NORMAL -- A somewhat leisurely December has given way to a hectic week for the Illinois State women's basketball team.
"The players will love it because they don't have to practice a lot," said ISU coach Stephanie Glance. "And we've been practicing a lot."
After playing just twice over the past 18 days, the Redbirds begin a stretch of four games in seven days Tuesday with a 7:05 p.m. nonconference contest against Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Redbird Arena.
"We like to play games more than practice," senior forward Hannah Spanich said. "Games are the fun part."
ISU (6-3) also is home for its first two Missouri Valley Conference games Thursday against Bradley at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday against Northern Iowa at 2:05 p.m. before closing its regular season nonconference schedule at Northern Illinois in a 7:05 p.m. contest on Monday.
"Practice, play. Practice, play. You can get into a rhythm, a good routine with that," said Glance. "We're hoping that will happen this week with us.
"We have a lot of confidence in what we can do in this stretch. We feel like we're in pretty good shape mentally and physically. This is a tough group. We're not counting on that (fatigue) to be much of a factor."
Glance pointed to defense as a constant emphasis the rest of the season.
"We have to shore up everything with our defense," Spanich said. "We're pretty solid in every other category."
The Redbirds received a detailed scouting report on 3-7 Wisconsin-Milwaukee from assistant coach Sheila Roux, who spent the past four seasons as a Panthers' assistant.
"It was so lengthy, I thought she had done a dissertation," joked Glance. "Of course, it's an advantage to have somebody who was on that staff and knows those players so well. She did a great job with the scouting."
Milwaukee has lost five straight games and is led by the 15.6 points and 7.7 rebounds of 6-foot senior Lindsay Laur. Freshman guard Angela Rodriguez adds 12.7 points, while 6-4 freshman Courtney Lindfors chips in 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per outing.
The Panthers are second nationally in free throw shooting at 82.4 percent. Laur is 39 of 41 (95.1 percent).
Ticket special: Ticket prices for all three women's home games this week have been reduced to $3. All seating is general admission.