Women’s basketball learns from exhibition

Adam Babcock The Daily Illini Illinois junior guard Rebecca Harris, left, tries to dribble around Maggie Acuna during the Orange and Blue Scrimmage at Assembly Hall, Sunday, October 29, 2006. Womens basketball played against a scout team consisting of seven male and one female player.

Adam Babcock The Daily Illini Illinois junior guard Rebecca Harris, left, tries to dribble around Maggie Acuna during the Orange and Blue Scrimmage at Assembly Hall, Sunday, October 29, 2006. Women’s basketball played against a scout team consisting of seven male and one female player.

By Steve Contorno

The Illinois women’s basketball team started the exhibition season with the perennial Orange and Blue Scrimmage on Sunday.

For the third season, the Illini faced the men’s practice squad that consisted of eight athletes, seven men and former Illini point guard Maggie Acuna.

“I wanted to get everyone a fair chance and equal time to see what they had,” head coach Theresa Grentz said. “I wanted to be able to evaluate with the staff what we’ve been doing and see who fits where.

“I think we were able to accomplish that. There were an awful lot of good things that came out of today, and there’s no question about that,” she said.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

The practice squad challenged the Illini in five ten-minute periods, with the practice squad out-scoring Illinois 76-73.

However, the women won three of the five periods and were only held under ten points in one period.

As a team the Illini made almost 50 percent of their shots, including 52 percent from three-point range. Grentz said the ability of her forwards and centers to shoot from long range will give the team offensive mismatches.

“We have a legitimate inside presence,” Grentz said. “But there’s things we can do in the post to make us less predictable, something we saw last year as a young team. Other teams will have to spend more time learning how to defend us.”

The team struggled to keep control of the ball at times during the scrimmage. Only three players left without a turnover while the rest of the team compiled a total of 21.

Freshman forward Lacey Simpson, who sat out the majority of last season with a medical redshirt, said keeping control of the ball is something the team needs to work on.

“We really need to focus on turnovers and getting the ball from the guards to the post,” Simpson said. “That’s going to be our main goal – to work on unforced turnovers.”

“Unforced turnovers are a problem and they were a problem last year,” Grentz said. “We want to fix that problem this year and take care of the basketball.

When we take care of the basketball like we did at some points today, we found ways to score, which we couldn’t do in the past. We had a certain level of confidence with it.”

Sophomore forward Erin McCarthy finished as the top scorer with 14 points, followed by center Jenna Smith with 13. Simpson added 10, while transfer guard Rebecca Harris notched her first points for the Illini, going 2-of-5 from the field, including hitting her only three-point attempt.

The former junior college All-American also added two assists. Harris said the Division I atmosphere is something she could easily get used to.

“It’s a big change, but it’s pretty interesting,” Harris said. “Today was us trying to get a feel for each other before the year starts.”

“There were some good things and some things we need to work on, but it looks like we’ll be alright,” she added.

The Illini suffered a loss when senior forward Audrey Tabon went down with what appeared to be a knee injury. Tabon averaged more than seven points and seven rebounds for the Illini last season. After initially leaving to the locker room, she returned to the sideline where she sat for the rest of the scrimmage. While an official prognosis has yet to be made, the outlook isn’t good.

“Obviously you don’t want to lose (Tabon),” Grentz said. “Things aren’t looking bright for that situation. We’ll wait for the final prognosis from the doctors.”

Even with the possible loss of Tabon, Grentz was encouraged by what she saw on the court.

“This team has it,” Grentz said. “As we go on this team is going to get better and better.”

—————————-

1. Dan Hollander The Daily Illini

Illini forward Erin Wigley (right) calls for a pass from forward Lacy Simpson (left) during the Orange and Blue Scrimmage Sunday night at Assembly Hall October 29th 2006.

2. Dan Hollander The Daily Illini

Illini center Jenna Smith posts up against Jeremy Gardner of the scout team during the Orange and Blue Scrimmage Sunday night at Assembly Hall October 29th 2006.

3. Dan Hollander The Daily Illini

Illini guard Rebecca Harris takes the ball down court during a fast break at the Orange and Blue Scrimmage Sunday night at Assembly Hall October 29th 2006.

4. Adam Babcock The Daily Illini

Illinois junior guard Rebecca Harris, left, tries to dribble around Maggie Acuna during the Orange and Blue Scrimmage at Assembly Hall, Sunday, October 29, 2006. Women’s basketball played against a scout team consisting of seven male and one female player.

5. Adam Babcock The Daily Illini

Illinois junior forward Chelsea Gordon, right, goes to make a move around Jason Marguis during the Orange and Blue Scrimmage at Assembly Hall, Sunday, October 29, 2006. Women’s basketball played against a scout team consisting of seven male and one female player.

6. Adam Babcock The Daily Illini

Illinois junior forward Chelsea Gordon, right, goes for a lay up over Christian Hildebrand during the Orange and Blue Scrimmage at Assembly Hall, Sunday, October 29, 2006. Women’s basketball played against a scout team consisting of seven male and one female player.