Big Ten Women's Basketball Set to Open 2006-07 Season

Nov. 7, 2006

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The Big Ten welcomes back eight members of the 2005-06 All-Conference team, including last season's lone unanimous first-team selection Jessica Davenport of Ohio State.  The Buckeye senior has also been tabbed the 2005 and 2006 consensus Big Ten Player of the Year by both the coaches and the media.  Joining Davenport as a first-team pick is Purdue's Katie Gearlds.  Returning from the second team are Iowa's Megan Skouby, the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Penn State's Amanda Brown and Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson.  Third-team honorees from a year ago include Ohio State's Brandie Hoskins and Marscilla Packer and Purdue's Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton.

Also returning to the conference this season are seven honorable mention All-Big Ten selections in Illinois' Erin Wigley, Iowa's Krista VandeVenter, Michigan State's Victoria Lucas-Perry, Penn State's Kamela Gissendanner and Brianne O'Rourke, Purdue's Erin Lawless, and Wisconsin's Janese Banks.

A brief look at the Big Ten's top returnees follows:

Jessica Davenport, SR, OSU, C 
1st-Coaches, 1st-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  18.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.1 bpg, .618 FG%

Last season, Davenport became just the fourth conference standout to ever repeat as the Big Ten's top player, joining Northwestern's Anucha Browne (1984, 1985), Ohio State's Tracey Hall (1986, 1987), Purdue's Katie Douglas (2000, 2001) and Penn State's Kelly Mazzante (2003, 2004).  She led the Big Ten in overall scoring (18.7), rebounding (8.9), blocks (3.1) and field goal percentage (.618).  The National Player of the Year finalist was named a first-team All-American by the USBWA and Kodak/WBCA and was a second-team selection by the Associated Press (AP).

Katie Gearlds, SR, PUR, G 
1st-Coaches, 1st-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  15.0 ppg, 3.6 apg, .848 FT%, .373 3FG%
Gearlds ranked eighth (15.0) in scoring, but was first in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.57) and second in minutes played (35.88).  The Boilermaker MVP also ranked seventh in assists (3.58) and free-throw percentage (.848), eighth in three-point percentage (.373) and 10th in blocked shots (0.85).  She was tabbed Kodak All-District and Honorable Mention AP All-American and became the seventh fastest Boilermaker to reach 1,000 career points last year when she did so in her 80th game.

Jolene Anderson, JR, WIS, G 
2nd-Coaches, 2nd-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  17.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.1 spg

Anderson, the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year in 2005, led the team in scoring for a second season and scored 20 points or more in 12 games.  She became UW's fastest player to 1,000 points in her 57th career game to close her sophomore year in 2006.  The Badger junior had seven doubles-doubles in 2005-06 and 11 in her career, while just missing a triple-double by two rebounds against Michigan State with a career-high 10 assists, 14 points and eight rebounds.

Amanda Brown, SR, PSU, F/C 
2nd-Coaches, 3rd-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  15.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg, .593 FG%

Brown joined Ohio State's Davenport as the only two Big Ten standouts to rank in the top six in points (15.6, 6th), rebounds (7.3, 4th), blocks (2.0, 2nd) and field goal percentage (.593, 2nd) last year.  She tallied six double-doubles during 2005-06, which ranked sixth in the Big Ten, and scored in double digits on 26 occasions.  Brown also eclipsed the 20-point mark five times last season, including a career high 29 points and eight rebounds against No. 8 Purdue.

Megan Skouby, SO, IOWA, C 
3rd-Coaches, 2nd-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  14.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.6 bpg, .551 FG%

Last season, the consensus Big Ten Freshman of the Year played in all 29 games, including 18 starts.  Skouby ranked fourth overall in Big Ten blocked shots (1.62) and field goal percentage (.551) and 10th in scoring (14.3).  Her 16.8 points per contest average in conference games was the highest output by a freshman since Penn State's Kelly Mazzante averaged 19.7 points in 2000-01.  Skouby scored in double figures 23 times, including the last 16 contests of her freshman year, which helped place her second all-time in Iowa single-season history for freshman scoring (414) and blocks (47).

