Team boasts hopeful youth in backcourt

Erica Magda

Erica Magda

By Anthony Zilis

Whichever direction Jolette Law turns to, she will have youth in her backcourt.

With freshman point guards Lydia McCully, Fabiola Josil, Eboni Mitchell and Macie Blinn, there will be inexperience at the position.

In Sunday’s exhibition win against SIU-Edwardsville, Law decided to go with McCully and Blinn.

Although Law surprised some by starting Blinn, the freshman only played 18 minutes, which included a rocky start for the Illini. Josil, on the other hand, played 28.

“Fab stepped it up in the second half, she calmed down and started listening and doing the little things,” Law said.

Josil shone when she entered the game about two minutes into the second half. She drained three of the Illini’s only three-point shots on her way to 15 points.

But Law said her criteria for her point guards is not based on the amount of points they score or how well they shoot.

“She’s a scorer, but I need a point guard to run my offense,” Law said of Josil. “I just need someone with a level head to come out and lead this team. I need someone to be the thinker out there at all times, be the coach out there when I’m on the sidelines.”

McCully, the starter at point guard, played just 20 minutes and was benched early in the second half after committing a turnover. She finished with four turnovers.

Ice cold shooting

Although the Illini are a guard-heavy team, their jump shooting, as shown Sunday, will be of concern if they don’t heat up.

The team shot an abysmal 3-for-16 from three-point range, with all the successful attempts coming from Josil.

“A lot of our shots in the beginning were forced, they were out of rhythm, we just saw the opening and took the first shot,” said senior guard Chelsea Gordon, who was 0-for-4 from three-point range.

With so much of the Illini’s production coming inside from Jenna Smith, it is crucial for the guards to knock down shots in order to open up the game for Smith.

“This week, the guards are going to get into the gym and shoot some extra threes because we know they’re going to focus in on Jenna,” Gordon said. “It’s nothing that I’m too concerned about, and I think that in the next games to come the guards will step up and knock down the big three when they need to.”

Another big signing

The Illini landed another prized recruit Tuesday in 6-foot-3 Destiny Williams, according to ESPN’s HoopGurlz.

Williams is listed as the No. 8 senior on HoopGurlz and is the third senior in the top 36 of the database to commit to Illinois. The others include No. 18 Karisma Penn of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and No. 36 Adrienne GodBold of Chicago.

The early signing period starts at 7 a.m. Wednesday. Coach Law will announce the signings at a 2:30 p.m. press conference.