NORMAL -- A little reassuring among teammates is leading to big results for the Illinois State women's basketball team.
"At one time, Emily (Hanley) didn't believe she was a great rebounder," Redbird senior Kenyatta Shelton said. "I looked at her like she was crazy because she's an awesome rebounder."
"And one time Yatti didn't believe she was a great scorer," interjected ISU coach Stephanie Glance. "And Emily looked at Yatti like she was crazy. They are a pretty good duo."
The early season play of Hanley and Shelton, including a combined 46 points and 35 rebounds in last Saturday's victory over Illinois-Chicago, has the Redbirds feeling better about their interior game entering Thursday's 7:05 p.m. nonconference contest against Ball State at Redbird Arena.
Hanley's 24 points and 13 rebounds against UIC were both career highs as were Shelton's 22 points and 22 rebounds, the most by a Redbird since 1978.
"Em and I work well together," Shelton said. "And we work really hard."
Shelton appears to be rounding into form after missing the entire 2009-10 season while recovering from knee surgery.
"I've gotten more comfortable," she said. "Offense is about rhythm. I think I've found that rhythm."
Glance believes Shelton is beginning to understand how best to utilize her considerable talents.
"She's so quick and explosive. She can rise up and shoot over anybody," said the ISU coach. "She needs to use that athleticism and ability and take a good on-balance shot, which she is doing."
Glance, whose team has a 4-2 record, is targeting defensive improvement this week after giving up 186 points in the last two games.
"We've got to be able to defend dribble penetration," she said. "We're not fundamentally doing what we need to do to guard the ball. Dribble penetration is exposing our defense whether we're in zone or man."
Ball State is 4-3 and led in scoring (15.4) and rebounding (11.0) by 6-foot-1 senior Emily Maggert. Ty'Ronda Benning, a 5-6 senior, adds 10.1 points and 6-2 junior Suzanne Grossnickle 9.1.
"They have good post play and their posts shoot threes," said Glance. "They have a good balance of people being able to penetrate from the guard spots and hit some threes consistently."
Ball State at Illinois State
Time: 7 p.m.
Broadcast: WJBC-AM (1230), WJBC-FM (93.7)