Indiana Women's Basketball Season Preview
Oct. 29, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Power. Drive. Spirit. Those three words may perfectly describe the 2008-09 Indiana women's basketball team. From the power of Whitney Thomas and Amber Jackson, to the drive of Jamie Braun and Kim Roberson, to the spirit of Jori Davis - the Hoosiers not only bring those three elements to the table, but also a solid amount of experience. Under the direction of one of the most passionate coaches in women's college basketball in Felisha Legette-Jack, the Hoosiers are looking to continue to make waves not only in the Big Ten, but also nationally.
Thomas and Jackson return as the two seniors who will lead a front court that helped the Hoosiers not only dominate the glass, but also hold their own in the paint. Thomas, a 6-0 forward, led IU in rebounding last season with 8.7 boards per game and ranked among the top-three in the Big Ten. Her power under the basket not only helped her on the boards, but also acquire 12.2 points per game. She recorded 12 of her 22 career double-doubles during her junior campaign, including a 19-board outing at Cincinnati.
Thomas enters her final season as IU's All-America candidate, after earning All-Big Ten honors a year ago. She is also looking to make her mark in the record books. Thomas is 198 rebounds from 1,000 career boards, which would rank her second all-time behind leader Denise Jackson (1,273). She is also 132 points from joining Indiana's 1,000-point club.
Thomas could become only the second player in school history to accumulate 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in their career (Denise Jackson - 1,917 pts., 1,273 reb.).
Jackson, a 6-2 forward, led the Big Ten in field goal percentage, sinking 52.4 percent of her shots while averaging 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. The senior looks to maintain her status as one of the best scorers in the league while helping Thomas on the boards.
IU's back court will be led by 2007 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year and 2008 Second Team All-Big Ten honoree Jamie Braun. After being a staple off the bench for the Hoosiers as a freshman, Braun stepped into the role of point guard and quickly matured into a true leader for Indiana on the floor. Not only did her amazing range help boost her confidence, but her ability to drive to the basket made her an immediate threat against any opponent. Braun led the Hoosiers in scoring and ranked among the Big Ten leaders with 14.5 points per game. She also made an impact on the boards (6.1) and averaged 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals per contest.
Joining Braun is one the most tenacious defenders in the Big Ten in Kim Roberson. Roberson ranked third in the league and led IU with 2.3 steals per game. She tied the Hoosiers' single-game steals record when she came away with nine against Wake Forest on Nov. 22, 2007. Roberson's thieving efforts earned her Big Ten All-Defensive Team honors last season, and the Hoosiers will look to her quickness and tenacity to continue this year.
Every team has a spark plug off the bench or someone that can bring extra emotion in a game. The Hoosiers have Jori Davis. With her spirit and enthusiasm, Davis will be looked upon to bring her personality to the floor, as well as her talent in the paint and her short-range jumper. Despite missing 12 games as a freshman due to an injury, Davis made impacts in just about every minute she played on the court and was instrumental in IU's overtime upset of last year's Big Ten Co-Champ Ohio State. She averaged 6.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 21 games her rookie season, and was called on in a starting role seven times.
Legette-Jack will have a solid cast to look to on the bench with nine returning players and four of whom are sophomores. Joining Davis are four sophomore classmates who earned valuable time on the floor last season. Haylie Linn, another 3-point threat for the Hoosiers, returns after averaging 3.2 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. Joining Linn is Whitney Lindsay (1.5 ppg, 32 assists), Andrea McGuirt (1.4 ppg) and Lydia Serfling.
Joining IU's 10 returning players are a group of four freshmen who lack in age, not talent. With one hailing from the Hoosier State, IU's roster also features two players from Florida and only the second player in school history from the state of Texas.
Linsday Enterline, a 6-0 guard from Monroeville, Ind., continues the IU-Enterline tradition following in her older sister and former Hoosier point guard Leah's footsteps. Enterline excelled as a three-sport athlete at Heritage High School, but chose to extend her career in basketball. She averaged 19 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals and assists per game as a senior, and was an Indiana All-Star in 2008.
Joining Enterline among the Hoosier rookies are Danilsa Andujar and Sasha Chaplin, both of whom hail from the Sunshine State. Andujar, a 6-2 forward from Miramar, Fla., averaged 6.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game at Dillard High School. Also a member of the Dominican Junior National Team, Andujar helped Dillard win the County Big-8 title in 2007 and earned All-Broward Honorable Mention honors as a sophomore and junior.