Marscilla Packer, SR, OSU, G 
3rd-Coaches, 3rd-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  10.8 ppg, .471 FG%, .462 3PG%, 2.5 3FGM

Packer returns as the Buckeyes' top perimeter threat.  The senior guard's three-point percentage of .462 ranked second all-time in Big Ten for single-season shooting.  In addition, Packer enters the year ranked first in OSU history for career three-point percentage (.427).  Her junior season was highlighted by a career-best 32 points at Minnesota (Feb. 16), in which she made 12-of-15 from the floor and 8-of-10 from beyond the arc, and game-winning baskets to beat Penn State in the regular-season finale and Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament final.

Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, JR, PUR, F 
3rd-Coaches, 3rd-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  10.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.5 spg, 1.9 bpg, .498 FG%

Purdue's inside presence returns as one of the conference's top defensive players.  Wisdom-Hylton ranked second in the Big Ten in overall steals (2.45) and third in blocks (1.91) last season and was a member of Big Ten's first-ever All-Defensive Team.  She also proved dominant on the other end of the floor as she was Purdue's most accurate shooter from the field (.498) and was a double-figure scorer on 22 occasions, including 13 times in Big Ten play.

Brandie Hoskins, SR, OSU, G 
HM-Coaches, 3rd-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  12.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, .472 FG%, 1.33 A/T Ratio

Hoskins' junior year was stamped for approval when she was selected the 2006 Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player after averaging 15 points per game in OSU's three-game run to its first conference tournament title.  The Buckeye guard, who has started 96 of 97 career games, turned in a career performance against Eastern Kentucky last season with a personal-best 26 points and 10 assists.

Kamela Gissendanner, JR, PSU, G 
HM-Coaches, HM-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  14.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, .859 FT%

Gissendanner, who transferred to Penn State after playing the 2003-04 season at N.C. State, started all 29 games for the Lady Lions in 2005-06.  The PSU guard ranked fourth in Big Ten free-throw shooting (.859) and strung together 20 games of reaching double-digit scoring figures.  She went for a career high 34 points against then-No. 24 Texas Tech, which marked second-highest output in the Big Ten last season.

Victoria Lucas-Perry, SR, MSU, G 
HM-Coaches, HM-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  10.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, .401 FG%, .387 3FG%

Lucas-Perry, one of three tri-captains last year, finished third on the team with a career high 10.2 points per game, while starting at guard in 30 of 33 games.  She ended the season on a high note, scoring 13 points, all in the second half, and leading MSU with nine rebounds in the NCAA second-round win over Kentucky, before the Spartans fell to Duke in the Bridgeport Regional semifinal.  Lucas-Perry notched a team-best 17 points in that game.

Janese Banks, JR, WIS, G 
2005-06 Statistics:  12.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.0 spg

Banks responded in 2005-06 with an impressive sophomore campaign as she ranked second in the Big Ten in assists (4.42), sixth in minutes played (33.88), 10th in steals (2.00), 15th in scoring (12.8) and 18th in rebounding (5.4).
Erin Lawless, SR, PUR, F HM-Media
2005-06 Statistics:  10.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.1 spg, .460 FG%
A member of the Big Ten All-Tournament team, Lawless led Purdue in scoring in both Big Ten Tournament and NCAA games with a postseason average of 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.  She became the 22nd Boilermaker to eclipse 1,000 career points when she did so in the final game of the season.

Brianne O'Rourke, SO, PSU, G 
2005-06 Statistics:  7.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, 2.2 rpg, 1.37 A/T Ratio

The conference leader in overall assists at 5.14 last season, O'Rourke returns for her sophomore campaign as Penn State's floor general.  The Big Ten All-Freshman Team member ranked fifth last season in minutes played (34.07) -- the most of any freshman -- and was eighth in the conference with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.37.

Krista VandeVenter, JR, IOWA, F 
2005-06 Statistics:  8.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.1 spg

VandeVenter has scored exactly 500 points in her Hawkeye career and is the only Iowa player to start in all 62 games in her first two seasons.  Statistically, her 8.2 rebounds per game average ranked third in the conference last year, while her steals average of 2.10 was tied for seventh-best.

Erin Wigley, SR, ILL, F 
2005-06 Statistics:  11.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.1 spg

Wigley ranked 19th overall in Big Ten scoring (11.2) last year and 17th in rebounding (5.5).  She topped her previous career high of 19 points twice in 2005-06, with outputs of 20 at Iowa and 22 at home against Illinois State.

