The Redbirds will play their
opening-round game Nov. 12 at Notre Dame. The Irish were 21-11 last
year and defeated Missouri Valley Conference champion Southwest
Missouri State in overtime in a first-round NCAA contest. Notre Dame
is one of nine teams -- six in the NCAA, three in the NIT -- in this
year's Preseason WNIT, which played in postseason last March.
Missouri Valley Conference runner-up Creighton won the 2004
The winner of the ISU-Notre
Dame game plays the winner of Western Illinois (20-9 in 2004) at
Nebraska (18-12) on Nov. 14. Semifinals are Nov. 17, and the
championship will be either Nov. 20 or 21. The other four teams in
Illinois State's bracket are Duke (30-4), South Florida (14-15),
Middle Tennessee (24-8) and Davidson (16-12). All games are played
at campus sites.
Illinois State returns three
senior starters -- guard Jaci McCormack and forwards Katie Donovan
and Erin Keeney -- from a team that went from a 7-21 record in
2002-03 to 16-13 in 2003-04 under first-year head coach Robin
Pingeton. The Redbirds had the nation's most improved record among
the 40 NCAA Division I teams with new head coaches in 2003-04. They
also ranked No. 4 in the nation in 3-point field goals made per
game, with a school-record 220 for the season.
Pingeton says the Preseason
WNIT opportunity will help this year's team immensely.
"It is exciting for us to be
part of such a prestigious tournament," said Pingeton. "With an
early start to the schedule, we're a bit limited in our preseason
preparation time, but going against this caliber of team is going to
help us prepare for our tough non-conference and conference
[to top of second column in
With Illinois State playing
host to the 2005 State Farm-Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in
March, the Preseason WNIT makes the season start on a special note
"A lot of exciting things are
happening for women's basketball at Illinois State, and we are
appreciative of those opportunities," said Pingeton.
Illinois State's invitation
marks the 10th time in 11 seasons a Missouri Valley team has been
selected for the Preseason WNIT.
Besides Illinois State, only Southwest Missouri State (1994, 1998,
2003) has appeared more than once in the tournament.
2004 Preseason Women's NIT
First round -- Nov. 12
Illinois State (16-13) at Notre
Western Illinois (20-9) at
Davidson (16-12) at Duke (30-4)
South Florida (14-15) at Middle
Tennessee State (24-8)
Bowling Green (21-10) at Ohio
Boston University (19-11) at
St. Joseph's (22-11)
St. Mary's, Calif. (15-14) at
McNeese State (11-17) at Rice
Second round -- Nov. 14
Semifinals -- Nov. 17
Championship -- Nov. 20 or
State University news release]