Badgers looking to bounce back

first_imgComing off a season of “what-ifs” that led the team to their fourth consecutive losing season, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team finds themselves having remarkably high hopes for this upcoming season.With a talented recruiting class and a team that returns four of their top five scorers from a year ago, the buzz around this year’s team is legit, as the postseason is on the minds of all 13 women on the team.However, no player on the women’s basketball team, which begins its season in exhibition play tonight against UW-Stevens Point, is more vital to the team’s success than junior Jolene Anderson. It has been a productive off-season for Anderson, as she has been decorated with multiple high honors.Not only did Anderson win a gold medal with the U20 USA Basketball team, Anderson was named to the preseason all-Big Ten first team and as one of the top 20 players in women’s college basketball.”Coming from a small town in northern Wisconsin, it’s definitely a major accomplishment,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t do it without all the people helping me my first two years here to put me in that position to be successful. It’s something that I am proud of.”Other than Anderson, however, Wisconsin fans are going to need to refer to their program throughout the first few weeks of the season. Wisconsin brings in eight new players in hopes of recouping some of the talent of last year’s six departed seniors and underclassmen. Seven freshmen and one community college transfer join the five returning veterans in hopes of returning Wisconsin to prominence.Though the Badgers have only been playing with each other a few weeks, the coaching staff is beginning to see some chemistry being formed.”No question, [fans] are going to see a lot of new players on the floor,” head coach Lisa Stone said. “Looking at different combinations for our rotations, we feel pretty confident with a nine-to-ten-person rotation. The big thing this year is team chemistry, and we’re off to a great start. The kids like each other, they get along and are working hard.” “This first few weeks in practice, I can feel that the team is closer than in my past two years here,” Anderson said. “Hopefully that’s something that can build and will transfer to the court. We just need to find out who plays what position well. That’s going to be the hardest thing for us this year … finding five people who gel well together on the court is something we’re going to have to work at.”We know in the back of our minds that we can get some things done on the court if we want to,” Anderson continued. “Everybody wants to win, and it’s just a matter of breaking through the Big Ten conference. That’s something I think our team can achieve if we put our minds to it.”One of the most talented freshmen in the bunch is Minnesota native Sarah Ingison. Noted for her work ethic and defensive ability, Ingison brings in a talented shooting touch — 1,231 career points — along with a knack for stopping opponents. Earning an all-state selection in 2006, Ingison is looking forward to giving the Badgers a true point guard on the court and a hard-nosed defender.”The fact that I am a true point guard [means we’ll] be able to have Jolene and Janese [Banks] play the wings,” Ingison said. “For them to play their more normal position on the court and have that direction will help tremendously.”I like playing defense so much,” Ingison added. “The shooting can come and go, but anyone can always play good defense. It’s fun to stop people and make them frustrated.”But if the Badgers are going to shed their losing ways over the course of the past four years, they are going to have to remain healthy and learn to win close games. Last season, Banks missed five games with a left foot injury.Banks, who was the second leading scorer on the team and 15th in the Big Ten, was just one of the many injuries sustained by the Badgers last season.Without Banks and then-senior center Annie Nelson, the Badgers faltered late in ball games. In 33 games last season, Wisconsin was 2-8 in games decided by six points or less, and was 0-4 in games decided by three or less. With all the young faces competing for spots and the Badgers finishing last season strong, Stone has high expectations for achieving different results this year.”We finished 4-4 in the Big Ten down the stretch and made a nice little push,” Stone said. “Two of those games could have gone the other way and then we are looking at a 6-2 finish. We’re excited about that, and staying healthy, focused and being prepared are all huge. There’s a lot of competition for time this year, and that’s good, healthy competition.”We want to start to make a difference here,” Stone added. “We like our team, we like our chances and we’ll prepare and play. I’ve been coaching for 22 years and every team is different. This team is special in their own way, and I am pleased to be coaching them.”last_img

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