2007-08 Big Ten Women's Basketball Season Tips Off on Friday

Nikki Smith and the Indiana Hoosiers open their season on Friday against Albany.

Nikki Smith and the Indiana Hoosiers open their season on Friday against Albany.

Nov. 7, 2007

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The 2007-08 Big Ten women's basketball season tips off on Friday with seven of the conference's 11 squads in action. The 2007-08 campaign will feature more national and regional television coverage than ever before with 65 games currently set to air on CBS, the Big Ten Network, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com and FSN.

Buckeyes Shoot to Make it Four in a Row
Despite losing three-time Big Ten Player of the Year Jessica Davenport to graduation, Ohio State still returns a good portion of its offensive firepower as it looks to become the first conference squad to win four straight championships since Iowa did it from 1987-90. The Buckeyes welcome back last year's Big Ten field-goal percentage champion Star Allen, as well as Marscilla Packer, a preseason candidate for the State Farm Wade Trophy. Packer and Allen were the third- and fourth-highest scorers for OSU a year ago, respectively averaging 10.4 and 10.1 points per game.

Welcome to the Block Party
2006-07 was a banner season for the Big Ten in terms of blocked shots, as Freshman of the Year Allyssa DeHaan set a Big Ten single season and NCAA Division I freshman record with 145 swats. Including DeHaan, the conference returns nine of its top 15 shot blockers from a year ago, including six of its top 10. Behind its 6-9 center, Michigan State finished fourth in the nation in blocks, while the conference was also represented by Purdue (20th) and Illinois (26th) among the top 30.

Top Scorers Return for 2007-08
The Big Ten returns five of its top 10 scorers from a year ago and eight of its top 15. Big Ten scoring champion Jolene Anderson (19.8 ppg) of Wisconsin returns for her senior season and is joined by teammate Janese Banks (14.6), Tyra Grant of Penn State (14.6), Lori Bjork of Illinois (14.3) and Kristi Smith of Iowa (13.4) in the top 10. Six of the conference's 11 teams return their top scorer from last season, including Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, who each return their top two.

Top Five Conference Assists Leaders Return
All five of the Big Ten's assists leaders in 2006-07 are back for the upcoming campaign. Wisconsin's Rae Lin D'Alie led the conference in assists as a freshman last season with 4.58 per game, while Penn Sate's Brianne O'Rourke was second (4.29 apg), Iowa's Kristi Smith was third (4.13), Purdue's FahKara Malone was fourth (4.00) and Minnesota's Emily Fox was fifth (3.97). All five of the leaders were underclassmen last season.

Wisconsin's Dynamic Duo
Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson and Janese Banks represent the highest-scoring returning duo in the Big Ten entering the 2007-08 season. The conference's top five scoring tandems returning for this season can be found below.

Big Ten's Highest-Scoring Duos
1. Jolene Anderson (19.8) & Janese Banks (14.6), WIS 34.4
2. Tyra Grant (14.6) & Kamela Gissendanner (12.8), PSU 27.4
3. Kristi Smith (13.4) & Megan Skouby (13.2), IOWA 26.6
4. Lori Bjork (14.3) & Jenna Smith (11.1), ILL 25.4
5. Allyssa DeHaan (12.5) & Aisha Jefferson (10.4), MSU 22.9

Big Ten Teams Ranked in Preseason Polls
Ohio State
(No. 16), Michigan State (No. 18) and Purdue (No. 20) were ranked in the preseason USA Today coaches' poll released last week, while Wisconsin and Minnesota received votes outside the top 25. The Buckeyes came in at No. 16 in the preseason Associated Press poll, while the Spartans followed at No. 17, and the Boilermakers and Badgers each received votes outside the poll.

Three Big Ten Standouts Candidates for Wooden Award
Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson, Michigan State's Allyssa DeHaan and Ohio State's Marscilla Packer were named preseason candidates for the Wooden Award, the John R. Wooden Award committee announced in late October. Anderson, DeHaan and Packer are three of a 30-member preseason watch list for college basketball's most coveted trophy.

Two Top Conference Players Named to Wade Watch List
Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson and Ohio State's Marscilla Packer were named to the preseason watch list for the State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year award on August 14. Anderson and Packer are part of a 25-player list that was selected by a committee of leading coaches, journalists and basketball administrators. The list is comprised of top Division I student-athletes who best embody the spirit of Margaret Wade according to the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability.

Big Ten Coaches Among Nation's Newest
The Big Ten owns the freshest crop of coaches among the six major conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC) with eight of the 11 leaders having been at their respective institutions for less than five years. Of those eight, six have been at their respective schools for less than two years, four are in their first season with their respective teams and two are head coaching rookies.

Michigan State Headlines Preseason WNIT Action
Michigan State
opens its 2007-08 campaign in the Preseason WNIT at home against IUPUI on Friday, Nov. 9. Seven schools in the 16-team field earned berths into the NCAA Tournament, including Michigan State and Final Four participant LSU. In addition, Delaware, Delaware State, Maryland, Notre Dame and TCU made the NCAA bracket, while East Tennessee State and Western Kentucky advanced into the Postseason WNIT field. Evansville, IUPUI, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Princeton, Radford and Samford round out the 2007 Preseason WNIT bracket. A Big Ten team has appeared in the event's title game in two of the last three seasons, including Purdue, who won the championship last season. Ohio State finished as the runner-up in 2004.