Big Ten Ready to Rock `n Roll En Route to Cleveland
The Big Ten has sent five teams to the past eight Final Fours, including two in the last three seasons, and hopes to accomplish the feat once again.  This year, the conference has its eyes set on Cleveland, Ohio -- home of the Rock `n Roll Hall of Fame and the 2007 NCAA Women's Final Four.  The championship event has been set for April 1 and 3, at the Quicken Loans Arena (20,000).  Cleveland State University and the Mid-American Conference will serve as hosts.

Buckeyes Looking For Third-Straight Big Ten Title
Two-time defending Big Ten champion Ohio State will enter the 2006-07 season in search of its third-consecutive conference title.  Last year, the Buckeyes clinched their first outright Big Ten crown since the 1985-86 season, which marked the ninth conference championship and fourth outright title in school history.  The championship also marked the first time OSU won back-to-back Big Ten regular season titles since 1985-86 and 1986-87.  The conference has not had a team win three-consecutive regular season titles since Iowa accomplished the feat from 1987-88 to 1989-90.  Ohio State captured five-straight conference championships from 1982-83 through 1986-87.

Over Half of Conference's Top Scorers Return
Six of last season's top-10 conference scorers return for the 2006-07 season, led by Ohio State's Jessica Davenport.  As a junior, the Buckeye center posted an average of 18.7 points per game, which was tied for 22nd best in the country.  Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson (17.3) was fourth in Big Ten scoring last year, while Penn State's Amanda Brown (15.6) was sixth.  Purdue's Katie Gearlds (15.0), Penn State's Kamela Gissendanner (14.8) and Iowa's Megan Skouby (14.3) ranked eighth through 10th, respectively, in the conference a year ago.

Points Come in Pairs
Among tandems in which both players return this year, Ohio State seniors Jessica Davenport and Brandie Hoskins are the highest-scoring Big Ten duo returning in 2006-07.

Big Ten's Highest-Scoring Duos
1. Jessica Davenport (18.7) & Brandie Hoskins (12.3), OSU 31.0
2. Amanda Brown (15.6) & Kamela Gissendanner (14.8), PSU 30.4
3. Jolene Anderson (17.3) & Janese Banks (12.8), WIS 30.1
4. Katie Gearlds (15.0) & Erin Lawless (10.3), PUR 25.3
5. Erin Wigley (11.2) & Lori Bjork (10.1), ILL 21.3

Back to the Block
Of all Big Ten statistical categories, none has more top-10 returning players than blocked shots.  All top-five shot blockers and a total of eight of last year's top 10 return for the 2006-07 campaign.  Ohio State's Jessica Davenport's 3.06 blocks per game as a junior led the Big Ten and was 10th-best in the country.  Penn State's Amanda Brown (1.97) and Purdue's Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (1.91) were also ranked in the nation's top 50 a year ago.  Iowa's Megan Skouby (1.62) and Wisconsin's Danielle Ward (1.55) were fourth and fifth best in the conference, while Michigan's Stephany Skrba (0.90), Penn State's Romana Vynuchalova (0.85) and Purdue's Katie Gearlds (0.85) rounded out places eighth through 10th last year.

Nation's Top Shooters Returning to Big Ten
Three Big Ten standouts ranked among the country's top five in their respective shooting categories last year.  Penn State's Adrienne Squire led the nation at the free-throw line with a .964 percentage.  Ohio State's Jessica Davenport ranked fourth in the country with a field goal percentage of .618, while her teammate Marscilla Packer was fifth among accurate perimeter shooters with a percentage of .462 from beyond the three-point line.

Three Schools Welcome Back All Five Starters
Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State are set to welcome back all five of their starters from the 2005-06 season.  Last year, Michigan was one of the conference's top perimeter-shooting teams, ranking second with 5.00 three-point field goals made per game.  Northwestern was third in steals (9.39) and fourth in assists (15.29), while Penn State was third in field-goal (.439) and free-throw (.758) percentages.

OSU Opens With Army in Emotional Game
Ohio State will begin the conference's nationally-televised package on the ESPN family of networks when it opens the season against Army in the Maggie Dixon Classic.  Head coach Jim Foster and the Buckeyes will face the Black Knights in their emotional return to the court after the untimely passing of their head coach for whom the tournament is named.  Last year, Dixon led Army to its first NCAA Tournament bid in school history and its first 20-win season since 1990-91.

