Illinois Womens Basketball Releases 2004-05 Schedule, Huskies
Host Notre Dame, DePaul
DeKALB, IL -- Preparation for another difficult road through the
Mid-American Conference comes with early challenges and head coach
Carol Hammerle has put together another challenging slate for the
Huskies in her seventh season. Year in and year out, the Huskies
have squared off against a number of the nations top programs.
This season, Hammerle features another tough non-conference gauntlet
for her young squad, which includes games against five programs
that appeared in the National Collegiate Athletics Association Tournament
in 2004 and two others that participated in the National Invitational
There are no weak teams in the Mid-American Conference and
in order to get prepared for the conference schedule, you have to
play the best teams during the non-conference season, Hammerle
said. Its going to be a challenge, but it will be a
challenge that will benefit us down the road immensely. You never
know how you will stack up against the best team unless you play
them and thats what weve tried to do here at Northern
The 2004-05 campaign gets off to a quick start as NIU opens with
a Nov. 20 contest against the Missouri Tigers in the opening round
of the KCRG-TV 9 Hawkeye Challenge (Nov. 20-21). Seventh in the
Big 12 Conference a season ago, Cindy Steins Tigers finished
17-13 overall and earned a No. 11 seed in the Midwest Regional where
they fell to No. 6 Stanford in the opening round. The Huskies could
continue their NCAA feast a day later when they play either the
host Iowa Hawkeyes or Southern Illinois Salukis. Like Mizzou, Iowa
earned an at-large slot in the Big Dance by tying for
fourth in the Big Ten Conference (10-6). Southern Illinois is coming
off a 3-24 campaign, but anticipation is high with the hiring of
new head coach Dana Eikenberg. Formerly the head coach at the University
of Missouri-Kansas City, Eikenberg successfully rebuilt a Kangaroo
program before accepting the job in Carbondale, IL.
I feel we have a very challenging start to the season,
Hammerle said. To open the season against a quality opponent
like Missouri and then to have a game against Iowa or Southern Illinois
will be great.
Life away from the Convocation Center continues as the Huskies travel
to Cedar Falls, IA, for a Nov. 26 game against Northern Iowa and
then to Chicago for a Dec. 1 contest at Loyola University Chicago.
The UNI Panthers finished the 2003-04 campaign with a 12-17 overall
record but advanced to the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference
Tournament after finishing sixth in the final regular-season standings.
Loyola finished with a nearly identical 11-17 mark last season,
which included a 77-60 loss to the Huskies at the Convo on Nov.
After playing four consecutive games away from DeKalb to open the
season, NIU will finally open its home schedule on Dec. 4 against
South Dakota State. A perennial power at the NCAA Division II level,
the Jackrabbits advanced to the Elite Eight last season with a 26-7
overall record and claimed the Division II national title in 2002-03.
Owners of three consecutive NCAA Regional championships, the Jackrabbits
sport a gaudy 86-19 record over the last three seasons.
NIU returns to the road for its 33rd meeting with in-state rival
Western Illinois. Although the Huskies own a 20-13 series lead with
the Westerwinds, WIU did manage to steal a 61-56 win away from the
Huskies in DeKalb last season on Nov. 29, 2003.
NIUs third NCAA opponent was able to come away with a win
in last seasons Big Dance. After visiting the
Convocation Center on Jan. 3, 2004, the DePaul Blue Demons will
make their second trip to DeKalb within a year as they square off
with NIU on Dec. 15. A Wednesday evening affair with the Conference-USA
member should supply plenty of excitement, as DePaul finished the
2003-04 season with a 23-7 overall record and a berth into the round
of 32 at the NCAA Tournament. A No. 9 seed entering the Midwest
Regional, DePaul hammered No. 8 George Washington 83-46, before
falling to national runner-up Tennessee in the second round.
Its great to get DePaul back in the Convocation Center,
Hammerle said. The home court advantage is such a powerful
thing and anytime you play a quality opponent, you would like it
to be in your own arena.
NIUs final road trip of the non-conference season takes it
down the Mississippi River to St. Louis, MO, for a contest against
the Saint Louis University Billikens. Just the second all-time meeting
between the two programs, NIU won the initial meeting last season
by a 67-61 margin at the Convocation Center on Dec. 18, 2003.
After playing 6-of-8 non-league games away from DeKalb, NIU wraps
up its early slate with home games against Texas-El Paso and Notre
Dame. Similar to its series with Saint Louis, the Huskies will be
facing UTEP for just the second time in school history, with the
only other meeting coming on Dec. 30, 2003, in El Paso, TX, a 62-59
win for Northern Illinois. One of the more impressive road wins
for Hammerles club, the Miners finished with a 16-13 overall
record and claimed fourth place in the final Western Athletic Conference
The final regular-season matchup should spark plenty of interest
throughout the state as the Huskies host national power and former
Midwestern Collegiate Conference rival Notre Dame on Dec. 30. The
fourth Northern Illinois opponent to participate in the 2004 NCAA
Tournament, the Fighting Irish advanced to the Sweet 16
as a No. 5 seed and finished the year with a 21-11 overall mark.
The 15th meeting between the Huskies and Irish, ND holds an 8-6
series lead, with the last meeting coming on March 10, 1995, an
87-64 win for NIU in the championship game of the Midwestern Collegiate
The great thing about college basketball is that anything
can happen, Hammerle said. When I was at Wisconsin-Green
Bay, we played Georgia and they were ranked No. 4 in the country.
People around the country gave us little chance to beat them. We
beat them by 20 points and they dropped down to No. 6 in the standings.
You have to play the game and our kids will come out ready to play.
Following non-conference action, the Huskies will embark on another
challenging trip through the Mid-American Conference. Northern Illinois
opens the MAC schedule with back-to-back road games at Eastern Michigan
(Jan. 8) and Toledo (Jan. 11) and will travel to Ball State (Jan.
19), Central Michigan (Jan. 29), Kent State (Feb. 9), Ohio (Feb.
19) and Buffalo (Feb. 26) throughout the regular-season.
NIU also boasts a number of outstanding contests in the Convocation
Center as the Huskies host Marshall (Jan. 15), Akron (Jan. 22),
Eastern Michigan (Jan. 26), Ball State (Feb. 5), Miami, OH, (Feb.
12), Toledo (Feb. 16), Western Michigan (Feb. 22) and Bowling Green
Like I said, there are no weak teams in the Mid-American Conference,
Hammerle said. We have always used the non-conference season
to prepare us for the MAC schedule and I feel like we have put together
a schedule that will help us do that again this season. Night in
and night out games are up for grabs in the league and the teams
that are used to playing in tough environments and under strenuous
circumstances are usually the ones better able to come away with
MAC regular-season finale against Bowling Green on March 1, Hammerle
and the Huskies will take part in the annual Mid-American Conference
Tournament. This years tournament runs from March 5-12, with
first-round games being held at on-campus sites on March 5, before
moving to the Gund Arena in Cleveland March 9-12.