Big Ten Makes Schedule Change
The Big Ten added two games to each team's conference schedule for the 2007-08 season, marking the first time since the 1993-94 campaign that Big Ten women's basketball will play an 18-game conference slate.

More Television Coverage Than Ever
Big Ten women's basketball will enjoy more television coverage than ever before with 65 regular-season games scheduled to air on CBS, the Big Ten Network, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com  and FSN this season. The total means that the Big Ten will enjoy two times as much national television exposure than any other conference in the nation. The Big Ten Network will carry 55 regular-season women's basketball games and nine of the 10 contests in the Women's Basketball Tournament. The 55-game regular-season total is the most college women's basketball to be broadcast by any network in the country. The network has also dedicated itself to total event equality for men's and women's sports within its first three years. Additionally, the network will provide in-depth coverage and analysis on Big Ten women's basketball, including a weekly program on Monday nights dedicated to Big Ten women's sports.

A total of 11 games will be broadcast nationally on CBS, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360.com and FSN, including the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament championship game, set to air on ESPN2. The ESPN networks will also air coverage of the inaugural Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

CBS Sports to Air Regional Big Ten Coverage
CBS will air coverage of Big Ten women's basketball on back-to-back days, beginning with Penn State at Michigan State on Saturday, Jan. 5 at Noon ET. On Sunday, Jan. 6, CBS will cover Purdue as the Boilermakers host perennial powerhouse Connecticut at 1:30 p.m. ET.

ESPN Family to Broadcast Eight Big Ten Games
ESPN2 will air six regular-season games, beginning with Purdue at North Carolina on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m. ET, as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The channel's coverage of the event will continue on Sunday, Dec. 2, as it will carry Duke at Penn State at 5 p.m. ET. ESPN2 will air its first conference matchup on Sunday, Feb. 10, as defending Big Ten Champion Ohio State visits Wisconsin at 4:30 p.m. ET. The network will then air two Big Ten matchups in the month of February with Purdue at Ohio State on Monday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. ET, and Michigan State at Purdue on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m. ET. ESPN2's 2007-08 coverage of Big Ten women's basketball will conclude with the conference tournament championship game on Sunday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

ESPNU will carry one game as Ohio State heads to Maryland as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. ET. ESPN360.com will also air one contest as Indiana plays at Kansas at 2 p.m. CT on Dec 9.

Big Ten Fans Pack the House
Last season, the Big Ten boasted a nation-best six teams among the top 20 in attendance leaders. Overall, the Big Ten finished second in the nation with an average 4,321 fans attending each game on a conference campus. The Big Ten has finished either first or second in the national attendance rankings in each of the last 15 years.

Big Ten/ACC Women's Basketball Challenge
The Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference announced in May the formation of an annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge for women's basketball, which will span at least four years and begin this fall. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge will match 11 teams from each conference in head-to-head competition traditionally on the first Wednesday, Thursday and Friday after Thanksgiving, following the men's basketball Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The inaugural edition begins on Nov. 19 as Michigan heads to Miami, and concludes as Penn State hosts Duke on Dec. 2. Seven of the Challenge's 11 games will be nationally televised, including four by the Big Ten Network, two by ESPN2 and one by ESPNU.

The inaugural Challenge features two preseason top-25 matchups and two 2006-07 postseason re-matches. Top-25 action gets underway as No. 16/16 Ohio State takes on No. 4/4 Maryland in University Park, and No. --/20 Purdue welcomes No. 8/7 North Carolina to West Lafayette. The Purdue-North Carolina contest is a re-match of the 2007 NCAA Regional Finals, while Wisconsin will travel to Virginia in what will be a re-match of the 2007 Postseason WNIT Quarterfinals.

Big Ten Tournament Returns To Circle City
The Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament will remain in Indianapolis in 2008, marking the seventh consecutive season the event has been held in the Circle City. The Big Ten men's and women's tournaments will be held in Indianapolis for five years beginning this season. New to this year's women's bracket is the addition of Saturday competition. The 2008 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament presented by XBox 360 Live will be played on four consecutive days for the first time since 2001 when the tournament was held in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Mackey Arena to Host NCAA Competition
An Elite Eight participant in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, Purdue looks to replicate its postseason success on its home court this year, as Mackey Arena (14,123) has been selected to host NCAA First- and Second-Round action. The Boilermakers will welcome eight teams to West Lafayette on March 23 and 25.

Big Ten Aims for Fun in the Sun at Final Four in Tampa
The Big Ten has sent five teams to the past nine Final Fours, including two in the last four seasons, and hopes to add to that total in 2008.  This season, the conference has its eyes set on sunny skies and clear blue water as the 2008 NCAA Women's Final four will be held in Tampa Bay, Fla. The championship event will be played April 6 and 8 at the St. Pete Times Forum (21,497).  The University of South Florida will serve as the event's host.


 

 

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