Welcome to the nineteenth opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponent’s women’s basketball team and a player or coach on the team. Web page addresses will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.
The Hawkeyes enter Tuesday’s game with an overall record of 12-8, 6-3 in the Big Ten, the same number of losses as Michigan State and Minnesota. Iowa has gone 4-1 in Big Ten home games, with the attendance ranging between 2500-6000 spectators. Iowa lost its most recent game, to Ohio State at home, by a score of 93-82. The Hawkeyes have also lost at Penn State and at Minnesota, while beating Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and at Northwestern and Michigan State.
The Hawkeyes go ten players deep each game, with no player averaging more than 33 minutes per contest. The squad’s two tallest players are 6-5 junior Lindsay Geoffrey and 6-3 junior Jamie Cavey. Coach Lisa Bluder’s Hawkeyes have no freshmen, five sophomores, three juniors, and three seniors.
Iowa may be the Big Ten’s premier squad on offense. The Hawkeyes are the highest-scoring team in conference play (73.2 ppg), and rank no lower than third on any of the team shooting percentages: 78.2% FT-—first, 45.7% FG-—third, 36.6% 3-pt—-third. The Hawkeyes also lead the Big Ten in assists per game, averaging almost 18 per contest. One potential weakness for the Hawkeyes on offense is the number of times they turn the ball over. The current rate of 18.9 per game ranks tenth in the Big Ten, ahead of only Northwestern.
Individually, the Hawkeyes are led by Jamie Cavey, Jennie Lillis, and Kristi Faulkner, who rank sixth, eighth, and ninth, respectively, in points per game in conference games. All of them score more than 15 points per game and are outstanding free throw shooters. Faulkner leads the conference in free throw percentage (95.8%) and is third in 3-point percentage (43.2%). Cavey is fourth in field goal percentage (56.3%) and thirteenth in free throw percentage (76.3%). More will be said about Jennie Lillis later in the column.
While Iowa is an offensive powerhouse in the conference, it has had some difficulties on the defensive end. The Hawkeyes give up 70 points per game to their foes in conference play, which ranks last in the conference, and are middle-of-the-pack in field goal percentage on defense (41.4%). To their credit, the Iowa players shut down opponents behind the 3-point line, allowing only 24.0% to be made in conference games. Iowa is average on the boards, outrebounding its opponents by only .2 per game, and are in the lower part of conference standings when it comes to steals (7.56) and blocks (2.33) per game.
The Iowa women’s basketball team’s official website can be found at:
Senior Jennie Lillis has always been one of the Big Ten’s most underrated players, despite being one of its most versatile. During her junior season, Jennie was among the top-10 players in the conference in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, and steals. In conference games this year, Jennie is eighth in scoring, twelfth in rebounding, sixth in assists, fifth in free throw percentage, and tied for twelfth in steals.
Jennie, from Urbandale, Iowa, currently leads her squad in rebounds, steals, and assists, and ranks second in rebounds and blocks. She’s also developed her 3-point shooting, hitting a career-high eighteen treys this year. Look for her to spend as much time on the court Tuesday evening as any Hawkeye player.
In her career, Jennie ranks third in blocks (102), tied for fifth in point (1606), sixth in rebounds (768), eighth in steals (172), and eleventh in assists (272). She has started all but one of her games as a Hawkeye and has had double-figure season averages in scoring all three years. After her sophomore year, Jennie was named Second Team All-Big Ten by the media, HM by the coaches. After her junior year, she was First Team All-Big Ten by the media, Second Team by the coaches. Look for Jennie's career ranking to continue going up and the accolades to continue to rain down.
Jennie Lillis’ bio page on the official Iowa women’s basketball website can be found at:
To view how Jennie’s career stats compare to past Hawkeye greats, visit the following page and scroll down two-thirds of the length:
The Questionnaire Replies
1) What is the oldest memory you have of yourself with a basketball?
-– I was probably 8 years old, and I played in the YMCA league with mostly boys. My dad also coached my older sister (4 years older), so I was able to hang out at her practices, and fill in whenever they needed me – whether she liked it or not! *smile*
2) Why did you choose to play at the University of Iowa?
