Illinois Fighting Illini, 1/22/06
Illinois' 2005-2006 season record is 12-5 overall, including 4-2 in the Big Ten. The Illini are undefeated at home (6-0), while posting a 4-4 record on the road and 2-1 at neutral sites. The squad has defeated Loyola, Utah State, Northern Illinois, Saint Louis, Bradley, Oklahoma, Illinois State, Michigan, Rhode Island, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin while losing to Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, Florida, Iowa and Michigan State.
Head Coach Theresa Grentz is at the helm of the University of Illinois program for the 11th year, already sporting a 175-129 overall mark before 2005-2006 and a Big Ten record of 87-73. Grentz has also coached at St. Joseph's and Rutgers, where she became the first full-time women's collegiate basketball coach in the country. Her 1981-1982 Rutgers team won the AIAW National Championship. Now in her 32nd year as a coach, Grentz's overall record is 636-282.
Illinois has 14 players on its 2005-2006 roster: three seniors, two juniors, two sophomores, a redshirt freshman and six freshmen. Nine are listed as being six feet tall or more. Eight players have appeared in all 17 games, while a ninth has appeared in 16. All average at least 9.5 minutes per game, led by Maggie Acuna's 32.5 and Janelle Hughes' 29.6.
The Illini average 68.8 points per game, led by Janelle Hughes, Erin Wigley and Lori Bjork at 14.4, 11.2 and 10.0 points per game, respectively. The squad shoots 44.0% from the floor, 36.5% from 3-point range (all but two players have attempted a shot from beyond the arc) and 74.4% from the free throw line. The team sports a 0.8 assist/turnover ratio (227/296). Maggie Acuna leads the squad with 5.1 assists per game, followed by Hughes' 2.0 per game.
Defensively, the Illini give up only 59.7 points per game. Opponents connect on just 37.2% of their field goals and 30.7% of their three-point attempts. Illinois outrebounds foes by an average of 38.5-35.2, with Audrey Tabon pacing the squad at 7.1 per game. Erin Wigley is second with 5.4 and Acuna is third at 5.2. The team has also accumulated 169 steals and swatted 58 opponents' shots. Acuna leads the team with 44 steals while Erin McCarthy and Audrey Tabon have 13 and 12 blocked shots, respectively. Opponents have 216 assists on the year, compared with 301 turnovers for a 0.7 A/TO ratio.
Although she averages only 4.0 points per game so far, senior guard Maggie Acuna has to be considered one of the key players on the Illinois squad. She leads the team in minutes, assists and assists per game, and steals, while ranking third in rebounds despite being 5'6" tall. She shoots 45.3% from the field including 80% from 3-point range (4-5) and 72.7% from the line. She's also by far the best Illini player when it comes to taking care of the ball, with a 1.4 assist/turnover ratio. Only two other Illini boast a ratio higher than 1.0, and those two players have only 22 assists between them, or about one-fourth of Acuna’s season total of 86.
Along with Acuna, Hughes, Wigley and Tabon, freshman Lori Bjork is having a fine season at Illinois, shooting 44.7% from the floor, 40.7% from 3-point range and 85.7% from the field in Big Ten play. She also averages 9.8 points per game and 2.8 assists per game against Big Ten competition. She has to be considered a candidate for Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and is often listed as "The Illini's smartest team member" in the player bios on the Illini’s official Web site.