Women ready for second meeting with Wisconsin



By Wesley Deberry

Albert Einstein possessed one of the great minds of the 20th century. He once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Though only 5-foot-4 inches, Illini head coach Jolette Law established herself early in the season as the authoritarian figure. Like a seasoned poker player, she never revealed too much of herself to the team. After a shaky 3-6 start in Big Ten play, Law found that she needed to make some character changes. Her hard nosed demeanor was not generating the results she once thought it would.

After a long meeting with her team, Law dropped her guard by putting her genuine personality on display for all to see. Since then, the Illini are 3-1 in conference play as they head to Madison, Wis., to face the Wisconsin Badgers tonight at 7 p.m.

In their first meeting this season, Illinois beat the Badgers 64-54 at Assembly Hall. Like Law, the Illini have also progressed since their first meeting with Wisconsin.

“We are communicating better and we are dictating better on defense.” Illini center Jenna Smith said. “We know each others strengths and weakness better.”

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In their previous match up, Smith lead the Illini with 16 points. It is likely the Badgers will double Smith in the paint from the opening tip-off. Law said in order to keep Wisconsin from doubling down on Smith, the guards must knock down their outside shot.

Illinois will rely on the play of guard Lori Bjork. The junior has found herself in a recent groove, going 3-for-3 from three-point range in the Illini’s last game against the Indiana Hoosiers. Just one game after joining the 1,000 point club, Bjork has a chance to break another Illinois record – she is just two three-pointers away from breaking the career record.

With several games still left in the season, and one more year of college eligibility, Bjork said, “It’s not something that I really need to worry about.”

On defense, though, the Illini will have some worries against the Badgers.

Wisconsin senior guard Jolene Anderson leads the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 20.5 points per game. Illinois forward Chelsea Gordon has been Law’s defensive ace all season.

Thursday will be no different, as Gordon and Anderson will lock arms most of the night. In their earlier meeting, Gordon seemed to get the best of Anderson, forcing the Badger to shoot an uncharacteristic 4-for-20 from the field.

“We have to limit her touches,” Law said. “It is going to be a total team effort to make sure we ID where she is at all times.”

With a victory on Thursday, the Illini’s record in conference play will draw even at 7-7. With three of their last four games scheduled at the friendly confines of Assembly Hall, Law remains optimistic.

“The way things have been going in this league, anything is possible,” Law said. “I am just glad that we are peaking at the right time.”