ISU AD Gary Friedman Resigns
May 13th, 2013 by Tim Van Duyne
NORMAL – Illinois State University has hired a new athletic director as its former AD stepped down today. Gary Friedman announced today he will resign effective June 30, just two years after taking the job.
ISU has appointed Larry Lyons as the next associate athletic director. Lyons agreed to a three-year term starting July 1.
Lyons has been at ISU for 26 years. He currently oversees business, faculty and external operations, human resources and the Weibring Golf Club.
Illinois State Hires Smith as Head Women’s Basketball Coach
April 15th, 2013 by Tim Van Duyne
NORMAL- The Kaufman football building on the campus of Illinois State was packed to see ISU Athletic Director Gary Friedman introduce the seventh women’s head basketball coach in school history. Illinois State hired Barb Smith to replace former head coach Stephanie Glance on Sunday.
Smith has been involved in division-one women’s basketball for 26 years. She has been a head coach once before at San Diego State from 1997-2002. Smith has been an assistant coach at five different schools, her last stop being at Saint Louis University last season.
Smith is considered as a prominent recruiter. She has over ten top-20 nationally-ranked classes.
“I’m going to recruit hard work and character,” Smith said.
Sometimes when a coaching change takes place massive change occurs systematically. But it Smith will try to run a similar style of up-tempo offense that ISU ran last season. As far as tempo goes on offense and defense, Smith wants to keep the pressure on the opposing team at all times.
Smith’s three keys for success are team, effort and attitude.
Smith takes over for Glance, who resigned earlier this month. Glance left for a head coaching position at Columbia. In Glance’s three years at ISU, she coached three 20-win teams and had three WNIT appearances.
Redbird Softball Concludes Non-Conference Play Against DePaul
April 9th, 2013 by Tim Van Duyne
NORMAL – The Illinois State softball team (17-15) begins its stretch of six games in six days today in Chicago. The Redbirds will wrap up their regular season non-conference schedule against the DePaul Blue Demons (23-13).
The Redbirds are running into a hot Blue Demon squad. In its last four games DePaul has scored 60 runs, all resulting in run-rule victories.
ISU is coming off its first Missouri Valley Conference series win (2-1) this weekend against Missouri State. The Redbirds swept the weekly conference awards. Senior catcher Elizabeth Kay received player of the week for the fourth time this year, and junior Taylor Baxter received pitcher of the week honors for the first time in her career.
After ISU’s trip to Chicago Tuesday, they will come back home for a make-up double-header against the Bradley Braves on Thursday. Then Saturday the team will head to Des Moines, Iowa for a three game series against Drake.
The Redbirds and the Blue Demons have a first pitch set for 4:00 p.m. C.T. at Cacciatore Stadium in Chicago today.
Redbirds look to shock Wichita State
March 28th, 2013 by John McCarthy
The Redbird baseball team travels to Wichita, Kansas this weekend for a three-game series against Wichita State. The first pitch of the series is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday, with a double header set for Saturday, the first game of the double will be getting underway at 2:00 p.m. and the second game following at 5:30 p.m.
Illinois State will look to get back to their winning ways after dropping two of three to Eastern Illinois last weekend, and having a game postponed due to weather. “Our guys are very anxious to play again after the way our last series ended.” Illinois State head coach Mark Kingston said.
The Wichita State lineup that currently boasts four players hitting .300 or above, will test the Redbird pitching staff in their first taste of Missouri Valley Conference play this season. “We have to keep the ball down against these guys, and get ahead in counts on a consistent basis” Kingston said.
Kingston leads his team into this weekend’s play confident in the team’s ability and their desire to play. “We know we have all the makings of a good team, we’re all motivated to be the best we can be at all times.” Kingston said.
Redbirds Helping Redbirds
March 26th, 2013 by Tim Van Duyne
Marian Kneer Stadium
NORMAL – If you look at your calendar it says spring is here, but if you look out your window you’ll notice there is snow covering all the green grass and vibrant flowers that spring brings.
This unseasonable weather is disrupting Illinois State’s althletic programs. The Redbird softball team has already had two MVC series postponed due to inclement weather. The baseball team had its first home series of the season moved to the Corn Crib due to a weathered-based construction delay. Also, Tuesday’s baseball game between ISU and Illinois has been postponed due to the snow. Tuesday was supposed to be the football team’s first practice of spring ball, but that too was cancelled.
So, in the mean time, members of the Redbird football team brought their shovels and wheelbarrows with them to Marian Kneer Stadium to help the softball team clear their field. This unconventional work out may not have been what head football coach Brock Spack had in mind, but it sure made softball head coach Melinda Fischer happy to see her Redbirds getting some help with the field.
