The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

No. 23 Illinois women’s basketball prepares for season with exhibition against Truman State

Senior+forward+Kendall+Bostic+putting+herself+in+front+of+the+ball+following+a+Michigan+State+free+throw+on+Jan.+29.+Illinois+is+ranked+No.+23+in+the+Associated+Press+preseason+poll.
Angel Saldivar
Senior forward Kendall Bostic putting herself in front of the ball following a Michigan State free throw on Jan. 29. Illinois is ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press preseason poll.

Illinois enters the season ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press preseason poll, its first time entering the season ranked since the 1999-2000 season. Before the regular season officially begins, head coach Shauna Green and the Illini face a preseason test in the Truman State Bulldogs.

After a historically great season by recent standards, Illinois will look to capitalize on that momentum and come out of the gate hotter than ever. While Illinois is returning most of its key rotational players, Monday is about finding out how the newcomers will factor into Green’s rotation this season.

“That’ll be some of the trial and error because we just have some new pieces,” Green said. “So obviously, our starting group will be the same, but then how much can we play (Camille) Hobby and KB (Kendall Bostic) together, where do our freshman fit and just get some of that against different competition.”

Barring any surprises, Illini fans should expect to see the familiar lineup of senior Makira Cook, senior Genesis Bryant and junior Adalia McKenzie at guard, as well as junior Brynn Shoup-Hill and senior Kendall Bostic in the forward spots. Expect newcomers transfer fifth-year Camille Hobby, transfer sophomore Shay Bollin, freshman Gretchen Dolan and freshman Cori Allen to see run as well to see how they fit with the mainstays.

Truman State comes into the game as obvious underdogs, but don’t expect these Bulldogs to just roll over. Truman State finished last season with a record of 20-10 and finished third in Division II’s Grand Lakes Valley Conference.

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The Bulldogs lost a 20 PPG scorer in Hannah Belanger to Iowa State in the transfer portal, but their second-leading scorer, fifth-year forward Ellie Weltha, returns to potentially fill that hole. The Bloomington, Illinois native is in her fourth year with the Bulldogs after transferring in from Illinois State where she used to play softball.

This year is a bit of a rebuilding year for Truman State and fifth-year head coach Theo Dean, but that doesn’t mean the expectations are any lower.

“I look forward to just what this team is gonna look like,” Dean said in an interview with KTVO news. “It reminds me a lot of my first year as head coach when we brought in five freshmen and two transfers, so I’ve gone through it before. It was a very exciting year for me five years ago, and I’m really excited to do it again.”

Truman State is generally known for its style of small ball, but with a fully reshaped team, Illinois needs to be ready for anything thrown at it. Luckily for Illini fans, Green lauded the team’s newfound flexibility as one of their biggest strengths.

“We say, as a coach, you want options right?” Green said. “You want as many options as you can and the flexibility to play whatever lineup depending on who you’re playing. Basketball is just a game of matchups.”

Whatever lineup the Illini roll out this season, fans can expect them to compete with the best teams in both the conference and the nation. That journey starts Monday night with the Bulldogs.

Head on down to the State Farm Center on Monday at 6 p.m. to see the Illini take on the Bulldogs in an exhibition game. Since it’s the Halloween season, children 12 and under get into the game for free if they wear costumes. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus for those unable to attend.

 

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Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
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