Women’s basketball releases this season’s game schedule

By Laura Hettiger

The University of Illinois announced Wednesday that the Illini women’s basketball team will be facing 17 opponents, plus the annual Orange & Blue Scrimmage and a duo of preseason matches, all taking place at the Assembly Hall.

The schedule includes 14 challenging road games. Highlights for the season consist of ten games against six opponents that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Illini are slated to play Florida and Iowa once each and have double meetings against Big Ten foes Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue.

“The 2006-2007 schedule is very challenging and will provide us with many opportunities to showcase our talents on the basketball court,” head coach Theresa Grentz said in a press release.

Grentz brings her overall record of 175-129 into her 11th season as head coach, with a Big Ten record of 87-73.

“There are 14 home games and each one will be a terrific chance for the fans to see a young, enthusiastic group that is ready to make some noise in the Big Ten,” Grentz said in a press release. “The goal is the NCAA tournament, and this schedule should help us achieve that goal.”

Before the home opener against Butler on Nov. 12, the women will start off the preseason with the annual Orange & Blue Scrimmage on Sunday, Oct. 29.

Also at the Assembly Hall, the Illini will host Clarion on November 3rd and finish preseason play with another exhibition against Lewis University on November 7th.

The Thanksgiving break schedule has also changed for the Illini. Instead of traveling during the week-long break, as in years past, to locations such as Colorado, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia, the team will stay home to face Northern Colorado (Nov. 22) and St. Joseph’s (Nov. 25).

Illinois opted to stay home during the break rather than travel because of the recent trip to Italy in late May.

The annual Lexus December to Remember Classic – a doubleheader at the United Center in Chicago for both the women’s and men’s Illinois basketball teams – will be December 9th with the women taking on Rhode Island while the men play Illinois-Chicago.

Big Ten play will ignite during the winter break with Illinois first hosting Penn State on Dec. 28. The Illini will face Iowa, Penn State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin once, while playing each of Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State and Minnesota twice.

Indianapolis is slated to once again hold the Big Ten Tournament during March 1-5.

The Illini are returning three starters from last year’s team. Five of the top six scorers from last season are back in the lineup including senior leaders Erin Wigley and Audrey Tabon.

Junior college transfer Rebecca Harris and freshman Jenna Smith are a pair of talented newcomers joining the Illini roster.

“The summer trip to Italy really brought the team together and built a foundation for us to work from as we head into the season,” Grentz said in a press release. “Our youth has gotten a little older and a little more seasoned, and it’s easy to feel the excitement around the team.”