Jan. 5, 2010
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GET TO KNOW HER
Lacey Simpson, Illinois
Fifth-year senior Lacey Simpson is already a graduate of the University of Illinois, earning her bachelor's degree in sport management in May 2009. Simpson has continued her education in her final year of eligibility, working toward a master's in human resource education. After this season, she plans to continue playing basketball for as long as she can before pursuing a career in broadcasting or coaching. Simpson is one of the most active Illini in the Champaign-Urbana community and has become a role model to young fans with frequent visits to elementary schools. Last season, Simpson kept busy by interning in the Illinois Sports Information Office and hosting the Illini Insider television show.
Still on Top
Ohio State remains undefeated in Big Ten play with a 4-0 mark after edging Michigan, 59-56, on Sunday. With a 16-1 overall record, the Buckeyes have more victories than any other Division I team. Ohio State is ranked sixth in the AP and coaches' polls, leading the conference, while Michigan State is ranked No. 19 by the AP and No. 21 by the coaches. Wisconsin is receiving votes outside the AP poll, and Illinois is receiving votes outside the coaches' top 25.
Illinois and Penn State each reached the 10 wins marker on Sunday, joining Michigan State (11), Northwestern (11), Ohio State (16) and Wisconsin (11) as Big Ten teams with 10 or more victories on the year. For the Illini, 10 wins matches the team's total from all of last year.
New and Improved
In addition to Illinois matching its wins mark from last season, several other Big Ten teams are either on pace to do the same or have already done it. Northwestern posted seven wins in 2008-09 and has already eclipsed that total by four, currently with an 11-4 record. Northwestern last recorded double-digit wins in 1998-99, when the team went 12-16. At 10-4, Penn State is just one off its pace from last season, needing one more victory to match its 11-win total from 2008-09. Michigan is currently 9-5 and needs just one more victory to match its total of 10 from last season.
Ohio State head coach Jim Foster earned his 700th career victory with the Buckeyes' 86-60 win at Northwestern last Thursday, and victory No. 701 in a 59-56 win against Michigan on Sunday. With a 701-273 mark in his 32nd year at the helm, Foster is the ninth-winningest active coach in the NCAA.
Illinois' Jenna Smith and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender continue to extend their impressive double-digit scoring streaks. With 26 points against Penn State on Thursday and 18 vs. Wisconsin on Sunday, Smith increased her streak to 52 consecutive games, which dates back to the 2007-08 season. Smith's streak is the third-longest among active Division I players. Lavender tallied 14 points against Northwestern on Thursday before contributing 18 against Michigan on Sunday, upping her streak to 83 games, which spans the entire length of her career and is the longest active streak in the nation. Penn State's Tyra Grant holds a streak that dates back to last season, currently riding a 26-game double-digit scoring streak.
Moving on Up
With three blocks against Indiana on Sunday, Michigan State senior Allyssa DeHaan moved into second place on the NCAA's career blocked shots list. DeHaan has 449 swats in her career and is just 31 away from tying the NCAA record of 480, set by TCU's Sandora Irvin, who finished her career in 2005.
Welcome to the Block Party
Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke joined DeHaan as the only other active member of the Big Ten's 200 career blocks club, swatting two against Penn State, giving her exactly 200 in her career. Jaeschke is the 11th player in Big Ten history to reach the milestone.
Fresh Faces on the Glass
Freshmen continue to rank among the Big Ten's best in several statistical categories, including rebounding, where three teams are led by first-year players. Iowa's Morgan Johnson leads her team and is sixth in the Big Ten, averaging 7.0 boards per contest. Michigan's Jenny Ryan is eighth in the Big Ten and first for the Wolverines with a 6.6 rpg mark, and Purdue's Sam Ostarello is 12th in the conference and first for the Boilermakers with 6.1 rpg.
Illinois' Jenna Smith is one of just two players in the nation to rank in the NCAA's top 15 in points and rebounds per game. The senior is ninth in the country, averaging 11.6 boards per contest, and 15th with 20.7 points per game. Smith also leads all of Division I with 10 double-doubles on the year. Ohio State's Jantel Lavender is second in the conference and tied for fourth in the nation with eight double-doubles.
Big Ten teams combined to go 90-30 in non-conference games, good enough for a .750 winning percentage. On average, Big Ten teams out-scored non-conference opposition, 71.28-59.52, for an average margin of victory of +11.76. Of the Big Ten's 90 non-conference wins, 40 (44 percent) came by 20 or more points, while of the 30 losses, 17 (57 percent) came by five or fewer points. Big Ten teams also combined to knock off six nationally ranked teams, including two top-10 wins by Michigan State, who beat then-No. 4 North Carolina and then-No. 8 Xavier in a one-week span.
Neighborhood Watch Program
Six Big Ten players earned spots on the Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List. Illinois' Jenna Smith, Michigan State's Allyssa DeHaan, Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke, Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis and Jantel Lavender and Penn State's Tyra Grant are in contention for the Naismith Trophy, which is presented annually to college basketball's Player of the Year.
Wooden is Watching
The Big Ten has five players on the 2009-10 John R. Wooden Award Women's Preseason Top 30 List, leading all conferences. Candidates from the Big Ten are Illinois senior Jenna Smith, Michigan State senior Allyssa DeHaan, Ohio State junior Jantel Lavender and sophomore Samantha Prahalis and Penn State senior Tyra Grant. OSU is one of just four schools with multiple players on the list, and Prahalis is the only sophomore to make the cut.
Wade For Me
Illinois' Jenna Smith, Michigan State's Allyssa DeHaan and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis were also on the 25-player 2009-10 preseason "Wade Watch" list for the State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year. With four selections, the Big Ten is tied with the ACC, Big East and Pac-10 for tops among all conferences. The Buckeyes are one of three schools with multiple players on the list, and Prahalis is one of just two sophomores to be named.
Illinois' Jenna Smith, Michigan State's Allyssa DeHaan and Penn State's Tyra Grant are candidates for the 2009-10 Lowes Senior CLASS Award. Student-athletes eligible for the award must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition.
Set Your TiVo
Big Ten women's basketball will once again experience vast national television coverage, with nearly 90 percent of home games set to be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, www.BigTenNetwork.com, ESPN2 or CBS Sports this season. In addition to its linear network package, www.BigTenNetwork.com will stream additional games that will be produced in HD-quality.
Back Home Again...
Big Ten women's basketball will once again return to the city of Indianapolis and Conseco Fieldhouse for the 2010 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament. The 2010 event marks the third of a five-year agreement that places both the men's and women's tournaments in the Circle City. This year's tournament will be the ninth consecutive and 15th overall in Indianapolis and will be held on four consecutive days beginning Thursday, March 4. The championship game will be played Sunday, March 7.
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Big Ten women's basketball will have its sights set on San Antonio, Texas, during the 2009-10 season as the 2010 NCAA Women's Final Four will be held April 4 and 6 at the Alamodome. The conference has sent five teams to the past 11 Final Fours, including two in the last six seasons. The 2010 championship event will be hosted by the University of Texas at San Antonio.