Purdue to Open 2006-07 in Preseason WNIT
Purdue will open the 2006-07 season with a Nov. 9 home game against Belmont as part of first round action of the 2006 Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).  The 16-team field includes 11 teams that played in the postseason last season.  Purdue, along with 2005 NCAA Champion Baylor, BYU, Dartmouth, Hartford, North Carolina State, St. John's and Stanford played in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, while Belmont, Hofstra and Idaho State qualified for the Postseason WNIT field. High Point, Iona, Loyola-Marymount, North Texas and Wichita State round out the tournament field.  The single-elimination tournament runs through Nov. 19. 

Two Big Ten Stars Named to Wade Trophy Watch
Ohio State's Jessica Davenport and Purdue's Katie Gearlds were named by a national awards committee consisting of leading basketball coaches, journalists, and basketball administrators Aug. 17 as preseason candidates for the 2007 State Farm Wade Trophy. The list is comprised of 25 student-athletes who are members of an NCAA Division I institution and are selected based on the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability.

The Big Ten has had two State Farm Wade Trophy Award winners, most recently in 1999 when Purdue's Stephanie White received the honor.  Minnesota's Carol Ann Shudlick was the Wade Trophy winner in 1994.

The 2007 State Farm Wade Trophy winner will be announced during the WBCA National Convention held in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Final Four in Cleveland, Ohio, March 30-April 3, 2007.

Ohio State's Davenport has also been named among 30 preseason candidates for the Wooden Award.  She is now eligible for the Midseason Top 20 list and the National Ballot.  The award will be given April 7, 2007.  

Big Ten to Compete in 34 Regional/National TV Games
The Big Ten will have at least 34 women's basketball games televised nationally and regionally for the upcoming 2006-07 season.  A total of 12 games will be aired nationally on CBS, ESPN2, ESPNU and CSTV, while the remaining 22 contests, including nine of the 10 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament games, will be televised on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

CBS Sports to Air Regional Big Ten Coverage
Big Ten basketball hits the national scene on the afternoon of Jan. 6, when Michigan State and Ohio State will be broadcast in their respective games on CBS.  Portions of the national viewing audience will see Kentucky at two-time defending conference champion Ohio State at 12 p.m. ET, followed by Michigan State at the reigning national champion Maryland at 2 p.m. ET. 

ESPN2 to Broadcast Big Ten Teams Seven Times
ESPN2 will air its first of seven games featuring Big Ten teams this season when it broadcasts Purdue at Connecticut on Nov. 30.  Three weeks later, ESPN2 will televise Ohio State at Oklahoma on Dec. 20, followed by another Big Ten-Big 12 matchup when Purdue travels to Texas on Jan. 7.  Michigan State will be shown on national television on Jan. 28 when it visits Rutgers, a game which will precede three Big Ten contests including the Big Ten Tournament Championship game.

"February Frenzy" Highlights Big Ten Matchup
This season's women's basketball coverage on ESPN2 includes a late-season doubleheader dubbed "February Frenzy."  The 2007 February Frenzy will take place on Sunday, Feb. 11, and will include Michigan State at Purdue at 3:10 p.m.  Four games will be slated for staggered start-times at both 3 and 5 p.m. ET.  ESPN2's coverage will "whip around" the four games, which replicates ESPN's regional coverage of early round NCAA women's basketball tournament games the past two seasons. 

Big Ten Venues to Host NCAA First & Second Rounds
Two Big Ten teams that have endured much success in the NCAA Tournament will play the role of host during the 2007 NCAA Championship First- and Second-Round Games.  Minnesota, a 2004 Final Four participant, will host eight teams March 17 and 19, 2007 in Williams Arena (14,669).  An NCAA Championship finalist in 2005, Michigan State will welcome eight teams to the Breslin Center (15,085) for action on March 18 and 20.

Former Purdue Standout Stars in Big Ten Campaign
Former Purdue All-American Katie Douglas is one of 11 selected student-athletes that will be the face of the Big Ten Conference this year as it celebrates its 25th Anniversary of Women's Championships.  Douglas has been featured in a 30-second public service announcement "sharing her story" about overcoming family tragedy to become a Big Ten and NCAA Champion.  To learn more about Douglas, as well as the conference's year-long campaign, log on to

Indiana's Versyp Moves Upstate to Purdue
Following the departure of Kristy Curry, Sharon Versyp was introduced as the new Purdue women's basketball head coach on April 10.  She returns to her alma mater after one year as head coach at Indiana, where she guided the Hoosiers to a 19-14 overall record and a 9-7 Big Ten mark. The turnaround from a 10-18 (3-13) campaign in 2004-05 stands as the second-best improvement in Indiana history.  Versyp was a four-year letterwinner for the Boilermakers from 1985-88 and is still one of only seven players in Purdue history to start all four years.

