Women’s basketball announces 2008-09 schedule

By Gus Bode

The SIU women’s basketball team announced its schedule for the 2008-09 season Tuesday.

The schedule features seven out-of-conference match-ups and is highlighted by games against Midwest rivals and a trip to the Bahama Islands.

SIU will begin its season with two tough home games against Saint Louis and Arkansas State, then doesn’t return home for more than a month because its non-conference schedule calls for five consecutive road games.

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“Our non-conference season is really one that we’ve worked on to get a balance between home and away contests,” said Dana Eikenberg, women’s head basketball coach.

The Salukis’ non-conference schedule allows the team to renew some of its regional rivalries. SIU opens the regular season Nov. 14 against Saint Louis, which defeated the Salukis, 80-73, at the SIU Arena two seasons ago.

The schedule also includes a pair of December trips to Chicago to face DePaul University, Dec. 5, and Chicago State, Dec. 16. Eikenberg said playing in the Chicagoland area is important, as to identify it as a place where SIU can expand its recruiting ties.

“When I got here, they (recruits) were a little further west,” Eikenberg said. “Now they’ve migrated a little bit north and south.”

The match-up against DePaul will put Eikenberg against DePaul coaching icon Doug Bruno, who will enter his 23rd season as the head coach of the Blue Demons. Bruno has notched 387 wins since 1988 and constantly has his teams among the top 25 in the country. Eikenberg said she would be shocked if Bruno’s bunch is not in the preseason top 25.

But the highlight of the Salukis’ season might be the team’s trip to the Bahamas to participate in the Junkanoo Jam Tournament Nov. 28-29. SIU opens the tournament against Southeastern Conference powerhouse the University of Florida, and will follow up against either Hofstra University or Arizona State.

Eikenberg said the Junkanoo Jam is an established and prestigious tournament that will allow the team to play high profile teams.

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“I think Florida is one of those teams that is looking to take the next step up in the (Southeastern Conference),” she said. “I think we could be one of those teams that they may not pay attention to and we could sneak it away from them.”

The tournament also allows for the team to gain experience playing on a neutral site. Eikenberg said playing in a neutral site should help prepare the team for a potential match-up in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, which takes place at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.

“Florida is going to be big, strong and aggressive, that is just what you get when playing against the SEC, but we will have nothing to lose in that tournament,” Eikenberg said. “Anyway you cut it, all of those teams are playoff teams and it should be a great challenge for us.”

Luis C. Medina can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 269 or [email protected]

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