Illini women earn positions on All-Big Ten teams

By Stuart Lieberman

Sophomore Jenna Smith and junior Lori Bjork didn’t receive their spots on the All-Big Ten teams, they earned them.

On Monday, Smith was named to the First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and unanimously by the media, and Bjork was named to the third team by the coaches and was an honorable mention selection by the media.

Smith finished the regular season averaging 18.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, putting her in the top two in the conference in both categories. She is the first Illinois First Team All-Big Ten selection since 2005 (Angelina Williams, media) and the first named to both the media and coaches’ first teams since 2002 (Iveta Marcauskaite).

With her stats, Smith had a shot at winning Big Ten Player of the Year, but the coaches chose Ohio State freshman Jantel Lavender, while the media selected Wisconsin senior Jolene Anderson.

“Personally, I think her numbers in every category were up,” head coach Jolette Law said about Smith. “But you have to look at what each player has done for her team. Jantel’s helped her team to be at the top and Jolene Anderson … willed her team from next to last to getting the eight seed.”

Meanwhile, Bjork joined the Illini’s career 1,000-point club this season and broke Krista Reinking’s record 194 three-pointers made in a season.

“She’s emerged as a floor leader, even without the ball,” Law said. “She’s been a floor general for me. What stands out most is that she’s one of the hardest working players around.”

But Bjork, who was also the Illini’s representative for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award given to one player on every team, said she would rather win accolades for her team than for herself.

“I think we would both trade the individual honors to be a little higher in the conference right now,” Bjork said. “But we have the chance to right the ship a little bit and make things right in the Big Ten Tournament.”