Hoosiers Hire Former Spartan Assistant
On April 19, Indiana announced the hiring of Felisha Legette-Jack as its eighth women's basketball head coach.  Legette-Jack owns 15 years of Division I college coaching experience, including assistant stops at Michigan State, Syracuse and Boston College and most recently the last four years as the head coach at Hofstra University.  An assistant under Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie for two years (2000-02), Legette-Jack arrives in Bloomington after directing Hofstra to a 19-12 overall record and 12-6 Colonial Athletic Association mark in 2005-06, culminating in a Women's National Invitation Tournament appearance.

Spartans' McCallie Wins Gold with Team USA U-20s
Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie coached the United States Under-20 team to a gold medal and a perfect 5-0 record at the FIBA Americas U-20 Championship in Mexico City this past August.  The Spartan mentor, who coached Big Ten standouts Victoria Lucas-Perry (MSU), Marscilla Packer (OSU), Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (PUR) and Jolene Anderson (WIS), guided the team to a convincing 96-54 win over Brazil in the gold medal game.

Back Where I Come From?
Four Big Ten coaches have a very unique tie to the conference as one has returned to her alma mater and the other three played at a different Big Ten school than the one they are currently employed at.  Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie was a member of the Northwestern squad from 1984-87, while NU mentor Beth Combs was a student-athlete at Illinois from 1987-89 and Wisconsin's Lisa Stone played at Iowa from 1980-84.  This year, Sharon Versyp returns to her home in West Lafayette where she played at Purdue from 1984-88.  Versyp coached at Indiana during the 2005-06 season.

Big Ten Coach, Current School, Played At
Joanne P. McCallie, MSU, NU, 1984-87
Beth Combs, NU, ILL, 1987-89
Lisa Stone, WIS, IOWA, 1980-84
Sharon Versyp, PUR, PUR, 1985-88

The Immaculata Idols
Illinois head coach Theresa Grentz and Penn State mentor Rene Portland were former teammates at Immaculata back in the mid-70s.  Today, they are together again as the most tenured head coaches in the Big Ten.  The 2006-07 season marks the 27th season at PSU for Portland, while Grentz enters her 12th year with the Illini.  In fact, those combined 39 years on a conference campus are three more than the total of the remaining nine Big Ten coaches' tenures.  The landscape of conference mentors has taken on a fairly fresh look since the 1999-00 season.  Excluding Grentz and Portland, nine of the 11 conference coaches have spent six years or less at their respective schools.  Seven coaches have spent less than four years on their respective Big Ten campuses.

27 Rene Portland, PSU 
12 Theresa Grentz, ILL 
7 Lisa Bluder, IOWA 
7 Joanne P. McCallie, MSU 
5 Pam Borton, MINN 
5 Jim Foster, OSU
4 Cheryl Burnett, MICH
4 Lisa Stone, WIS
3 Beth Combs, NU
1 Sharon Versyp, PUR
0 Felisha Legette-Jack, IND

Grentz Guides Big Ten Foreign Tour to Perfect Mark
Illinois' Theresa Grentz coached the Big Ten Foreign Tour team to a perfect 4-0 record and its fifth-straight undefeated trip this past July.  The Illini mentor guided the 12-member squad through Denmark, Sweden and Norway during the 10-day adventure and helped keep the Tour's win streak alive at 23 games.  Since the inception of the Tour in 1992, which has been held annually except for 2003, the All-Stars have gone 55-18 (.753).

Wildcats' Combs Welcomes a Pair of Boilermakers
Northwestern head coach Beth Combs added a pair of former Purdue standouts to her administrative staff this past summer in Kelly Komara and Carol Duncan.  Komara, formerly a graduate assistant at Auburn, was named an assistant coach while Duncan was appointed assistant director of operations.  The 2001 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Komara helped guide Purdue to the 1999 NCAA title and to the final game of the 2001 NCAA Championship.  Duncan was a four-year forward and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten performer at Purdue from 2002-06.