NORMAL — When the Illinois State women’s basketball team’s top two scorers spend much of practice standing on the sideline, it does not mean Coach Kristen Gillespie isn't keeping them busy.
In fact, Gillespie has been busier than she would prefer balancing practice time with preparation for Friday’s 7 p.m. game against Missouri State at Redbird Arena because of a slew of injuries.
“There’s never a dull moment with this crew,” said Gillespie, who was forced to use 5-foot-11 sophomore Frannie Corrigan as a post player this week in practice. “I don’t think Missouri State really feels bad for us. We’ve just got to figure out a way to get back to believing in what we’re doing.”
The Redbirds have started 0-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference while dipping to 6-8 overall. A rugged nonconference schedule has Missouri State at a deceiving 7-8 with a 3-1 MVC mark.
“We’re all going to be bumped up at this point of the season anyway. We’ve been playing a lot of minutes,” said junior guard Katrina Beck, who plays with her sore right wrist in a wrap. “We just work past it and do what we can do.”
The most pressing issues at the moment (and likely the rest of the season) are senior forward Hannah Green and junior center Simone Goods. Both are nursing foot injuries known as stress reactions that the Redbirds hope do not become stress fractures. Green also battles a sore back.
Goods averages 15.1 points and 8.4 rebounds, while Green contributes 13.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
“Hannah was able to go 10 minutes and Simone was able to go 20 minutes,” Gillespie said of Thursday’s practice. “We didn’t have them Tuesday or Wednesday, and Meg (Talbot) had the flu (Wednesday).”
Talbot is ISU’s No. 3 scorer and No. 2 rebounder and returned to practice Thursday.
“We trust our doctors and we trust (trainer) Racquel (Cabrera),” said Gillespie. “She knows for us to have a chance for success those two (Green and Goods) have to play in games. But those kids also need reps offensively and defensively. So it’s that fine line.“
Add to those ailments the fact forward Millie Stevens is out with a shoulder injury, and sophomore Morgan VanHyfte (knee) has yet to play this season. Also, sophomore Amaria Allen left practice Thursday with a cut above her eye that will likely require stitches.
“They are saving their bodies,” Beck said of the relative lack of participation of Goods and Green. “But if they’re mentally locked in and still focused walking through the sets, I think it will be fine.”
Meanwhile, the Redbirds are trying to shed a shooting slump that has ISU at a combined 29 percent from the field the past three games.
“We’ve been getting off to slow starts. It starts on the defensive end,” said Gillespie. “If we’re not scoring, it can be 6-2 (deficit) but it can’t be 15-4. If we’re starting slow, we have to be so darn good on defense.”
Missouri State’s top players are 5-10 senior Liza Fruendt (15.3 points per game) and 6-2 sophomore Alexa Willard (11.8).
“They are multiple threat players who can shoot the three, penetrate and post you up because they are bigger guards,” said Gillespie. “We have to guard the 3-point line. In their losses, they don’t shoot the ball well from three. We didn’t do a great job of (defending) that last weekend.”
All-star nominees: ISU recruits Lexy Koudelka of Nevada, Iowa, Ally Gietzel of Fond du Lac, Wis., Kayel Newland of Liberty, Mo., and Mary Crompton of Iowa City have all been nominated for consideration for the McDonald’s All-American game.