Women’s basketball kicks off with Orange & Blue Scrimmage

By Dave Fultz

The women’s basketball team will take the court at Assembly Hall for the first time of the season on Sunday.

The Illini women’s basketball Orange & Blue Scrimmage is set to kick off their season at 4 p.m. against the men’s basketball practice squad.

The doors will open at 3 p.m., and admission is $2 for the general public and free for students.

“It’s a chance to get out there and play,” said head coach Theresa Grentz before practice on Wednesday. “You look forward to practice, but after five or six days it’s nice to get a break in the routine and get over to Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon.”

The Illini women’s basketball team will get that chance when they take the trip across Fourth Street from the Ubben Basketball Complex practice courts over to Assembly Hall.

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    They will take on the Illini basketball scout team for the third consecutive year in a match of five 10-minute periods with a running clock.

    Junior forward Danyel Crutcher is a two-year veteran of the Orange & Blue Scrimmage and is expected to play a lot of minutes for the Illini this season.

    “The last couple of years we dropped it,” Crutcher said. “We lost by a couple of points to the guys, but we hung in there. We are just excited to get out there and play. Practice is good, but it gets kind of old after a while. It’ll be great to get out to Assembly and actually get to play. Coach said it’s our first test.”

    The scout team is made up of eight players, seven of which are males. The one female on the team is recent UI graduate and last year’s starting point guard, Maggie Acuna.

    “We are going to scrimmage against the practice squad,” Grentz said. “And the girls look forward to that because it’s a different look. It’s all business and they are definitely looking forward to it.”

    Sunday’s scrimmage will be the team’s last action at Assembly Hall until they kick off the exhibition season against Clarion University of Pennsylvania and Lewis University on Nov. 3 and Nov. 7, respectively.

    The Illini will also be at home when they begin regular season play against Butler University on Nov. 12.

    The Orange & Blue Scrimmage is not only the beginning of the season for the players and coaches, but it is also the fan’s first opportunity to get a look at their team.

    Assembly Hall has served as a huge home court advantage for the women’s hoops team in recent years. Last season, Illinois won the fourth annual Big Ten SuperFan Cup.

    The award is given to the school whose women’s basketball program increases its average attendance the most.

    To win the award, the Illini drew 71 percent more fans in 2005-06 than they did in 2004-05.

    After Sunday’s scrimmage, the fans will be allowed to come down to the floor for an autograph session.

    “We won the SuperFan Award for the Big Ten, and I was very pleased with that,” said Grentz at media day. “Hopefully we are going to be able to continue those things. I think we have a team that people will want to see. These are players that young girls can get excited about.”