Sept. 8, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State women's basketball schedule for 2008-09 is complete. The Redbirds will play at least 30 games in the regular season, the most in the history of the program, and will participate in two non-conference tournaments. At least 12 games will be played in Redbird Arena.
Head coach Robin Pingeton enters her sixth season at Illinois State. Pingeton and her staff put together a schedule that will challenge the Redbirds in non-conference play to properly prepare them to defend their Missouri Valley Conference title.
"I have confidence that our non-conference schedule will once again prepare us for conference play, which is the goal every year," Pingeton said. "We have established some great in-state rivalries and I know our players always look forward to playing against some of their former high school and AAU teammates. There are so many factors that go into scheduling that make it a real challenge. It is difficult to have schools from the bigger conferences come play us in Redbird Arena, which can be frustrating. We will play in a couple of tournaments early in the season so we can play against some of that great competition."
The non-conference schedule has Illinois State playing at least 12 games, including the two tournaments. The Redbirds open the season with their second appearance in the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Redbirds visit Tulane (Nov. 14) for a first round matchup, with the winner playing either Arizona State or Cleveland State (Nov. 16-19). The semifinals will be played Nov. 19-21 and the tournament final is set for Nov. 23. All of the games will be hosted by schools in the 16-team tournament, with sites and times to be determined after each round, and each school is guaranteed at least three games.
"Playing in the Preseason WNIT is a great opportunity for our program," said Pingeton. "They have changed the format recently so that we are guaranteed at least three games against some great competition that we wouldn't normally have the chance to play."
ISU's scheduled home-opener is Nov. 25 against Ball State. The Redbirds also have home dates with Eastern Michigan (Dec. 6) and Eastern Illinois (Dec. 29). There is the possibility of more games at Redbird Arena, depending on the WNIT.
The Redbirds have four road games around the Midwest against DePaul (Nov. 28), Western Illinois (Dec. 3), Green Bay (Dec. 13), and Northern Illinois (Dec. 15). ISU will also take part in the Orange County Clash at UC-Irvine before Christmas. The Redbirds will face Western Michigan in the opening round Dec. 21, with UC-Irvine battling UNC-Greensboro on the other side of the bracket. The final and consolation games are set for Dec. 22.
The Missouri Valley Conference portion of the ISU schedule begins on New Year's Day when the Redbirds host Creighton, followed by a visit from Drake (Jan. 3). ISU's first conference road game will be at Indiana State (Jan. 10) followed by a road swing at Wichita State (Jan. 17) and Missouri State (Jan. 19). The Redbirds' game against Missouri State will be their first in the new JQH Arena, which opens this year in place of the Hammons Student Center.
Home dates with Evansville (Jan. 22) and Southern Illinois (Jan. 24) and road games against Bradley (Jan. 30) and Northern Iowa (Feb. 1) close out the first half of the ISU Valley schedule. With Robertson Fieldhouse closed and Bradley's new arena under construction, the Peoria installment of the I-74 Rivalry will be played at Illinois Central College.
The second half of the conference slate starts out with three-straight home games against Indiana State (Feb. 7), Missouri State (Feb. 12) and Wichita State (Feb. 14). After that, the Redbirds have four of their final six games of the regular season on the road; three of which are against teams that finished in the top-four in the conference last season. The `Birds visit Southern Illinois (Feb. 19) and Evansville (Feb. 21) before closing out the home schedule against Bradley (Feb. 26) and Northern Iowa (March 1). Road dates with Drake (March 5) and Creighton (March 7) finish off the regular season.
For the second-consecutive year, the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo., will host the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The 2009 edition of the tournament will run from March 12-15 and the semifinals and final will be broadcast on FSN Midwest.
The Redbirds will host two exhibition games at Redbird Arena again this fall against Odyssey (Nov. 2) and Northwest Missouri State (Nov. 8).
Season tickets for the 2008-09 women's basketball season are available at the Redbird Arena Ticket Office, or online at GoRedbirds.com. For more information, contact the ticket office at (309) 438-8000.