Big Ten Weekly Release - Minnesota Showing its Depth This Season

Jan. 23, 2006

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Boilers Basking at the Top
With two victories last week, Purdue extended its perfect conference mark to 7-0 and its win streak to 11 straight games. The streak ranks as the fourth-longest single-season win streak in Purdue history. The third-longest win streak is 13 games, set in 2000-01.  The Boilermakers are winning with defense as it continued to put a halt to their opponent's offense, holding Penn State and Illinois to an average of 54.5 points per game. Purdue has held all seven Big Ten foes to fewer than 60 points this season.

Four Big Ten Teams Ranked in Nation's Top 20
Four conference squads are ranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls this week.  Ohio State is 7th in both polls and Purdue is 8th.  Minnesota is ranked 14th and 12th, respectively, while Michigan State is 16th in both polls.

NCAA National Notables
Several Big Ten student-athletes and teams were nationally ranked in many categories as of Jan. 23, which are listed on page five.  Among the standouts, Penn State's Adrienne Squire ranks first (.981) in free-throw percentage, followed by Indiana's Cyndi Valentin in fifth at .944.  Ohio State's Kim Wilburn is 10th in steals at 3.6.  OSU is also second in scoring defense (51.2) and third in fouls per game (12.2) and assists (19.1). 

Pair of Games Televised on Comcast This Week
Two Big Ten games are scheduled to be televised before a regional audience this week on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.  CSN Chicago will feature Michigan State at Purdue on Thursday, followed by Wisconsin at Michigan on Sunday.  In addition, both Thursday's and Sunday's game will be televised on Comcast Local Detroit to serve the audience in the state of Michigan.  Dave Eanet will provide play-by-play for both games, while Suzie McConnell Serio will be the analyst and Chris Boden will be the sideline reporter of Thursday's game in West Lafayette.  June Olkowski returns to the analyst's chair on Sunday.

Portland Wins in 800th Game at Penn State
Penn State head coach Rene Portland earned a win in her 800th game on the Lady Lion sideline. In 25-plus years Portland has built an impressive resume as the Lady Lions' mentor. Portland has led Penn State to five Big Ten Championships (seven conference titles overall) and two league tournament titles (eight conference tourney titles overall). She has accumulated a 586-214 record at Penn State, won two WBCA National Coach of the Year Awards and guided her team to the 2000 Final Four. Since joining the Big Ten, the Lady Lions have been a dominant 163-55, including 63-17 mark over the last five years entering this season.

Illinois' Grentz Looking For No. 650 This Week
Illinois head coach Theresa Grentz is now just two victories short of becoming the eighth Division I coach to reach 650 wins for her career.  Grentz, in her 32nd season overall and 11th at Illinois, has coached in 938 games and has won 69 percent of her games.  Penn State's Rene Portland is already a member of the 650-win club, having now won 673 victories during her career.

Gearlds Joins Grand Company
Purdue's Katie Gearlds scored her 1,000th-career point during Sunday's game at Illinois. After pouring in a season high-tying 28 points against Penn State on Thursday, Gearlds entered the game at Illinois needing two points to reach the plateau. Gearlds became the seventh-fastest Purdue player to hit the milestone, with Sunday's contest marking the 80th game of her career.  Across the conference, eight league standouts have joined the 1,000-point club, led by Michigan State's Lindsay Bowen at 1,592.  Ohio State's Debbie Merrill (1,569) and Michigan State's Liz Shimek (1,561) join Bowen in the 1,500-point club, while Indiana's Cyndi Valentin (1,474), Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (1,387) and the Hoosiers' Jenny DeMuth (1,337) have all amassed more than 1,300 career points.  Prior to Gearld's arrival to the club, Iowa's Crystal Smith (1,038) was the most recent newcomer.  Northwestern's Ifeoma Okonkwo (925) is just 75 points away from 1,000 in this her senior year.

Turning 30 Isn't That Bad...
After her 31-point performance at Michigan State on Sunday, Ohio State's Jessica Davenport, the current Big Ten Player of the Week, became the first conference standout to score multiple 30-point games this season.  Perhaps most impressive is the fact that both outputs came on the road in Big Ten action as her first 30-point game came at Iowa on Jan. 12, when she led the Buckeyes with 34.  In addition to Davenport, Iowa's Crystal Smith (46), Penn State's Kamela Gissendanner (34), Michigan's Ta'Shia Walker (32) and Kelly Helvey (30) and Northwestern's Ifeoma Okonkwo (31) have all scored 30 or more points once this season.

Pair of Home Streaks Snapped
Two significant home-winning streaks were snapped this past week in Big Ten play.  With a 67-65 win at Michigan State, Ohio State ended the Spartans' 23-game home-winning streak, which was the fifth longest in the nation entering the weekend.  Purdue defeated Illinois, 57-53, last Sunday to end the Illini's nine-game home-winning streak, which was their longest since capturing 18 straight wins at home from 1997-99.

Spreading the Points Around
This past Sunday, Minnesota put its depth on display as the Golden Gophers captured a win at Iowa with five played in double figures.  Liz Podominick finished with a team-high 13 points, followed by Jamie Broback and Natasha Williams with 12, Shannon Schonrock with 11 and Lauren Lacey with 10.  Sunday's game marked the third time this instance has occurred this season.

Indiana Improving
With its win over Michigan this past Sunday, Indiana already claimed its 10th win of the season, which matches last years's win total (10-18).  The Hoosiers are also 4-3 in conference play this season, which already betters their 3-13 league mark from a year ago.

Bowen From 2...
With a 2-for-4 performance beyond the arc this past Sunday against Ohio State, Michigan State's Lindsay Bowen moved into second place in Big Ten history for career three-pointers made.  Bowen, who currently has 272 triples for her career, passed the Buckeyes' Caity Matter (`01-05) at 270 and will now make an attempt at the record, held by Penn State's Kelly Mazzante (`01-04) at 357.

Wilburn Sets OSU Steals Mark; Big Ten's Next?
With one steal last Thursday against Indiana, Ohio State's Kim Wilburn took over the No. 1 spot in career steals at Ohio State passing former Buckeye Yvette Angel (1982-85). Both players are the only two Buckeyes to eclipse 300 steals in their careers.  Wilburn, who now has 331 for her career, is also just one of 11 Big Ten players to eclipse 300 and currently ranks fourth all-time in Big Ten history.  Michigan's Stacey Thomas (`96-00) holds the record of 372, followed by Wisconsin's Tamara Moore (`99-02) at 353 and Michigan State's Kristin Haynie (`01-05) at 346.

Speaking of Steals
Indiana's all-around performer, senior Jenny DeMuth, is rapidly approaching another school record.  DeMuth, who already holds the Hoosiers' top mark for career free throws at 463, is just 13 steals away from breaking the all-time career record as well.

If You Win, They Will Come
Michigan State would agree with that as the Spartans have turned in three of their top six all-time attendance totals this season.  Last Sunday's contest against Ohio State was watched before 10,021 fans, the fifth largest crowd in school history.  When OSU visited the Breslin Center last season, the Spartans' hosted a school record 14,066 patrons.  Two other games this year have ranked in the top six.  Ranked second all-time is the 12,088 spectators that watched Michigan at Michigan State, followed by the Rutgers game on Jan. 7 before 9,051 fans.  Kent State in 2002 (12,058) and Vermont in 2004 (11,721) rank third and fourth, respectively.