NORMAL — One practice turned into two Saturday for the Illinois State women’s basketball team.
That was not in Coach Kristen Gillespie’s plans.
Yet with Missouri-Kansas City providing the opposition for a 2 p.m. nonconference game at Redbird Arena on Sunday, Gillespie shut down her first workout early at Horton Field House’s North Gym and told her team to return later for another attempt.
“We’re really trying to establish our culture. We have expectations in our program we are not going to lower,” Gillespie said. “When we don’t fulfill those basis expectations and standards, there are some consequences.
"We’re at a point where we’re really trying to make sure everyone knows what the non-negotiables are. That’s great effort and great communication and positive attitudes. That’s just the price of admission to practice.”
The 1-2 Redbirds will be without leading scorer and rebounder Simone Goods for the second straight game because of a foot injury. Gillespie is hopeful the 6-foot-2 junior will be available on a limited basis for a Thursday home game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
“We want to make sure we have a handle on it before we intro her back into activity,” said the ISU coach. “She’s still having a little bit of pain, so we don’t want to risk anything.”
Freshman point guard Paige Saylor will be playing Sunday and playing a lot. Saylor was on the court for all 40 minutes of ISU’s first two games before seeing “only” 33 minutes in a Nov. 22 loss at George Mason.
“I wasn’t meeting expectations that game. Honestly, I don’t think I deserved to play 40 minutes,” Saylor said. “I kind of got mentally down on myself that game. I’m trying to become more mentally tough. They say you can’t play like a freshman, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Gillespie said Saylor’s shortcoming did not involve effort.
“Some of the mental focus she had shown the first couple games wasn’t quite there,” said Gillespie. “Paige is smart enough and such a competitor, she knew. She literally had one bad day since she stepped on campus. Unfortunately, it was during a game.”
Redbird junior guard Katrina Beck, who has been battling a sore ankle, has returned to full practice recently.
“She’s so good defensively, we had to play her (in games),” Gillespie said. “It’s one of those things that will be nagging most of the year.”
Missouri-Kansas City is 0-4 and returns four starters from a 10-19 team. The Kangaroos are led by 5-9 senior Aries Washington at 16.0 points per game and 6-0 junior Kristen Moore at 14.5.
“They are 0-4 and fighting for a win. They play really hard. They try to make you play fast,” said Gillespie. “At home, against a 50-50 opponent, these are the games we must win. We want our kids to start believing we can do that, that we can win.”