Redbird football and softball players
From left field to right, there were over 100 student athletes clearing the unwanted snow from Marian Kneer Stadium Tuesday afternoon. Both football and softball coaches were also a part of the clean-up crew. Even though clearing the field was no easy task, some players had some fun in the snow. Snow balls were playfully thrown, and, in some cases, snow boulders were thrown.
The softball team’s game against the Illini Wednesday has already been postponed. But the ‘Birds are trying to get the field in playing shape by Friday, March 29 so they can play in their first MVC game, as well as their first home game. Right now, ISU is set to host Southern Illinois in a three-game series at Marian Kneer Stadium this weekend, weather permitting.
The football team hopes to get on the field for their final two practices of the week this Thursday and Friday.
Illinois is accustomed to random weather changes, but come on mother nature! It’s March 26. Enough with the snow please!
But all in all, the Redbird family seemed to enjoy their unconventional day on the field, making the most of a snowy situation.
ISU Advances in WNIT After Big Second Half
March 21st, 2013 by Tim Van Duyne
NORMAL – The Illinois State Redbirds women’s basketball team took over in the second half en route to a 63-47 victory over Indinia University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Thursday night at Redbird Arena.
The Redbirds were led by Senior forward Candace Sykes and Sophopmore foward Janae Smith. Sykes came off the bench for the ‘Birds scoring a team high 15 on 5-12 shooting. Smith also scored 15 for ISU, and she added five rebounds. Jamie Russell was the only other Redbird in double figures scoring 12 points.
DeAirra Goss, the Junior forward for the Jaguars, led all scorers with 17 points on 8-12 shooting. Second in scoring for IUPUI was Senior forward Kerah Nelson with 13 points.
The Redbirds started the game with sloppy play. They turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes to fall behind IUPUI 6-0. The ‘Birds finally got on the scoreboard after a Russell runner with three minutes into the game. Sykes provided some offense off the bench connecting on three three-pointers in the first half.
IUPUI created much of its offense in the first half off of turnovers. The Jaguars scored 14 points off 15 ISU turnovers. On offense the Jaguars were lead by Nelson and Goss both with seven first-half points. IUPUI was hot from behind the arc, shooting 4-6 from three-point range.
Despite 15 first half turnovers, the Redbirds went into the break tied with the Jaguars 25-25.
Coming out of the break ISU took an early nine-point advantage because of the play by its front court. In the first five minutes of the second half, Janae Smith and Brianna Puni both scored a quick six points each to pad ISU’s lead.
Midway through the second half, IUPUI went scoreless for almost six minutes. The Jaguar drought let ISU extend its lead to 16 with nine minutes to play. The Redbirds never looked back from that point, as their defense only allowed the Jaguars 22 second-half points.
The Redbirds outscored the Jaguars 38-22 in the second half and cruised to a 63-47 victory over IUPUI.
The next opponent ISU will face in the second round of the WNIT is Kansas State. The second round match-up between the Redbirds and Wildcats will be played Monday March 25 at 7:00 p.m. CT.
ISU Hosts IUPUI Thursday in WNIT
March 19th, 2013 by Tim Van Duyne
NORMAL – The Illinois State women’s basketball team received an automatic bid to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Redbirds will host IUPUI Thursday at Redbird Arena starting at 7:05 p.m CT. This is ISU’s fifth consecutive appearance in the WNIT.
Including this year’s bid, the Redbirds have 12 WNIT appearances. ISU’s overall record in the tournament is 19-17, with a record of 12-4 in the past four years. The Redbirds advanced to the semi-finals the past three years.
Tickets for Thursday’s game go on sale Tuesday at 9 a.m. and are $11 for adults and $8 for youth under the age of 18. ISU students receive free admission to the game. Red Alert members are required to show their passes at the door, and all other students can pick up a ticket prior to the game or at the gate. Tickets can be purchased at the Illinois State Athletic Ticket Office in Redbird Arena or online at GoRedbirds.com.
IUPUI comes out of the Summit League and received an automatic bid into the WNIT. They posted a record of 20-11 this season, which marks their first 20-win season since the 1990-91 campaign. The Jaguars finished second in the Summit League with a record of 12-4.
ISU and IUPUI have played twice in their school’s history. The Redbirds own a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series against the Jaguars. The last time these two teams played ISU defeated IUPUI 77-60 at Redbird Arena on Nov. 29, 2002.
The WNIT is comprised of 64 teams, of which 31 receive automatic berths and 33 are awarded at-large berths. It is a single-elimination tournament consisting of six rounds. The championship game will be April 6, starting at 2:05 p.m. CT. CBS Sports Network will broadcast this years championship game.
