Final Four Teams Minnesota and LSU Battle in Minneapolis Tuesday

Dec. 13, 2004

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

A Final Four in December?
Coming off its first Final Four appearance in school history, Minnesota makes its 2004-05 national television debut when the Gophers host another 2004 Final Four squad, LSU, on Tuesday, December 14. National player of the year candidates Janel McCarville of Minnesota and LSU's Seimone Augustus will battle head-to-head when the two teams meet on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET.  The Tuesday night game marks the Gophers' second against a No. 1 team in school history and the first time they have hosted a game versus a top-ranked team.

Easy as 1,2,3???
This Tuesday, Minnesota has the opportunity to complete a rare three-peat for the Big Ten.  In a span of a little more than two weeks, Big Ten teams knocked off two of the nation's top three teams and Minnesota hosts top-ranked LSU on Tuesday.  Two weeks ago, a pair of League teams knocked off the No. 2 and 3 teams in the Associated Press poll, as Penn State edged second-ranked North Carolina, 77-71, in State College and Michigan State defeated No. 3 Notre Dame in overtime, 82-73.  Minnesota can make it a clean 1-2-3 sweep on Tuesday against the top-ranked Tigers.

Seven League Teams Earn Recognition in National Polls
In last week's national polls (AP / USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches Poll), seven League teams earned recognition, led by No. 10/6 Ohio StateMichigan State and Minnesota are ranked 12th and 16th in both polls, respectively, while Purdue is ranked No. 21/19.  Illinois received votes in the AP poll, while Iowa and Penn State earned votes in both polls.

Purdue to Battle Duke in a "Blockbuster"
As a part of a doubleheader with the Purdue men's team battling Evansville, the Lady Boilermakers will face Duke in the Boilermaker BlockBuster at Conseco Fieldhouse on Saturday.  The game will be at 4:30 p.m. ET and is a rematch of the 1999 NCAA title game.

Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors, who is a former Purdue assistant, will have to have her Blue Devils ready as Purdue is 27-8 all-time in Indianapolis and has won its last seven straight in Conseco.

Penn State's Portland Returns to Bench for 650th Win
Penn State head coach Rene Portland returned to the Penn State bench to get her 650th victory as Lady Lions' coach, an 84-79 overtime decision over Pittsburgh on December 9.  Portland took a medical leave November 22, eight days after fainting during an 85-69 loss at Texas. After undergoing a series of tests, Portland received clearance from her physicians to return to her coaching duties.  Penn State started 0-3 for the first time under Portland, but was 3-0 under associate head coach Annie Troyan, including a 77-71 win over No. 2/4 North Carolina. 

Portland, in her 25th season as head coach at Penn State, has a career coaching record of 650-226, including 563-197 with the Lady Lions.

Hawk Talk:  Iowa Still Undefeated
At 8-0, Iowa remains one of 10 undefeated teams in the nation.  The Hawkeyes join Charlotte, Houston, Louisiana State, St. John's and West Virginia at 8-0, while Oregon, Stanford Tulsa and Wake Forest stand at 7-0.

Double-Digit Dandies
Four Conference student-athletes have scored in double-digits in every game so far this season.  Ohio State's Jessica Davenport leads the League with a streak of nine games, while Iowa's Jamie Cavey, Michigan's Tabitha Pool and Penn State's Tanisha Wright have all scored 10 or more points in eight consecutive games.  Currently 29 student-athletes have a double-figure scoring streak of two or more games. 

Big Ten Teams Outscoring Opponents Big Time
Six Conference teams - Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue - have each outscored their opponents by more than 10 points per game this season.  Ohio State tops the League with an impressive difference of 37.2 points per game.  The Buckeyes, who have played nine games, including two against top-25 teams, are currently outscoring their opponents, 739-416.  OSU beat Ohio on December 1, 107-37, matching the League's highest output of the year.  Minnesota is second in the League with a scoring margin of 17.5 ppg, while Michigan State holds a 15.4 difference over its opponents.  Purdue (14.4), Iowa (12.2) and Illinois (10.7) are also more than 10 points better than their opponents.

Playing For 20
A total of 23 student-athletes have gone for 20 or more points this season on 44 different occasions.  Penn State's Tanisha Wright has scored over 20 points in five games this season, including two contests with 30 or more points.  Michigan State's Lindsay Bowen has recorded three 20-point contests this season.  Bowen went for the League's season-best 33 points against Texas Christian on November 28, while Wright netted a career-high 32 points against Pittsburgh on December 9 and 30 in the Lady Lions' season-opener at then-No. 2/3 Texas on November 14.  Indiana's Cyndi Valentin became the third League player to score 30 or more points this season when she netted 30 against Indiana State on December 6.

Sharp-Shooting Buckeyes
In the 107-37 win over Ohio on December 1, Ohio State shot 40-59 from the field.  The .678 shooting percentage was the fifth best in League history.  Just this past week, the Buckeyes posted the League's second-highest mark of the season with a .647 (33-51) against Nebraska.  Ironically, the Buckeyes stake claim to the top-two all-time shooting percentages as OSU shot .720 against Wright State on December 18, 2003, and .689 against Minnesota on February 26, 2004.  The Buckeyes also made 13 three-pointers this season against Bowling Green (November 12), which is the Big Ten's second-best mark all-time, behind OSU's 14 against IUPUI (12/1/03) and Purdue's 14 against Florida A&M (12/3/94). 

In addition to the team, sophomore Jessica Davenport is also posting impressive performances.  Against Nebraska, Davenport was 12-of-14 from the field for a clip of .857.  Teammate Caity Matter equaled the League's best percentage from beyond the arc this season with a 5-of-6 (.833) night against the Cornhuskers. 

