Women’s basketball to travel to Marquette



By Wesley Deberry

Coach Law and the Illini women’s basketball team made history with their 48-44 victory over Drake on Monday night at Assembly Hall.

After completing their 34th game of the season, the 10 members of the 2007-08 women’s basketball team will be mentioned in the Illini history books as contributors in the longest season in the program’s history. Law also hit a milestone on Monday, notching the 20th victory of her young head coaching career.

Stopping to smell the roses, however, is not an option for the Illini as they will be thrown right back into the line of fire on Wednesday, March 26 in Milwaukee as they face the Marquette Golden Eagles at 7 p.m. The winner of the game will advance to the Women’s Nation Invitational Tournament’s fourth round.

Road games have not been kind to the Illini, who have a road record of 0-3 in past WNIT appearances. In 2006, Marquette ended the Illini’s hopes of reaching the WNIT championship, beating them 64-44 in Milwaukee.

This season Marquette finished in a tie for eighth place in the Big East Conference.

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“I’m just glad and fortunate that I am familiar with the coaching style and familiar with the conference,” Law said.

She became better acquainted with the ins and outs of the Big East Conference during her 12 years as an assistant with coach C. Vivian Stringer at Rutgers University.

The Golden Eagles are lead by Big East All-Conference junior guard Krystal Ellis who averages 18 points per game on the season. In their latest victory over Creighton, Ellis ended the game well below her season average with nine points. Freshman guard and Big East All-Freshman Team honoree Angel Robinson, however, will come into Wednesday’s game after scoring a team-high 19 points in her last outing.

“They’re very scrappy and very aggressive.” Law said. “It’s going to be a dog fight.”

With several hours of film study under her belt, Law said Marquette was “very guard-oriented” and “they really don’t have a big post presence.”

To counteract its weaknesses in the paint, Marquette often plays a “four-out, one-in” set. In this type of scheme, four players stay out on the perimeter and one goes to the post. Most scoring comes from the outside shooters. Defensively the Golden Eagles often alternate between man and zone.

A presence down low has been one of the main strengths for the Illini during the season. Center Jenna Smith has scored in double figures in 33 of the Illini’s 34 games this season and became the Illini’s single-season record holder for blocks after recording two against Drake on Monday.

Forward Lacey Simpson has become a good complement to Smith in the paint, finishing just behind Smith with eight rebounds against Drake while scoring a team-high 14 points.

“We are just going to have to keep them off balance a little bit, throw some different things at them and just do what we do,” Law said.