Illinois State women's basketball coach Stephanie Glance addressed the media during a news conference Friday. (Photo By Paul Morello/WJBC)
By Paul Morello
NORMAL - After a second-round WNIT exit last season, the Redbird women's basketball team is looking to ride its depth to the postseason this year.
Coach Stephanie Glance's team returns four starters and six others from last year's squad.
"There's not as much separation in the top five, six or seven compared to the rest of the team," Glance said. "There's very little separation right now, which is excellent. That's what you always shoot for as a coach."
Starters returning include Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year Jamie Russell, Alexis Jenkins, Chloe Nelson, and Candace Sykes. Russell was second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.1 points per game last season while Sykes led the team in three-point field goals.
"I personally just want to lay it all on the line," Russell said. "I want to work towards a championship."
The Redbirds have four new faces this year, all freshman except sophomore transfer forward Janae Smith, who hopes to be in the mix down low.
"Hopefully I can come in and be the big post player that we need on the floor," she said. "Everybody else is doing great, so I feel like I'm going to fit right in and do well with everyone else."
Also joining Illinois State this year will be Octavia Crump, Alexis Foley and Stekara Hall.
The Redbirds will be without two prominent pieces from last year's team. Illinois State lost last year's leading scorer Katie Broadway to graduation. Marley Hall, who started 31 games and was the team's third-leading scorer, decided not to return to ISU this year.
Despite the losses, Glance doesn't expect a dip in scoring.
"Collectively, as a unit, we feel very good about our potential and the number of different ways we can score," she said.
The Redbirds open the 2012-13 season with an exhibition game at home against Wisconsin-Parkside on Nov. 1, before opening the regular season Nov. 9 in the preseason WNIT against Morehead State.
ISU opens conference play Jan. 4 at home against Northern Iowa.
Paul Morello can be reached at email@example.com.