–- I could not pass up playing for the Big Ten Conference -- the pride of playing for my state, and the team!
3) Aside from playing basketball, how have you become a part of the Iowa City, Iowa, community?
–- The University of Iowa has one of the best hospitals in the country. It is very rewarding to hang out with kids and their parents. My sister is a physical therapist in the burn and trauma unit, so she always lets me know who could use a visitor.
4) What was the most difficult basketball skill for you to master?
-– First of all, I do not think I have mastered any skill in basketball! *smile* However, I do think the hardest skill is defense – whether it is post defense or stopping a drive. In the Big Ten there are a lot of different skilled players – there are big strong post players, there are great shooters, there are great drivers, and a majority of the good ones can do it all.
5) Aside from games on the court, what is the best experience you’ve had as a result of playing collegiate basketball (visiting non-U.S. countries, meeting state and national leaders, etc.)?
–- Our team traveled to Italy last summer. We had such a tremendous time! For me it has been rewarding, because you can put a smile on a kid’s face at the hospital just because of a game that you play. It is really an unmatched feeling!
6) Do women collegiate athletes get the attention they deserve from the national media?
-- This is kind of a trick question. I would say, “yes”, because it is growing and we want it to continue to grow. And I think people are enjoying the women’s game more and more. I would say, “no”, because I am obviously a little biased. I do think the women’s game should continue to receive more attention. We work very hard, and we are fun to watch. I do not necessarily think people should stop watching the men play, but I think people need to watch (and need to be given the opportunity to watch) and then make a decision on their own. I truly believe that women’s basketball will continue to rise!
7) What was the biggest challenge going from high school basketball to collegiate basketball?
–- The competition – not only in games, but also in practice. I was lucky though; I had really good high school coaches, and came from a tremendous program. I also think the shot clock was a little bit of an adjustment (but with how much I shoot, and sometimes how quickly I shoot, it appears I have gotten over that!). *smile*
8) What accomplishments do you believe signify that a team has achieved success?
-- This is a tough question. I honestly believe it varies with different programs and different teams. Obviously everyone wants the same end goal, but even if you don’t achieve that goal it doesn’t signify the season wasn’t a success. This is where you can tell a difference between a good coach and a great coach. A great coach is a teacher – a teacher of the game, and a teacher of life. I do believe that the Big Ten has great coaching role models!
9) What two words come to mind when you think of Purdue women’s basketball?
–- When you think of Purdue women’s basketball you think of more than two words. Many things come to mind. I have a lot of respect for Coach Curry and her team. To think of two words is difficult. I know this is a cliché, but I would say hard work. I say that because they have great players, but they are not flashy. They just get the job done.
Thank you to Matthew Weitzel for making it possible to include Jennie's responses.
This Iowa squad reminds me of the Purdue team that had a “Big Three” offensive threat of center Rhonda Mateen, forward Joy Holmes, and guard MaChelle Joseph: any of those three could put the team on her back for an entire game to produce a victory. Iowa’s “Big Three” of Cavey, Lillis, and Faulkner have that same ability. Having three go-to scorers in tough situation is a luxury that no other Big Ten team can boast.
Look for these three players to get the lion’s share of offensive opportunities during the game; they’re not only Iowa’s best scorers but also the team’s best shooters. No team is going to contain all three players for the entire game, but Purdue has to limit their opportunities. One way may be to keep the ball out of Iowa’s hands by forcing turnovers as much possible. All of the Iowa players average at least an assist per game, so the Boilermakers will have be alert on defense, no matter which player has the ball or where she is positioned on the floor.
Depth may be an issue for both squads as Erin and Katie are fighting through some physical problems and the Iowa reserves may not be able to match the starters’ output while on the floor. It’s definitely an issue to consider, because Cavey has already fouled out of seven games this year and Lillis, five. If the Boilermakers can get the ball down low, where Emily, Shereka, Lindsey, and Erin can work against the Hawkeyes, it may prove to be an advantage.
The bench will also be important for the Boilermakers as all of the starters played extended minutes versus Ohio State on Sunday afternoon. Sharika, Carol, Ashley, Erin, and Katie may need to perform at a higher level so the starters can get some much-needed rest and the entire squad stays fresh to the end.