As Illinois State women’s basketball coach awaits the return of Simone Goods from a foot injury, Kristen Gillespie has settled on a seven-player rotation.
And that’s the way it’s going to stay for the time being as ISU prepares to meet Milwaukee in a 7 p.m. nonconference game Thursday at the Klotsche Center in Milwaukee, Wis.
Gillespie has been starting senior Hannah Green and sophomore Megan Talbot in the post with juniors Viria Livingston and Katrina Beck and freshman Paige Saylor at guard. Junior forward Millie Stevens and sophomore guard Frannie Corrigan come off the bench.
“We’re still working with the other healthy players,” said Gillespie, who has used only those seven the past three games. “We just don’t think they’re quite ready offensively, defensively or a combination. We’re trying to get them better every day so eventually we could go a little deeper on our bench.”
The ISU coach expects Goods, who had 31 points and 19 rebounds in the first two Redbird games, to miss at least three more games while recovering from a foot injury.
“The best case scenario is the California trip,” Gillespie said of a tournament at Long Beach State on Dec. 20-21. “She’s getting out of her boot. Now it’s a progression of reintroducing her to physical activity, jogging and shooting. She has to be able to sprint and move laterally. It’s a whole progression.”
The Redbirds are 3-3 and continue to lean heavily on a defense that ranks fifth nationally in opponent shooting percentage (31.4) and ninth in points allowed (52.2).
“I love what we’re doing defensively,” said Gillespie. “We’re trying to play with a little bit of grit and toughness.”
Gillespie expects Green, ISU’s top active scorer (12.3) and rebounder (7.3), to play Thursday. Green hasn’t practiced this week after receiving a treatment on her troublesome back.
Milwaukee (5-2) defeated the Redbirds, 68-60, last December at Redbird Arena.
“They are led by two post players. Their offense runs through them,” Gillespie said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for our post players. Frannie may have to play a little post. We don’t have the luxury of getting into foul trouble.”
The Panthers’ top scorers and rebounders are 6-2 senior Steph Kostowicz (17.3 points, 8.1 rebounds) and 6-0 senior Jenny Lindner (14.3, 7.0).
Newland sets record: In just the second game of her senior season, ISU recruit Kayel Newland set the Liberty (Mo.) High School record for career 3-pointers.
Newland’s record-setting 3-pointer was the 151st of her career.