Chaplin, a 6-3 forward from St. Petersburg Catholic, averaged 16.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 2.3 assists and two blocks per game as a senior. The 2008 St. Petersburg Times Female Basketball Player of the Year led SPC with a career total of 1,780 points and 1,382 rebounds.
Wrapping up the class of newcomers is Ashlee Mells from Grand Prairie, Texas. Mells, a 5-8 guard, registered 15 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game as a senior at South Grand Prairie. A McDonald's All-America nominee, Mells earned all-district honors as a senior and was named the 2007 District 7-5A Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
A solid team needs a schedule to match and the Hoosiers have just that this year. The 2008-09 schedule puts Indiana in front of a national audience at least 15 times between the Big Ten Network and live streaming on BigTenNetwork.com, and features the Hoosiers up against several opponents that experience the postseason in 2007-08.
IU opens the regular season against Ball State in Assembly Hall in the first round of the Preseason WNIT. The Hoosier's invitation to the preseason event marks the first since the 1998-99 season when IU went 2-2 with wins over Cincinnati (61-51) and Missouri State (63-60), before falling to Rutgers in the third round, 60-53. The Hoosiers then lost to Florida in the consolation game, 72-67.
This year's tournament format matches that of 2007 as each team is guaranteed to play three games. Teams that lose in the first two rounds will play consolation games on the second weekend, Nov. 21-23. The bracket also features Arizona State, Cleveland State, Illinois State, Lafayette, Liberty, Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Robert Morris, Tulane, UC Riverside, Virginia Commonwealth, Western Carolina and Xavier.
Indiana continues the non-conference slate when they travel to Columbia, Mo., to take on Missouri on Tuesday, Nov. 25. From the Show Me State, the Hoosiers will travel to Moraga, Calif., to play in the Saint Mary's Thanksgiving Classic. The two-day tournament (Nov. 28-29) features the tournament host, LaSalle and Radford.
On Friday, Dec. 5, the Hoosiers head to Coral Gables, Fla., to take on Miami in the second ACC/Big Ten Women's Basketball Challenge.
Following four road games, the Hoosiers return home on Tuesday, Dec. 9 to take on Butler in Assembly Hall. A rematch against NCAA Tournament perennial West Virginia in Morgantown (Dec. 13) wraps up the non-conference slate for Indiana.
This year's Big Ten slate features 18 games, seven of which put the Hoosiers on the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten boasts nine teams, including IU, that made a postseason trip in 2008. Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue made trips to the NCAA Tournament, while Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois joined the Hoosiers in the WNIT bracket.
Indiana opens the league slate at home against Northwestern (Dec. 20), before traveling to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Monday, Dec. 29. IU's first battle against Iowa will take place in Assembly Hall and will be aired on the Big Ten Network on Sunday, Jan. 4. The Hoosiers open up a two-game road stand that features contests at Minnesota (Jan. 8) and at Penn State (Jan. 11).
Indiana returns to Bloomington to take on Wisconsin on Thursday, Jan. 15, before meeting rival Purdue in Assembly Hall on Monday, Jan. 19. The Hoosiers battle with the Boilers will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network and will be the only meeting between the two teams. Following a trip to Ann Arbor to face Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 22, IU will head to Champaign to take on Illinois, also on the Big Ten Network on Sunday, Jan. 25. The Hoosiers close the month with Penn State at home on the Thursday, Jan. 29).
Four of the Hoosiers' seven league games in the month of February will be aired live on the Big Ten Network. IU opens it up at Ohio State on Sunday, Feb. 1 (BTN), and will follow that with a trip to Iowa City for second meeting with the Hawkeyes (Feb. 5). On Feb., 8, 12 and 16, Indiana will have three-straight contests broadcast on the Big Ten Network. First off, the Hoosiers face Illinois (Feb. 8) and Michigan State (Feb. 12) in Bloomington, before traveling to Madison to take on Wisconsin on Monday, Feb. 16. Following a trip to Northwestern on Thursday, Feb. 19, the Hoosiers will host Ohio State (Feb. 22) and Michigan (March 1) to close out the regular season.
Indiana will have a chance to have two additional games on TV when it hosts Ohio State and Michigan in its final two games of the regular season. The Ohio State match-up is listed as an ESPN2 wildcard game, while the Michigan contest is a Big Ten Network wildcard game.
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