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Purdue vs. UIC Preview

A scrappy team from Chicago comes to Mackey Arena this Thursday.

At first I was thinking who the heck is UIC?  It is the University of Illinois Chicago. The Flames.  A large campus with over 29,000 students. They play in the Horizon League, which has been dominated by Wisconsin Green Bay for quite a few years now.  They are coached by Regina Miller, and finished last season with a record of 16-14.

However we better not sleep on this team.  Maybe they don't get the recruits like Power 5 conference teams, but it is well known that the greater Chicago area puts out a lot of quality players.

The first thing to notice about UIC is 6-3 Forward Redshirt Senior Ruvanna Campbell.  Last year's Horizon League defensive player of the year, and this season's preseason conference player of the year.  You have to respect a player who averages 17 points and 14 rebounds a game, even if it is in the Horizon League.  One game last year she pulled down 24 rebounds.  Their other impact player is Senior Guard Terri Bender.  This team has 15 players and plays hard and fast, so our team strategy of rebound and run out is going to get a dose of its own medicine.

Our Lady Boilers better come to play against a deep and athletic team.  They started the season with 2 exhibition wins and 2 season wins.  The Flames play a hawking defense, forcing lots of turnovers.  But they also do a poor job of limiting their own turnovers, so we should be able to hold our own on that aspect of the game. Wilson and Morrissette both have very good assist to turnover ratios, which they had once again against JSU.  Our defense, other than some lapses on the perimeter, did a commendable job last night against a surprisingly scrappy, well-coached, and undermanned Jacksonville State team.  Not only did we have a lot of blocked shots and steals, but we also saw a lot of deflections and altered shots that don't show up in the stats.  The Flames probably rarely play against as good of a defense as Purdue has.  UIC is a good rebounding team, with some serious height in the post.  Five players either 6-2 or taller.  They also have depth at the guard position.  They shot only 1-16 on three pointers in their last game, so even our Boilers should be able to out-shoot them from the outside.

Our biggest challenge will most likely be in the post.  We all know this is a rebuilding year, and a season of playing post by committee.  Dominique McBryde will only continue to just get better and better.  But she is just getting started as a true freshman adjusting to the speed of the college game.  Torrie Thornton put in perhaps her best game as a Boiler, finally being injury free for the start of her senior year.  Bridget Perry will need to get in the post and fight, which she already does.  Keisler, Horrocks, and Moore are still works in progress, and this game will give them something to deal with.  We are going to have to play Ruvanna Campbell by committee.

Despite the potential match-up challenges this opponent will bring to Mackey, I still feel that Purdue will pull out the win.  Our team chemistry is excellent and very unselfish.  We will need another strong game rebounding, and could really use better perimeter shooting. We have a couple of match-up problems of our own for our opponents, namely Perry and Keys.

Prediction: A defensive battle. Purdue 58 - UIC 51