Dec. 30, 2009
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GET TO KNOW HER
Sarah Schulze, Ohio State
Junior forward Sarah Schulze aspires to be a missionary after her playing days at Ohio State. With her strong Catholic faith, the comparative religious studies major from Anna, Ohio (where there are just two gas stations and two stop lights) never misses a Sunday church service -- even when the Buckeyes are on the road -- and has not missed a service since middle school. The Academic All-Big Ten honoree says a Rosary prayer before every game and would like to do missionary work in Africa or Haiti after graduation. Schulze is in her first year as a full-time starter this season and is averaging just under 10 points per game for the Buckeyes.
Let’s Get it Started
Northwestern and Ohio State have both opened the conference season 2-0 and will face each other on Thursday in Evanston, Ill. Both teams are riding six-game winning streaks, which is the Wildcats’ longest since the 1995-96 season. That year also marked the last time Northwestern opened the conference season 2-0. Indiana is also undefeated in conference play at 1-0, having won its lone Big Ten game, a 68-63 decision at Michigan State on Dec. 6.
Ohio State and Michigan State continue to boast national rankings, with the Buckeyes leading the conference at No. 6 in the AP and coaches’ polls. The Spartans come in at No. 16 in the AP top 25 and No. 24 in the coaches’ poll, while Michigan and Northwestern are receiving votes outside the top 25 in each list. Wisconsin is receiving votes outside the coaches’ poll.
Leader of the Pack
Illinois’ Jenna Smith recorded her 41st career double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds against Ohio State on Monday, making her the program’s all-time double-doubles leader. The double-double was her ninth of the season, which is the highest total in the Big Ten this year. Smith’s career total is second among active conference players, behind Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender, who has 44.
Ohio State head coach Jim Foster is one win away from No. 700 in his 32-year coaching career. At 699-273, Foster is the ninth-winningest active coach in the NCAA.
Illinois’ Jenna Smith and Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender continue to extend their impressive double-digit scoring streaks. With 10 points against Ohio State on Monday, Smith increased her streak to 50 consecutive games, which dates back to the 2007-08 season. Smith’s streak is the third-longest among active Division I players. Lavender tallied 20 points against Western Illinois before dropping 31 vs. Illinois on Monday, upping her streak to 81 games, which spans the entire length of her career and is the longest active streak in the nation. Penn State’s Tyra Grant holds a streak that dates back to last season, currently riding a 24-game double-digit scoring streak.
30 is the New 20
Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender put up 31 points against Illinois on Monday, marking her third 30-point performance of the season and the conference’s sixth. Last season, Big Ten players combined for seven 30-point games, and no player had as many as three, as Lavender and Penn State’s Tyra Grant both tallied two. Lavender now looks to become the first Big Ten player since Wisconsin’s Jolene Anderson in 2007-08 to post four 30-point performances in a season.
No Doubt About It
Of the 100 wins posted by Big Ten teams so far this season, 37 have come by 21 points or more. Ohio State leads the conference in blowout wins with 10, while Minnesota is next with five. Northwestern has four victories by 21 points or more, followed by Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin, who each have three. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Penn State have each won two games by that margin, while Iowa has posted one 21+-point victory. Overall, Big Ten teams are out-scoring opponents by an average of 10.1 points per game, led by Ohio State, who boasts an average margin of victory of +24.7. Northwestern (+11.5), Minnesota (+10.6) and Michigan (+10.2) also boast average margins of victories of in double-digits.
Several Big Ten players are approaching major career milestones, including Illinois’ Jenna Smith who needs just 41 rebounds to join the Big Ten’s 1,000 career rebounds club. Northwestern’s Amy Jaeschke needs just two blocks for 200 in her career, and Purdue’s FahKara Malone needs just six steals for 300 and needs 59 assists to join the conference’s 500 career assists club. Michigan State’s Allyssa DeHaan is poised to become the newest member of the Big Ten’s 1,500 career points club, needing just 37 points to reach the milestone. DeHaan is also just 34 blocks away from tying the all-time NCAA record of 480.
Neighborhood Watch Program
Six Big Ten players earned spots on the Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List. Illinois’ Jenna Smith, Michigan State’s Allyssa DeHaan, Northwestern’s Amy Jaeschke, Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis and Jantel Lavender and Penn State’s Tyra Grant are in contention for the Naismith Trophy, which is presented annually to college basketball’s Player of the Year.
Wooden is Watching
The Big Ten has five players on the 2009-10 John R. Wooden Award Women’s Preseason Top 30 List, leading all conferences. Candidates from the Big Ten are Illinois senior Jenna Smith, Michigan State senior Allyssa DeHaan, Ohio State junior Jantel Lavender and sophomore Samantha Prahalis and Penn State senior Tyra Grant. OSU is one of just four schools with multiple players on the list, and Prahalis is the only sophomore to make the cut.
Wade For Me
Illinois’ Jenna Smith, Michigan State’s Allyssa DeHaan and Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis were also on the 25-player 2009-10 preseason “Wade Watch” list for the State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year. With four selections, the Big Ten is tied with the ACC, Big East and Pac-10 for tops among all conferences. The Buckeyes are one of three schools with multiple players on the list, and Prahalis is one of just two sophomores to be named.
Illinois’ Jenna Smith, Michigan State’s Allyssa DeHaan and Penn State’s Tyra Grant are candidates for the 2009-10 Lowes Senior CLASS Award. Student-athletes eligible for the award must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition.
Set Your TiVo
Big Ten women’s basketball will once again experience vast national television coverage, with nearly 90 percent of home games set to be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, www.BigTenNetwork.com, ESPN2 or CBS Sports this season. In addition to its linear network package, www.BigTenNetwork.com will stream additional games that will be produced in HD-quality.
Back Home Again...
Big Ten women’s basketball will once again return to the city of Indianapolis and Conseco Fieldhouse for the 2010 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. The 2010 event marks the third of a five-year agreement that places both the men’s and women’s tournaments in the Circle City. This year’s tournament will be the ninth consecutive and 15th overall in Indianapolis and will be held on four consecutive days beginning Thursday, March 4. The championship game will be played Sunday, March 7.
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Big Ten women’s basketball will have its sights set on San Antonio, Texas, during the 2009-10 season as the 2010 NCAA Women’s Final Four will be held April 4 and 6 at the Alamodome. The conference has sent five teams to the past 11 Final Fours, including two in the last six seasons. The 2010 championship event will be hosted by the University of Texas at San Antonio.