Women’s basketball to open season at IPFW



By Anthony Zilis

At the end of the Illini women’s basketball practice Wednesday, assistant coach Tamika Louis carefully laid out the team’s weekend. As Illinois heads to Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday to open its regular season, she explained to her team what shoes to wear, what type of coat to bring and what time the team needs to wake up.

“We have a very detailed itinerary, we don’t take anything to guess,” head coach Jolette Law said with a smile.

The agenda for this weekend wouldn’t be such a big deal for most teams, but for a team in which two-thirds of its players are newcomers, veterans Jenna Smith, Lacey Simpson and Chelsea Gordon may have to take on the role of camp counselor.

The youngsters will be forced to take a major portion of the playing time this weekend, as the Illini hope to start the season on a good note against IPFW.

The young players may be nervous like freshmen during their first day of high school, but the excitement for the opening game doesn’t necessarily lessen with age. Gordon, the team’s only senior, was almost giddy when talking about lacing up her sneakers Friday.

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“I’m so excited, I feel like it’s been going on forever, just practicing with each other, and preseason, so it’s exciting that it’s finally here,” she said. “We’re just looking forward to it because we’ve worked so hard for this first game.”

In IPFW, the Illini play a team who were picked by the media to finish seventh in the Summit League and lost their leading scorer from last season.

But if last Sunday’s first half 26-24 deficit during an exhibition tune-up against SIU-Edwardsville was any indication, the Illini will have to be sure not to look past any team.

“We’re not worried because we’re a young team, so I expect that some things go wrong like that,” Simpson said of Sunday’s first half. “Like I said, them watching the first game and knowing what (her young teammates) did wrong and how hard they have to work, we’re pretty confident for Friday’s game.”

The Illini will have to worry about defending guard Jordan Zuppe, who was picked to the second-team All-Summit League roster. But as of Wednesday, the team hadn’t looked at a gameplan for the Mastodons.

“Coach didn’t really tell us anything, she said we need to worry about Illinois, what we can do best,” Simpson said.