The Indiana State women’s basketball team opens up the regular season on the road against the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kansas Thursday at 8 p.m. On Sunday, the team will travel to Eastern Illinois to play the Panthers in Charleston, Illinois at 3 p.m. Last season, the Sycamores finished with an 11-19 overall record.
ISU has made major roster changes this season as there are no returning players from the previous season. There are six transfers along with eight freshmen on the Sycamore roster this season. ISU Head Coach Vicki Hall addressed the chemistry of her team, none of whom have played together before.
“Our chemistry is what we create. So far, it’s been pretty good,” said Hall, “We have to continue to work on it. We’ve got to continue to be more mature, and grow every day.”
The Kansas Jayhawks are coming off a disappointing season. They had a 13-18 overall record with a 2-16 conference record. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 1985. The Jayhawks won that game 106-56. Similar to the Sycamores, the Jayhawks will be welcoming seven new players. Six-foot-five junior center Bailey Helgren will be one of two starters returning to the team. Helgren played well last season, playing in 31 games and starting 29 and averaged 5.8 rebounds. During two exhibition games against Pittsburg State and Emporia State, Helgren produced a total of 25 points and 17 rebounds.
On Sunday, ISU will travel to Eastern Illinois to take on the Panthers. They ended last season with an 11-18 overall record, and a 5-13 conference record. However, the Panthers won their season opener on Tuesday by a score of 88-66 at home against Lindenwood. Eastern Illinois found success at home last season with a solid 9-5 record, and are hoping to continue that trend to begin the season. EIU sophomore guard Jordyn Hughes led the team with 24 points as four Panthers players scored in double-digits.
ISU has been practicing multiple times a week to prepare for the regular season. When asked if there were any areas that the team was emphasizing, Coach Hall explained, “Defense in general, our transition defense we’ll always be working on. Something that’s very hard in Division I basketball.”
The Sycamores will be spending most of their time on the road — ISU’s first home game is Dec. 3 against Marshall — to begin their season as the Hulman Center is still under renovation. Hall has set some goals for the team prior to their season opener.
“Just to get better every single day, every day is a new day,” said Hall. “We need to win the day, and we need to continue to get better. It’s going to be the key for our entire year. We’re young, and every step we make is a big one.”