NORMAL — Illinois State senior Katrina Beck isn’t buying the “it’s only an exhibition game” approach for Sunday’s 1 p.m. women’s basketball opener against Division II Quincy at Redbird Arena.
“We’re definitely very excited,” Beck said. “It’s the start to everything. We all want to show our fans and everybody who doubts us we’re going to be good this year.”
The Redbirds are indeed expecting improvement from last season’s 14-16 record behind four returning starters and six promising newcomers.
“Our players are really excited to showcase some of that hard work they put in over the offseason,” said second-year coach Kristen Gillespie. “We have so many more options from an offensive standpoint.
"Our newcomers are trying to get up to speed on our expectations and our principles on the defensive end. We still want to hang our hat on how well we defend and rebound.”
Gillespie plans to start senior Simone Goods and junior Megan Talbot inside and will choose from Beck, Paige Saylor, Tete Maggett and Mary Crompton for her three starting guards.
The minutes of Crompton and Viria Livingston will be limited because of knee soreness. Freshman Kayel Newland is questionable with concussion-like symptoms, while freshman Anya Brooks will not dress because of continued issues with nose bleeds.
“We’ve moved into genetic testing. She’s working with a hematologist,” Gillespie said. “Every time her heart rate gets to a certain level, her nose starts bleeding. It’s one of those medical mysteries they are struggling to figure out.”
The Redbirds open the regular season Nov. 11 on the road against Southern Illinois Edwardsville.
Quincy had an 8-19 record last season and was picked for 13th in the preseason poll of the 14-team Great Lakes Valley Conference.
The Hawks’ coach is Jeni Garber, who was the Normal West High School coach from 1998-2000. A Metamora native, Garber also served as an assistant coach at Bradley.