Dec. 16, 2008
GET TO KNOW HER
Jenna Smith, Illinois
Jenna Smith's love of basketball stems from the encouragement of her father, Frank Smith, and he has continued to be his daughters' biggest fan despite being more than eight hours away from Champaign. Smith has a ritual of talking to her dad, a former high school and collegiate basketball star himself, before every game, where he gives her advice and helps her stay focused. Despite the distance between Illinois and their hometown of Bloomington, Minn., Smith's parents are constant fixtures at Illini games, logging more than 60,000 travel miles in Jenna's first two seasons to watch her play.
With a 67-48 win over Marquette last Saturday, Wisconsin picked up its 10th straight victory which is tied for the nation's longest active winning streak with Auburn, Florida and North Carolina. Ten consecutive wins also matches the second-highest mark in Badger history with the top mark of 15 games achieved by the 2001-2002 squad. Indiana touts the conference's second-longest active streak at six games, which is tied for 11th in the nation.
Big Ten women's basketball teams have played against 19 in-state opponents so far this season, producing a record of 13-6 in those games. Wisconsin fronts the conference, going 3-0 against teams from America's Dairyland, while Indiana and Iowa boast 2-0 marks versus in-state squads. Michigan and Minnesota are the only Big Ten teams that have yet to play a team from within its own borders.
Ann Arbor is Upset City
This past Wednesday, Michigan defeated No. 8/8 Notre Dame, 63-59, in overtime to claim the program's second overall win against a top-10 squad and first since Nov. 17, 2000, when U-M defeated No. 8 Louisiana Tech, 69-66. Earlier this season, the Wolverines downed No. 13/12 Vanderbilt, 50-42, giving the squad two wins against top-15 teams this year. The last time Michigan reached this mark was the 2001-2002 season. Notre Dame falls to the Wolverines for the first time since Dec. 2, 2001, and to a Big Ten school since Dec. 3, 2006.
Indiana closed out its non-conference schedule on a six-game winning streak, with five of those six contests coming away from Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten with five total wins either on the road or on a neutral court. Wisconsin is second in the conference with one road victory and three neutral-site triumphs. Overall, five Big Ten schools are at or above .500 away from home.
Let the Games Begin
The Big Ten intraconference season tips off on Saturday as Northwestern travels to Bloomington to take on a red-hot Indiana squad. This marks the second consecutive year that the Wildcats have participated in the Big Ten opener, as NU hosted Illinois on Dec. 27, 2007, to kick off last year's intraconference slate. Saturday's game will be broadcast live on BigTenNetwork.com.
Purdue's Danielle Campbell became the latest Big Ten player to record 500 career rebounds, as she grabbed 20 boards in two games last week. The Boilermaker center has 501 career rebounds and is sixth among active Big Ten players. Also over the weekend, Indiana's Whitney Thomas became the third active conference player with 200 career steals, swiping five last week to bump her collegiate total to 201. Purdue's Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton is the active leader in that category and is just three steals shy of becoming the 29th player and seventh Boilermaker in the Big Ten's 250 career steals club.
DeHaan Hosts Big Ten Block Party
Michigan State's Allyssa DeHaan tied her own school record for blocks in a singe game, swatting nine against Xavier on Sunday. The total is tied for the single-game high in all of NCAA Division I this season. The 6-9 center leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the nation with 3.7 blocks per game.
Avoiding the Sophomore Slump
Big Ten sophomores have avoided the "sophomore slump" throughout the non-conference season. Ohio State's Jantel Lavender currently leads the Big Ten in scoring (21.7 ppg) and rebounding (11.9 rpg), while Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke ranks fifth in scoring (16.2 ppg) and second on the glass (11.3 rpg). Rounding out the top 10 in those categories, Wisconsin's Alyssa Karel is 10th in points (13.9 ppg) and Iowa's Kachine Alexander is 10th in boards (7.1 rpg).
Climbing the RPI Ladder
According to RPIRatings.com, the Big Ten currently ranks third among all conferences with an RPI score of .5963. This rating is just .0132 back of the ACC in first and .0028 behind the Big 12 in second. Two Big Ten schools rank among the top 10 in RPI with Ohio State in fifth and Wisconsin in ninth.