All But One Conference Team in Action This Weekend

Nov. 15, 2005

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Big Ten Opens 24th Season of Conference Play
This year marks the 24th season of Big Ten Women's Basketball.  Women's athletics were officially incorporated into the Big Ten in 1981-82, with basketball beginning in 1982-83.  Since its official inception, Big Ten Women's Basketball has become one of the elite conferences in the nation.  The league has now produced consecutive Final Four participants and five in the past seven years.  The Big Ten has set attendance records in each of the last four years and has posted its most successful back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in Big Ten history over the past two.

A Look at the Week Ahead...
A total of 10 Big Ten schools, excluding Ohio State, will begin in action this week with nine schools opening up their 2005-06 campaign.

Six games are slated for Friday, while three contests will take place on Saturday and six games scheduled for Sunday.

A handful of games involving Big Ten schools are making extra headlines this week.  Penn State will host No. 1/2 Duke on Friday at 8 p.m. ET, while Indiana plays host to defending national champion Baylor (No. 6/7) on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.  No. 10/11 Michigan State, which fell to Baylor in last year's championship game, opens at home with a pair of games this weekend with UC Santa Barbara and Western Carolina.  The first top 25 matchup could take place in the finals of the Subway Classic in Minneapolis, Minn., as No. 11/10 Stanford could meet No. 16/17 Minnesota on Sunday.

Four Big Ten Teams Ranked in Nation's Top 25
Four conference squads are ranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls.  Ohio State is ranked fourth in both polls, while Michigan State is rated 10th and 11th, respectively.  No. 16/17 Minnesota and No. 19/23 Purdue round out the Big Ten contingent.

When Hitting 30 is Actually Great
In its 80-52 win over Saint Francis (Pa.) last week, Michigan connected on 30-of-35 free throws, which matched the school record.  The Wolverines hit 30 free throws at Detroit on Nov. 18, 2001 and at Minnesota on March 6, 1988.

A Quick Look at Who Returns...
Five league teams return four or more starters, while nine schools welcome back at least three.  Of the league's 55 starters from last year, 35 (64 percent) return for the 2004-05 campaign.  In addition, 85 letterwinners return as well.  The following is a closer look at the breakdown of each conference school:

Team (Starters, Letterwinners)
Illinois 3, 7
Indiana 3, 10
Iowa 2, 8
Michigan 4, 6
Michigan State 3, 9
Minnesota 4, 12
Northwestern 3, 5
Ohio State 4, 11
Penn State 1, 3
Purdue 4, 8
Wisconsin 4, 6
Total 35, 85

A Closer Look at Who is Back
The Big Ten welcomes back seven members of the 2004-05 All-Big Ten team, including last season's lone unanimous first-team selection in Jessica Davenport of Ohio State.  The Buckeye junior was also tabbed the 2005 Big Ten Player of the Year by both the league coaches and the media.  Returning from the second team are Michigan State's Lindsay Bowen and Liz Shimek, along with Purdue's Katie Gearlds.  Third-team honorees from a year ago include Iowa's Crystal Smith, Ohio State's Brandie Hoskins and Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson, who was also selected Big Ten Freshman of the Year by both coaches and media.

Also returning to the league this season are five honorable mention All-Big Ten selections in Indiana's Cyndi Valentin, Michigan State's Rene Haynes, Minnesota's Jamie Broback and Shannon Schonrock and Purdue's Erin Lawless.

One additional conference standout that will compete this season after sitting out the entire 2004-05 season due to a torn ACL is Indiana senior Jenny DeMuth.  In 2003-04, DeMuth was tabbed second-team All-Big Ten by the media and third-team by the conference coaches.

Gophers' Broback on Leave of Absence
Minnesota junior forward Jamie Broback has taken a leave of absence from the Golden Gopher women's basketball team for personal reasons and her return is unknown.  Broback, a returning starter at power forward, was selected a Street & Smith Honorable Mention All-American and a Preseason All-Big Ten honoree prior to the season.  Last year, she was second on the team in scoring (14.4) and led the Gophers (14.7) in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.  Broback was also named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team after averaging a tournament-leading 23.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Spartans & Buckeyes Not Looking to Share
Michigan State and Ohio State enter the 2005-06 season looking to successfully defend their co-Big Ten Championship from a year ago.  Last year marked the ninth time in league history and the first time since the 1996-97 season that the Big Ten regular season title was shared by two teams.  The Buckeyes have not captured consecutive league titles since winning five straight from 1983-1987.  Michigan State tallied its second-ever conference championship last year and its first since 1997.

