Coach Law takes clothes away from Illini


Erica Magda

By Anthony Zilis

Lacey Simpson lay sprawled out on the floor after practice Monday as some of her teammates, wearing their own T-shirts and gym shorts rather than Illini gear, climbed into the ice tub.

“Welcome back, Coach Law,” Simpson said as she got up and left Ubben Basketball Complex.

With six straight losses heading into Wednesday’s match up against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and, more importantly, a noticeable lack of effort, Illini head coach Jolette Law decided to get back to the basics with a tough, vintage “Coach Law”-type of practice that became a regularity last season.

“It was all defense, we didn’t do anything but defense and rebounding, a lot of conditioning and just holding them more accountable of the little things,” Law said.

Improvement in practice is crucial for the Illini, whose defense has regressed heavily this season.

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After leading the Big Ten in points allowed and ranking fourth in opponent’s field goal percentage a season ago, the Illini have dropped to seventh and dead last in those categories, respectively, this season.

After climbing out of the ice bath, an exhausted Jenna Smith voiced her support of Law’s changes.

“It was rough, but I think we all needed it,” the star center said. “We needed a reality check, even the upperclassmen; we’re not playing like we can. Chelsea, Lacey, myself, we’re not being good leaders to the freshmen. I just think we needed this reality check in practice.”

Law forbade her team to practice in anything given to them by the University.

This made Monday’s practice look like that of a high school team.

“I just don’t think that we have earned the right to wear Illinois, we’re not playing with that sense of pride that I think is needed,” Law said. “When they put that uniform on, it should mean something.”

Law said she would make her players wear their own gym clothes, if she could, when the team heads north Wednesday.

Illinois uniforms or not, Wednesday’s game is crucial for a team whose season seems to be on the brink of spiraling out of control.

While Law said a win most likely won’t earn the players back their Illini gear, it’s the last game before they take on No. 2 North Carolina in their final test before the Big Ten season.

The Panthers (3-4), took a surprising Wisconsin team to double overtime earlier in the season and are led by 6-foot-2 center Traci Edwards, who is averaging 18.9 points and seven rebounds a game.

For an Illinois team that has fallen behind early in recent games, it is imperative to come out with fire against the Panthers.

“After this practice, I think we’re going to come out more intense, more angry,” Smith said. “We don’t have our Illinois stuff, so now I know some people are angry…. It’s just the little things that are starting to piss us off now. We need to change our attitude.”