Janae Smith leads ISU's women's team in scoring and rebounding. (Photo by B Corbin/WJBC)
By Bryan Bloodworth
Illinois State women's basketball team will be facing a deja vu experience Friday when it begins a two-game road swing at Wichita State.
A year ago when the Redbirds traveled to Wichita, the Shockers were sitting atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings with a 7-0 record.
When the teams meet at 7 o'clock Friday, the Shockers will be sitting atop the Valley standings with a 7-0 record. Both teams are 13-6 overall, while ISU is tied for third in the league with a 5-2 mark.
"The big thing for us is to focus on Wichita State's strengths and weaknesses, our strengths and to put all that together and have a great game on the road," said ISU coach Stephanie Glance. "We've been pretty good on the road this year. We've won some big games on the road.
"I've encouraged our team to build from that. We need to draw from that and put our best foot forward, but understand we've been in these situations before and can play really well on the road."
ISU super-sub Candace Sykes said the Redbirds need to maintain their focus on the road.
"You have to be more focused on the road because the other team's home crowd is there cheering," Sykes said. "We definitely have to build our energy and keep our momentum on the road."
Defense has been the key to Redbirds when they have been successful.
"We've shown we can play very well and are very effective when we really have our focus on the defensive end and rebounding," said Glance. "Our offense comes from our defense and that's when we're at our best."
Much like ISU, the Shockers rely on defense.
"They are very aggressive on the ball," said Glance. "They use their length and athleticism. They want to create a lot of turnovers, so we'll need to take care of the ball, defend penetration and keep them off the boards."
The Redbirds complete their road swing with a 2 p.m. game Sunday at Missouri State.
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org