie, who averaged 15.7 points, scored in double digits in 19 straight games – the longest streak in the conference.

Guthrie is currently 12th all-time on the Illini scoring list with 1,331 points.

“Tiffanie is quiet,” Grentz said. “She has an extremely athletic and strong body. She works extremely hard. With Tiffanie, you can always count on her and trust her.”

Issenmann is the Illini’s three-point specialist. She has struggled this season, shooting just 13-of-63 from beyond the arc.

Although she has struggled, the Illini would not be where they are if it were not for her. She has contributed to the team in ways that do not end up in the box score.

“Jere is always spiritual and inspirational,” Grentz said. “She is always one comment away from keeping things real. She’s been a terrific leader for the team.”

The three seniors were honored at Sunday’s game against Michigan.

“It hit me all day Sunday,” Williams said. “I got emotional. I really appreciated all the fans. It’s been a great four years.”

All three of them have had good experiences and will miss playing at Illinois.

“We’ve learned a lot here,” Issenmann said. “We’ve all been through a lot together. It’s hard to leave your friends.”

Williams and Guthrie said they would like to continue playing basketball at the next level. While Guthrie and Williams hope to continue playing basketball, Issenmann said she will return to school and earn a doctorate.

All three agree that winning the Big Ten Tournament would be the icing on the cake.

“We want to go out fighting,” Guthrie said. “We never want to give up. If we end up losing, we want to have gone out there and fought as hard as we could, knowing we gave it our all.”