Women’s hoops heads for Big Ten showdown

Chelsea Gordon drives the court against Chicago State at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 6, 2007. Erica Magda

Chelsea Gordon drives the court against Chicago State at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 6, 2007. Erica Magda

By Wesley Deberry

He worked as an assistant to Ohio State head coach Jim Foster for two seasons. In the summer of 2007, he was nabbed by the law. But not the law that punishes people; Patrick Klein was nabbed by Illini head coach Jolette Law to become an assistant coach on her staff.

The Illini travel to Columbus, Ohio, to meet the No. 16-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes Thursday at 7 p.m. Klein has abided by the wishes of Coach Law and has become an informant for the Illini’s preparations this week at practice.

“Throughout the week I have been putting out different intricacies of players and different terminologies that (Ohio State) use, in the hope that it will better prepare our team for battle,” Klein said.

The main event of the night should be fought in the paint between Illini forward Jenna Smith and Buckeye freshman Jantel Lavender. Smith ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding with 18.4 and 9.9 per games, respectively. Lavender ranks first in the Big Ten in rebounding with 10.1 per game and fourth in the Big Ten in scoring with 18.4 points per game.

Law said Smith will be matched up on Lavender for a good portion of the night. For Smith, being matched up with a player like Lavender is nothing new. In the Dec. 5 loss to Oklahoma, Smith went toe-to-toe with The Associated Press Player of the Year, center Courtney Paris. Smith managed 15 points and eight rebounds.

Smith said from her encounter with Paris taught her to play more physical, stay in good position in the post and always box out. She said she will play physical with Lavender and dictate positioning in the post.

From beyond the arch Buckeye senior guard Marscilla Packer and junior guard Ashlee Trebilcock have performed well. Packer is averaging 41 percent from the three-point line, and Trebilcock is averaging near double figures with 9.4 points per game.

Law said she will assign Chelsea Gordon, who she often calls her “defensive stopper,” to guard Packer. Throughout the game, though, Law said she is not opposed to letting others guard Packer.

“Right now we know that they have a well-balanced team,” Law said. “They have three major players that we have to make sure we contain.”

With many of the Illini hitting stride over the last few games, the minutes have been more evenly spread out. Rebecca Harris is coming off a career game against Minnesota and Lori Bjork has recently come out of her shooting slump.

“Going into the Big Ten Conference, I am definitely going to have to use my bench a lot more,” Law said. “I can rotate eight or nine players and feel confident that they won’t miss a beat.”