For live coverage of the Redbirds’ first round match-up against IUPUI, listen to 103.3 WZND or listen online at WZND.com.
Redbird of the Week: Elizabeth Kay
March 18th, 2013 by Tim Van Duyne
Normal – The Redbird Senior catcher from Bartlett, Elizabeth Kay, is off to a great start this season. She leads the team in batting avg. (.363), RBI (24), and home runs (5).
The rest of the Redbird softball team is also performing well. ISU played in five tournaments this season and came out with a record of 13-12. They also racked up three wins against top-25 teams.
Kay is a four-year starter at ISU. She played her first two seasons behind the plate catching for the ‘Birds. In her Junior year, Kay moved to third base for all but one game. This season Kay is back to the position she is most comfortable with (catcher), and she is making the most of her last season in a Redbird uniform.
Kay has put together a memorable career wearing red and white. She ranks in the top 15 all-time in home runs (3rd with 38), RBI (4th with 146), total bases (6th with 309), slugging percentage (10th with .528), runs scored (10th with 105) and hits (15th with 165). Kay has also been very durable for the Redbirds. She has started all 190 games of her career, ranking her 12th all-time. She is 33 starts shy of Kara Nelson’s record 223. There are 30 games left in the season, not including postseason.
I sat down with the Senior catcher and was able to find out what it is Kay does off the field. Below are some of her interests and a link to the full interview I did with her.
Favorite thing to do outside of softball: Relaxing and watching movies
Favorite movie: Pitch Perfect
Favorite music: Country (not a big T-Swift fan)
Favorite musical artist: Jason Aldean
Favorite athlete growing up: U.S. Olympic gold medalist and softball pitcher Lisa Fernandez
Career path after graduating: Teaching physical education and coaching softball
Podcast: Play in new window
Redbirds Make MVC Tournament Championship
March 17th, 2013 by Ronnie Szudarski
The Illinois State Women’s Basketball team will be headed back to the Missouri Valley Conference Championship game for the first time in 5 years. It took an overtime period but the ‘Birds were able to defeat the number two seeded Creighton Bluejays in the semi-finals. Candace Sykes led the way for ‘Birds recording her second straight double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
ISU jumped out to an early 5-0 lead but Creighton responded scoring four quick points to get to within one. That was as close as the Bluejays would get in the first half as the two teams traded buckets until about six minutes to go in the half. The Redbirds were up by two before going on a 14 to 5 run to end the half and lead by 11.
In the second half Creighton looked like a completely different team as they found their shooting stroke from behind the arc. The Bluejays started the half shooting a ridiculous 4-5 from behind the arc as they proceeded to go on a 24-6 run to open the second half and take their first lead of the night by a score of 42-37.
Creighton would extend their lead to nine points, with a 55-46 lead, before the Redbirds battled back. Creighton would go ice cold after their hot start to the second half failing to score in the final 5:20 of the game. The birds would go on a 9 to 0 run to end regulation and send the game into overtime as both teams failed to score in the final two minutes of the game.
In overtime both teams struggled to score until Candace Sykes hit a 3-pointer and drew a foul with just under three minutes left, but she would miss the free throw attempt. The ‘Birds would not give up the lead for the rest of the game as Creighton got the lead down to one a couple different times. Good free throw shooting down the stretch helped the Redbirds go on to a 64-61 victory.
ISU Ends Tournament Drought
March 16th, 2013 by Ronnie Szudarski
In a game where both teams struggled shooting the ball it was the defense that propelled ISU Women’s Basketball Team to victory over the Bradley Braves. This is the first time in four years that the Redbirds were able to advance past the quarter finals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The Braves took an early 10-8 lead and eventually went up 15-9 as ISU went almost 6 minutes without a basket. Janae Smith carried the Redbirds early on with six quick points before a crucial time out. With about 10 minutes left in the first half Head Coach Stephanie Glance called a timeout that seemed to spark the redbirds as the preceded to go on a 17-1 run to end the half leading by 10.
In the second half Jamie Russell traded baskets with Katie Yohn of the Braves as the two players finally found their shooting stroke. The two teams went back and forth with the Redbirds maintaining a comfortable lead until the final minutes of the game.
Bradley finally found a way to slow down Russell and the Birds as they got to within two points with about two minutes left. However, as the Birds have done all season, they locked down defensively and forced the Braves into tough shots that just wouldn’t fall. Bradley was forced to foul down the stretch which allowed the birds to build the lead back up and win by the final score of 59-48.