Illini start 2020-2021 season off against Indiana State


Cameron Krasucki

Freshman Forward Kennedi Myles advances down the court during the game against Michigan State on Feb. 26. The Illini begin their 2020-2021 season Wednesday night against Indiana State.

By Nithin Reddy, Staff Writer

After months of waiting and uncertainty, the Illinois women’s basketball team will kick off the 2020-2021 season Wednesday night at home against Indiana State. The Illini are in the midst of a roster overhaul after three of their top four scorers left the program and five new faces have joined the team, including three new bigs.  

Wednesday’s game will mark the start of head coach Nancy Fahey’s fourth season with the team.  It has been a bit of a struggle for the Illini in Fahey’s tenure. The team has won just four of its 50 Big Ten games and owns an overall record of 30-58. A season ago, the Illini seemed to have some momentum going, but injuries inside derailed the season. Fahey has higher hopes for this team.

“This team has wanted to get to a postseason, I don’t know what postseason but a postseason and play,” Fahey said. “To do that you have to be over .500 and that’s just the facts of it.”

The Illini’s schedule was released Monday, and it has been shortened to 24 games with the Illini starting conference play at Nebraska on Dec. 10. In a normal season, the Illini would have around 10 non-conference games to prepare for the Big Ten season, but because COVID-19 has made travel harder for teams, the Illini will play three non-conference games before facing the Cornhuskers.  

As for returning players, the Illini bring back sophomore Kennedi Myles who looks to be one of the focal points of the team. A season ago, Myles set the freshman Illinois record for double-doubles, and she averaged a team-high 8.7 rebounds a game. Despite the success, Myles was playing out of position for most of the season. This year it looks as though she will be able to slide back into her more comfortable role as a forward.

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“Last year I did my part playing at the five and playing at the four when I could, but just being able to play at that four spot and have a true five post down there, it’s going to be something good to watch,” Myles said.

Another player to watch out for is the redshirt-junior transfer, Eva Rubin. She is coming from Arizona State, and has been with the team for nearly a year after transferring in January. With the Illini struggling to hang with Big Ten bigs a season ago, Rubin’s 6-foot-5 frame provides some much-needed interior help for the Illini.

“We had nobody inside last year. We didn’t have an inside presence we were playing four players at the five spot,” Fahey said. “Last year we were playing small ball, and you can’t play small ball in the Big Ten.”

Indiana State is coming off of a dismal season where they went 5-25. However, they are returning every player on their roster. In order for the Illini to avoid the upset, they should try and stop Indiana State’s leading scorer Jamyra McChristine early. The Illini look poised to improve this season and finally compete in the Big Ten.

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