Points Come in Pairs
Among tandems in which both players return this year, Indiana senior Jenny DeMuth and senior Cyndi Valentin are the highest-scoring Big Ten duo returning in 2005-06.

Big Ten's Highest-Scoring Duos
 1. Jenny DeMuth & Cyndi Valentin (IND)  *33.3
 2. Jessica Davenport & Brandie Hoskins (OSU) 32.5
 3. Liz Shimek & Lindsay Bowen (MSU) 28.6
 4. Jolene Anderson & Janese Banks (WIS) 28.4
 5. Erin Lawless & Katie Gearlds (PUR) 28.3

*Includes DeMuth's 2003-04 stats; DNP in 2004-05 (Injury)

Versyp Takes Over Indiana Program
Sharon Versyp, whose coaching career includes seven years as an Indiana high school coach, four years as a Division I assistant coach and most recently five years as the head coach at the University of Maine, was appointed Indiana's seventh head women's basketball coach in the 34-year history of the program, IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan announced April 8. She replaces former head coach Kathi Bennett, who resigned on March 1.  Versyp returns to her home state after leading the Black Bears to three-straight America East regular season championships (2003, 2004, 2005), the 2004 America East Tournament title and a trip to the 2004 NCAA Tournament.  Ironically, the 2003 and 2005 America East Coach of the Year replaced Joanne P. McCallie at Maine, who was hired on as the head coach at Michigan State.

Spreading the Love Around the League
Five non-conference teams that are ranked in the top 25 will face multiple Big Ten squads this season.  No. 15/15 Notre Dame and No. 25/25 Oklahoma will each face four conference schools this season, while No. 3/3 LSU will face three league teams.  No. 5/5 Rutgers, No. 18/19 DePaul and Iowa State, which finished 25th in the polls last season and is currently receiving votes, will each face two Big Ten squads apiece.  Below is a list of those five teams and their "Big Ten schedule," including the Cyclones that are receiving votes in the Associated Press poll.

Opponent (05-06 Rank) - Scheduled Big Ten Teams
LSU (3/3) - @OSU, MSU, MINN
Rutgers (5/5) - IOWA, @MSU
Notre Dame (15/15) - MICH, @IND, @WIS, @PUR 
DePaul (18/19) - PUR, @NU
Oklahoma (25/25) - IOWA, @ILL, MSU, @OSU
Iowa State (arv) - IOWA, @MINN

Indiana to Open Against National Champs
Hoosiers' head coach Sharon Versyp will not have the opportunity to ease her way into the 2005-06 season as Indiana opens its campaign at home this Saturday against defending national champion Baylor.  The Lady Bears, who defeated Michigan State 84-62 in the final game last year, finished the season 33-3.  Indiana, however, opened its 2004-05 season at Baylor and gave the Lady Bears all they could ask for before falling 60-47 in the late stages of the game.

Injured Iowa
Poised to make a run at the top of the Big Ten standings this year, Iowa was dealt yet another blow in early August as senior small forward Johanna Solverson tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. Solverson became the second Hawkeye starter to suffer an ACL injury this past summer and will miss the 2005-06 season. Point guard Lindsay Richards, who missed all of last season and was looking to play a key role for the Hawkeyes in 2005-06, sustained her third ACL injury in as many years in July.

Last year, Solverson became only the second Iowa player to amass over 350 points, 125 assists and rebounds and 70 steals in a single season.

Stringer to Return to Iowa City
One of Iowa's most-anticipated contests this season will be against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, when they travel to Iowa City to take part in the KCRG-TV9 Hawkeye Challenge, December 3-4.  Should Iowa get past Vermont in the first game, it will most likely face Rutgers in the championship game, which is coached by former Hawkeye mentor C. Vivian Stringer.  Iowa's all-time winningest coach, Stringer guided the Hawkeyes to 269 victories, six Big Ten Championships and one Final Four appearance in 12 years on the Iowa sidelines.

Penn State & Purdue to Host 1st/2nd Rounds
Two Big Ten teams that have endured much success in the NCAA Tournament will play the role of host during the 2006 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship First- and Second-Round Games.  Penn State will welcome eight teams between Sunday, March 19, and Tuesday, March 21, 2006, at the Bryce Jordan Center, while Purdue will host eight other teams at Mackey Arena for tournament action beginning March 19 as well.

All-Big Ten Scholars Return to the Court
For the upcoming season, 28 of the 43 (65 percent) women's basketball players that earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2005 will return for the 2006 campaign.  Minnesota, which ranked 24th on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's (WBCA) 2004-2005 Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll, returns all eight Academic All-Big Ten selections from a year ago.