Big Ten Ranks Fourth in WBCA/Summerville RPI Ratings
In the latest WBCA/Summerville RPI Ratings, the Big Ten ranks fourth among all Conferences with a rating of .580.  Iowa holds an overall RPI rating of .683, which is fifth best in the nation.  Michigan State is eighth at .663, while No. 18 Purdue (.643), No. 20 Minnesota (.638) and No. 30 Ohio State (.622) round out the top 30.  In overall strength of schedule, Penn State is fifth at .721, while Northwestern is 15th at .672.  Purdue's mark of .667 is 16th, while Indiana is 24th at .661.   The complete list of ratings is located on page five.

Big Ten Proves Dominant in Overtime and Blowouts
The Big Ten has accumulated a combined record of 61-29 (.678) this season, but carries a 37-9 (.804) record in games that League teams either win by 16 points or more, or are extended into overtime.  Currently, Big Ten teams are 6-2 in overtime, 5-0 in games decided by 16-20 points and 26-7 in games decided by 21 or more points.  Michigan State is 2-0 in overtime games this year -- both of which came to ranked Big East opponents away from MSU's Breslin Center.

Big Ten Ranks Among NCAA Leaders
In the latest NCAA report (12/7/04), issued each week on Tuesdays, seven teams and two student-athletes rank in the top 10 in their respective categories.  Ohio State's Jessica Davenport is ninth with 3.3 blocked shots per game, while Michigan State's Kristin Haynie ranks ninth with 4.0 steals per game.  As a team, Ohio State is second in fouls per game (12.1), third in scoring margin (37.3), fourth in assists per game (20.8), free-throw percentage (.804) and three-point field goal percentage (.500) and fifth in scoring offense (81.6).  Illinois is sixth in blocks per game with 6.4, while Minnesota ranks seventh with a .494 field goal percentage.  Purdue is seventh with a defensive field goal percentage of .311.  Ranked ninth in scoring defense is Indiana at 49.0, as well as Penn State in free-throw percentage at .783.  Iowa is 10th in fouls per game at 13.5 

A Handful of League Coaches Record Milestone Wins
Six Big Ten coaches have already claimed milestone victories in their respective careers this season.  After being sidelined due to medical reasons for three games, Penn State's Rene Portland returned to claim her 650th career win as her Lady Lions defeated Pittsburgh, 84-79 in overtime on December 9.  That same night, Michigan State's Joanne P. McCallie captured her 75th win as the Spartans' head coach with an 85-45 win over Eastern Illinois.  Earlier this year, Iowa's Lisa Bluder gained her 75th win at Iowa as the Hawkeyes captured the KCRG TV-9 Hawkeye Challenge in Iowa City, with victories over Southern Illinois and Missouri. 

On December 5, Minnesota's Pam Borton won her 125th game at the helm of the Golden Gophers, in a 62-45 win over Kansas.  Beth Combs earned her first win at Northwestern on November 24 at home against Western Michigan.  The Wildcats won 64-60 to give the first-year head coach her first win at NU.  Ohio State's Jim Foster gained career win 550 in Columbus on November 17 as his Buckeyes topped No. 24/21 Arizona in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT.  Foster then captured his 50th win at Ohio State on December 4, as the Buckeyes beat Dayton.   

Penn State's Strom Eyes Big Ten Assists Record
Penn State senior Jess Strom needs no assistance as she climbs her way toward the top of the all-time Big Ten career assists mark.  Strom currently sits fourth with 692 assists for her career.  Northwestern's Nancy Kennelly holds the League record with 892 assists from 1988-93.

 Player, Team Years Assists 
1.  Nancy Kennelly, NU ... 1988-93 ... 892
2. Tina Nicholson, PSU ... 1992-96 ... 826
3. Helen Darling, PSU ... 1997-00 ... 791
4. Jess Strom, PSU ... 2002-Pres. ... 692
5. Jamie Lewis, OSU ... 1997-01 ... 643

An International Flavor
Eight Big Ten student-athletes from six different League schools hail from outside of the United States.  While three players are from just north of the border in Canada, five are natives of Africa, Germany, Senegal, Slovakia and Turkey.  A list of the eight international student-athletes follows:

Name, School, Pos., Yr., Hometown
Sarah McKay, IND, C, So., Victoria, British Columbia
Alisa Wulff, MSU, G, So., Pickering, Ontario
A.J. Glasauer, NU, G/F, Fr., Freiburg, Germany
Nazli Senol, NU, F/G, Fr., Mersin, Turkey
Alice Jamen, OSU, C/F, Fr., Cameroon, Africa
Romana Vynuchalova, PSU, F/C, Fr., Bratislava, Slovakia
Natasha Bogdanova, PUR, F, Fr., Toronto, Ontario
Aya Traore, PUR, F, Jr., Dakar, Senegal

Big Ten Continues to Boast FAN-tastic Figures
The Big Ten is looking to continue its dominance in national attendance this season, as last year's total of 778,125 was a Conference record and ranked second nationally (Big 12).  Over the 2003-04 season, an average of 5,085 fans -- also a Conference record -- attended Big Ten games.  The Big Ten has led the nation in attendance seven of the last 12 years, most recently in 1999.  In all games this year, Big Ten teams have played in front of more than 262,000 fans.

Three League Schools Drastically Improve Attendance
Purdue, Penn State and Minnesota ranked in the top five in the nation for increased attendance last season.  Purdue (2nd) averaged 10,105 fans per game -- an increase of 3,051 per game.  Penn State (4th) took in 9,670 (+2,899) last year, while Minnesota (5th) improved 1,903 to 9,703.

A Tough Act To Follow...
This year marks the 23rd 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.  Last season, the Big Ten produced its fourth Final Four representative (Minnesota) in six years and captured 11 wins in the 2004 NCAA Championship, marking the League's all-time best win total in the Tournament.