I got a chance to catch the Illinois women's basketball team's home-opening win against Siena today. Behind a fast-paced offense and an impressive 18 steals on the day, the Illini downed the Saints, 85 to 53.
There is no doubting the Illini are for real this season. After blowing a 16-point lead in the final six minutes of the season-opening loss to perennial NCAA qualifier Temple, the Illini picked up their first win of the season with an efficient offense not seen in Champaign for a long time.
Never having scored more than 66 points in a game last season, the offense has churned out 160 points in the first two games. Senior center Jenna Smith posted another double, putting in 10 points to go along with her 10 rebounds.
The Illini's two leading scorers were the two freshman that were in the starting lineup, forward Karisma Penn (18) and guard Adrienne Godbold (14). Missing was freshman forward Destiny Williams, who didn't dress to play due to what head coach Jolette Law would only describe as "a coach's decision."
My sources tell me she has had a sour attitude on and off the court during her short time here in Champaign so far, and judging from how Law has run the program over the last few years, it makes sense that that sort of attitude won't fly. With the senior play and leadership of Smith and Lacey Simpson, the Illini won't need Williams to contribute too much this season, although there is no doubt that the Illini will value the former McDonalds' All-American for the future.