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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student

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Women's basketball Big Ten schedule preview: part 3

2011-12 Head-to-head results Illinois 61, IU 60 (Feb. 12, Bloomington)
Last year’s record and final standing 11-19 (5-11 Big Ten), ninth in Big Ten

Biggest strength
Experience and scoring balance. The Fighting Illini return their top four scorers, all upperclassmen.

Those four — Karisma Penn, Kersten Magrum, Adrienne Godbold and Amber Moore — should have revenge on their minds after suffering through a seven-game losing streak from Dec. 30 until Jan. 22.

That streak included a one point loss to conference power Purdue and a three point loss to Wisconsin, both at home, as well as a one point loss to rival Northwestern on the road.

If the Illini can learn from those losses and come out on the right side of close games, they could make a big jump in the conference standings this year. Penn, a senior forward and third team All-Big Ten selection, leads the way after posting a team-high 13.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season. She is supported by Magrum, a junior and Penn’s frontcourt mate. Magrum was second on the team to Penn in points (11.4 per game) and rebounds (5.7 per game).

Biggest weakness
Shooting. The Illini struggled to shoot from all areas of the floor, including from the free-throw line (the team’s 67.7 team free throw percentage ranked 10th in the Big Ten), the floor (40.8 field goal percentage, seventh in conference) and long range (31.2 percent on threes, 9th in conference).

The team lost five of its games last year by a combined nine points, and a made shot here or there could have made the difference. Illinois must improve its shot selection if it wants to challenge for a spot in the top half of the Big Ten Tournament standings come March.

2011-12 Head-to-head results Iowa 83, IU 64 (Feb. 5, Bloomington)
Last year’s record and final standing 19-12 (11-5 Big Ten), fourth in Big Ten

Biggest strength
Efficient offensive play and continuity. The Hawkeyes had one of the Big Ten’s better offenses last year, thanks in large part to their ability to share the basketball and cash in on open looks. Iowa finished with a league-high 514 assists (16.6 per game) and the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0). All told, the Hawkeyes averaged 71.4 points per game, tied for the third highest in the conference.  

Sophomore Samantha Logic had a freshman season to remember at point guard, averaging 4.4 assists per game, fifth-highest in the Big Ten. Her teammates did their part, shooting 41.9 percent from the floor (fifth in conference) and a league-leading 79.4 percent from the free throw line.

Logic, who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team, will look to build upon her freshman campaign by setting up familiar targets in 6-foot-5 senior center Morgan Johnson (second on the team in rebounds and points per game) and senior guard Jaime Printy, who led the team in scoring with 16.9 points per game and was an All-Big Ten third team selection.

Biggest weakness
Defense and Rebounding. The Hawkeyes’ offense carried them to an 8-7 non-conference record and an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament in spite of poor defense and rebounding. They fell 84-74 to California in the first round, highlighting the team’s biggest issue: Iowa allowed 65.9 points per game last year, eighth in the Big Ten, primarily because they allowed opponents to shoot 38.5 percent from the floor (seventh in conference), while allowing opponents to grab 38.1 rebounds per game (seventh in Big Ten).

The Hawkeyes finished with the conference’s fifth-best rebounding margin at +1.5, but outside of the 6-foot-5 Johnson, the Hawkeyes lack size up front and will need 6-foot-3 freshman forward Kayla Timmerman to provide some immediate help on the glass. Timmerman is the only Hawkeyes player listed as a forward, so the team’s taller guards (particularly 5-foot-11 junior Theairra Taylor and Printy) will also have to help Johnson win the rebound battle.

2011-12 Head-to-head results Minnesota 84, IU 43 (Jan. 2, Minneapolis)
Last year’s record and final standing 19-17 (6-10 Big Ten), eigth in Big Ten

Biggest strength
Rebounding and shooting. The Gophers would not have won the Women’s Basketball Invitational without Big Ten Freshman of the Year Rachel Banham, whose 16.9 points per game was tops among conference freshman and tied for sixth overall in the Big Ten. A 5-foot-9 guard, Banham lit up the defense from the three-point range, making 54 threes and shooting a conference-best 42.5 percent. All told, the Gophers shot 41.9 percent from the field, fourth-best in conference.  

As a team, Minnesota controlled the boards with a +4.2 rebounding margin, second-highest in conference. 6-foot-4 Katie Loberg returns for her senior season after grabbing a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game, while junior forwards Micaella Riche (4.2 rebounds per game, fourth on the team) and Kionna Kellogg (5.2 rebounds per game, tied with Banham for second on the team) will likely see their minutes increase after proving themselves capable rebounders off the bench last season.

Biggest Weakness

Road play, offensive balance and perimeter play. The Gophers enjoyed the comforts of Minneapolis and finished 15-4 at home, but couldn’t have looked more lost on the road. Minnesota finished 1-9 away from The Barn, its lone road win coming at Northwestern on Jan. 5.

One reason for such poor road play could be the team’s inability to take care of the basketball: The Gophers finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.7 (ninth in conference) and a poor turnover margin of -0.39 (eighth in conference). On top of that, Minnesota relied too heavily on Banham to carry the offensive load, averaging just 11.4 assists per game (second-worst in conference).

Besides Banham, the Gophers did not have players that could effectively stretch the floor or guard the perimeter last year. Minnesota’s 122 made threes ranked third-lowest in the Big Ten, whileww its 3.4 makes per game was tied for last. And while the Gophers struggled to make threes, opponents had a field day from long range. The Gophers allowed 225 three pointers, by far the most allowed among Big Ten teams, and opponents shot 32.9 percent on threes (10th in conference). Minnesota will have to fix all three issues if they want to make another deep postseason run.

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