The women’s Illinois basketball team is again seeing a number by their name.
There were multiple times last season when the Illini saw themselves ranked. This seemed unfathomable just a couple of years ago, but head coach Shauna Green has the Orange and Blue heading in the right direction.
After a 21-8 regular season and finishing 11-7 in Big Ten play, Illinois managed to win a Big Ten Tournament game and clinch a spot in the NCAA tournament. Everything mentioned in the previous sentence was greatly above expectations in 2022-23.
Now the Illini are poised to have another great season. The 2023-24 campaign might be even better than the 21-win season we saw last year. The rankings think we are going to be pretty good as well.
On Tuesday afternoon, the preseason AP Top 25 women’s poll was released. LSU is taking the top spot, as they have a juggernaut of a roster coming back. Scroll down a little further, and you will see Illinois checking in at No. 23 in the nation, two spots better than the men’s team.
Illinois basketball has a chance to move up in the AP Top 25 with a loaded roster returning
With a program like Illinois having such a drastic change year-over-year, one would think that the team was laced with seniors who have now departed. That isn’t the case at all.
Illinois finished the season 6-19 overall and 1-13 in the Big Ten in 2021-22. The 2022-23 campaign saw a jump to 21 wins overall and 11 victories in conference play. The scary part for the Big Ten and college basketball as a whole is the fact Illinois is running it back.
The Illini return at least 82% of the production in every statistical category from that 21-win team last season. Let that soak in for a minute. At least 82% is a ton of production coming back.
Among the talent returning are the top six scorers from the team last season. This group is led by Makira Cook, Genesis Bryant, Adalia McKenzie, and Kendall Bostic, all of whom averaged at least 10 points per game.
I can’t express enough how excited I am for the 2023-24 campaign. This women’s Illinois program was down in the dumps for such a long time and now Green has built a winner. Watch out for the Illini to make a run this March.