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PURDUE WOMENS BASKETBALL:
2009-10 Big Ten Non-Conference Analysis: Part IV
Author: Jimmy D
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
It’s that time of year to take a tour of the 2009-10 non-conference schedules for each Big Ten women’s basketball team.
This final installment includes previews of Penn State and Indiana.
PENN STATE LADY LIONS (121)
2009-10 marks the return of the Tyra Grant Show at State College, PA. Grant, a preseason Wooden Award candidate and preseason All-Big Ten team member is also among the 30 national candidates for the women's basketball Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The award honors student-athletes who excel on and off the court and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - classroom, character, community and competition. The high scorer in 25 out of their 29 games last year, Grant, an All Big 10 first team selection in 2008-09, is the best money player for the Lady Lions since Kelly Mazzante, averaging almost 20 ppg last year. Put her on the court and just watch. She will shoot the ball. And she can score without having five screens set for her on every play.
Coach Coquese Washington, in her second season as head coach, is making it very clear that this is no longer Renee Portland’s program – by ratcheting down their non-conference schedule. There are two high profile games: Georgia Tech (35), as part of the Big 10/ACC Challenge and a rematch with a Shavonte Zellous-less Pittsburgh team. Last year, the Lady Lions lost at Pittsburg (16) 80-59. It will be interesting to see how this mid-December game at the Bryce Jordan Center plays out. The next level of competition finds the Lady Lions with a home opener against Drexler (61). They have a rematch with the South Carolina Gamecocks (115) and their second year Coach Dawn Staley, this time in Columbus, S.C. Penn State won at home last year to open the season, 56-42. Also on tap, a game at home against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (66). Within a seven day span in mid-December, the Golden Grizzlies will play Purdue, Illinois and Penn State. However the dust settles, there may be some motivational locker room comparisons to be made here. This gives the Lady Lions five teams on their schedule that had better RPIs last year. Penn State fills out the remainder of their non-conference schedule with NJIT (327), Buffalo (252), Holy Cross (185) if they defeat Buffalo, Maine (323) if they don’t, Bucknell (180) and Monmouth (157). One just gets the feeling that a little of the swagger has left Happy Valley.
Other returning starters from last year’s team include 6’-2” F Julia Trogele and her team leading 177 rebounds and 6’-3” F/C Janessa Wolff. Although she started in only six games last year, Wolff played in 28, averaging 6.8 ppg and grabbing a total of 158 rebounds. Gone are PG Brianna O’Rourke, F Mashea Williams and F/C Evelyn Lewis, who transferred to George Mason. G Megan Quinn will sit out the 2009-10 due to cumulative knee problems from ACL injuries in both knees. Although last year saw twelve players average eight minutes per game, the attention this year is on their highly regarded incoming freshmen class. Led by 6’-5” C Nikki Greene (44) out of Diboll, TX, and 5’-7” Ben Davis HS standout G Alex Bentley (47). Alex averaged 15.7 points, 2.6 assists 2.2 steals and, playing with 2010 Purdue recruit G Dee Dee Williams, led Ben Davis to the Indiana State Championship and a perfect 30-0 record in her senior year. Gizelle Studevent (64), a 5’-11” G, led The Bishop's School in La Jolla, CA to a 30-3 record and the San Diego City Championship her senior year, averaging 18.2 points and 4.1 rebounds as a senior and was selected as the 2009 California Division IV Player of the Year. Also on that team was Northwestern recruiting target Inga Orekhova, a 6’-3” perimeter forward from Austria (ala Natasha Bogdanova). Rounding out the class is Marissa Wolfe (142), a 6’-3” F from Ford City, PA. So be forewarned, whatever swagger they may have lost, may be coming back.
Non-Conference W/L prediction: 7-3, with losses to Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Pittsburgh. Big 10 non-conference SOS – 9.
INDIANA HOOSIERS (55)
News flash: Kim Roberson will not be on the 2009-10 Indiana roster, as G Jamie Braun is the lone senior. Two ACC rivals, Big 10/ACC Challenge foe Florida State (12) and Virginia (19) highlight the Hoosiers non-conference schedule. I’m not sure how an Indiana team that tied for fifth place in the Big 10 standings last year with an 11-7 conference record, ended up against Florida State, a team that tied with Maryland for the top spot in the ACC, at 12-2 in conference play. But that’s what the schedule says. As for Virginia, the Hoosiers get to play the Cavaliers in the first round of the Junkanoo Jam, and in Round 2 either South Dakota State or Charlotte. I guess that is the price you pay for spending Thanksgiving in the Bahamas. Just ask the 2007-08 Boilers. Beyond that, things start dropping off a bit, with a rematch with Big 12 Missouri (113), a team the Hoosiers beat last year, 63-54, and Big East foe Cincinnati (97). Then it drops off a bit more with teams like Cleveland State (128) and St. Louis (137), and so on down the RPI spectrum. And maybe that is a good thing, as this young team will need some time to develop before conference play begins in earnest come January 2010.
The backcourt will again be anchored by Jamie Braun and junior Jori Davis. No problems there. The Hoosier frontline is a different story. Gone are G Kim Roberson, F/C Whitney Thomas and F Amber Jackson. Thomas is not completely gone, as, this year, she has the distinction of performing a reverse Brittany Dildine, being on the Indiana volleyball team. Between the three, the Hoosiers lose over half their point total per game, half their defensive steals and their top three rebounders. Where will Coach Legette-Jack find the players able to replace those kind of numbers? If healthy, sophomore forward Sasha Chaplin might be option No. 1. Last year her freshman season ended in mid-December due to a knee injury. She was averaging 4.9 points and 4.0 rebound for her 12 minutes on the court. The only other Hoosier to see an average of over 10 minutes off the bench was 5’-7” G Whitney Lindsay, averaging 1.9 points and 0.9 rebounds per game. It looks like Lindsay will be handling the point guard duties this year, allowing Braun to move over to the shooting guard position. Sophomore Lindsey Enterline suffered a pre-season injury and will not be available this year. That leaves sophomore Danisa Andujar, incoming freshmen Jasmine Davis (254), a 6’-2” F/C and 6’-1” F Aulani Sinclair (241) and JC transfer (from Vincennes) Hope Elam, another 6’-1” forward to man the trenches. Plus, walk-on tryouts were October 14th. We’ll just have to watch their non-conference games to see how successful Coach Legette-Jack is in reconstructing their frontline.
Non-Conference W/L prediction: 6-4, with two losses at the Junkanoo Jam, a loss to Florida State and an ‘upset’ loss to Missouri. Big 10 non-conference SOS – 8.