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Badgers hope to get back on track


first_imgSenior guard Rae Lin D\’Alie\’s Badgers have lacked their trademark stingy defense and have shot a miserable 37.9 percent from the field in their past five games.[/media-credit]A lack of energy and intensity never seemed to be among the Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s faults.Through the sprints, scrimmages and drills, the Badgers consistently appear loud and energetic. However, having lost two of their last three after a four-game win streak in January, energy and intensity is exactly what the Badgers (17-7, 7-6) find themselves looking to improve as Indiana (13-10, 6-6) visits the Kohl Center Sunday evening.“I think that we need to crank it up a notch,” junior forward Tara Steinbauer said. “I think that our practices need to be more intense. I think that for games, the next five games are really huge for us, and I think we need to come out focused and mentally prepared for each and every one of those, and I think that starts in practice.”After falling to Purdue on a shot with two seconds remaining last Sunday, Wisconsin finds itself looking to refocus as postseason play approaches. After a successful January that saw the Badgers pick up wins over four quality Big Ten opponents, including a Jan. 14 road upset 48-45 of then-No. 20 Michigan State, Wisconsin has struggled.In its last five games, UW has allowed opponents to score an average of 60.2 points per game — much higher than the team’s Big Ten-leading average of 53.9. Additionally, Wisconsin has shot only 37.9 percent from the field in that span, compared to its season average of 42.7, which is good for third in the Big Ten. Together, these shortcomings on both sides of the ball have left Wisconsin searching for consistency, especially in the second half of games.“Our ability to finish the game,” head coach Lisa Stone noted as one of her team’s recent struggles. “[We need to] make free throws and do some of the details down the stretch, continue to defend as we’re defending and rebound… get more people involved offensively.”Fortunately for Stone’s squad, leading scorer Alyssa Karel survived a scare Sunday after awkwardly landing on her right knee while going for a steal. Averaging 14.1 points per game and consistently keying the Badgers’ offensive attack, the junior guard practiced Tuesday and is back at full strength, according to Stone.Riding a two-game win streak, Indiana will look to exploit Wisconsin’s recent defensive struggles with an up-tempo attack. Sophomore forward Danilsa Andujar is the Hoosiers’ tallest player at 6-foot-2, while the Badgers’ pair of junior forwards, Steinbauer and Lin Zastrow, stand at 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-4, respectively. As a result, Indiana relies on their transition game to trigger fastbreaks and provide easy buckets, as well as an aggressive matchup zone.“They’re a very good defensive team,” Stone said. “They rebound the ball hard. They penetrate really hard to the basket. …They’re good in transition, they’re good at getting to the basket, and, defensively, they play a matchup zone that tries to disrupt your flow. It’s important that we improve on our areas of turnovers and toughness with the ball and find ways to get good shots.”Leading the way for the Hoosiers’ offense are guards Jori Davis and Jamie Braun. Davis, a junior from Rochester, NY, is the Big Ten’s fourth-leading scorer with 17.7 points per game, while Braun, a Wisconsin native, contributes 11.6. Complementing the veteran guard duo in the starting lineup is 6-foot-1 junior forward Hope Elam, junior guard Whitney Lindsay, and Danilsa Andujar.“They’re going to play hard, they always play hard against us,” Wisconsin senior guard Rae Lin D’Alie said. “They’re going to come out with a lot of energy, we have to match that and have more. Our defense has definitely got to be on point. A lot of their guards can score; they have a post player [Elam] who can shoot the three, who can drive, who can make moves inside. So we’re going to have to be ready defensively, definitely.”For the Badgers, taking care of the ball will be at a premium. Despite ranking 56th in the nation in turnovers per game, Wisconsin has gave the ball away an average of 21.5 times over the last two games.“One of the biggest things for us is going to be taking care of the ball,” Steinbauer said. “I think we need to show some toughness with the ball up top.”Under her tenure, Stone’s teams have been known for stingy defense and safe offensive play, so the Badgers’ recent stretch is a reason for concern.“Stay focused on details, take one game a time, redeem ourselves at home,” Stone said of her expectations for Sunday. “It’s important that we come out with some energy and we play harder, longer.”last_img read more