The Badgers’ second-leading scorer, who averages 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, is one of the best players on Wisconsin’s squad but is always hesitant to take credit for a great performance. Zastrow has been even better since the start of Big Ten play and has served as the key to the Badgers’ dominating inside presence all year.
On a team that is always looking to make the extra pass, the senior forward is the epitome of an unselfish player.
“When I score those points, you know you don’t do it at all,” Zastrow said. “It’s coming from a pass, it’s coming off the defense, it’s coming though someone else. You never get somewhere in life without the people around you.”
It has been a career year for the Jefferson, Wis. native, who has greatly increased her scoring and is averaging a career-high in rebounds this year. After missing several games early in the season, Zastrow showed just how important she is to the team’s success, as UW went 0-3 in their games without her.
The senior forward has been a key to success in Big Ten play, as she has put up at least 20 points four times this year, with all of those impressive performances coming against conference opponents. Although coaches and teammates have seen tremendous potential in Zastrow since she arrived on campus, it took her a couple years to find the confidence to become a star player.
“In previous years, I think she thought that her selflessness needed to be giving the ball up,” senior guard Alyssa Karel said. “And I think she’s starting to realize now that the selflessness needs to come in her doing what she needs and can do. And I think she’s really getting that this year, and it’s made a tremendous impact on the team.”
Zastrow’s ability to score was on display when she put up 23 points and nine rebounds in a tough overtime loss to Michigan State. Converting on all eight free throws she attempted and even hitting a shot from beyond the arc, Zastrow proved that she can carry the Badgers when necessary.
The senior powers UW’s post game and currently leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting over 55 percent this season. It may not have come as soon as expected, but the Wisconsin coaching staff is still pleased to see Zastrow’s reach her potential as a senior.
“I’m extremely proud of what Lin’s done,” assistant coach Ty Margenthaler said. “Every single year stat-wise, and just maturity-wise, she’s grown as a person, and that’s what I love to see. The neat thing to see in Lin this year, knowing that
this is kind of her team, and she took that roll, and accepted it, and now she’s just blossomed into just one of the best post players in the country.”
With a quiet demeanor, the senior is not always the one firing up her teammates during a timeout. Zastrow is an unquestioned leader for the Badgers, but she prefers to let her play do the talking.
“She leads by example,” Karel said. “The things she does on the court, just the way she lives off the court … She’s not an outwardly loud person, but it’s easy to follow her just because she is doing the right things and she is getting it done.”
Coaches agree that Zastrow is the kind of player every coach dreams of having – one who sets a strong example of how a student-athlete should handle herself both on and off the hardwood. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten winner, Zastrow’s hard work on the court translates well to the classroom.
“She’s the same every single day,” Margenthaler said. “She’s not too high or not too low, and I think the team respects that, that she’s always going to bring Lin Zastrow to the table. I think that’s kind of her quieter leaderness – they know that they can always count on her.”
Apart from her offensive presence, the senior forward is also a lockdown defender who has shut down some of the best post players in the conference. By limiting the success of stars like Northwestern’s Amy Jaeschke, the coaches strongly believe that Zastrow deserves a spot on the All-Big Ten Defensive team.
As Zastrow’s college career comes to a close in the coming weeks, you might expect her to have a long list of goals to establish her legacy in Wisconsin women’s basketball history. But, in typical “Lin” fashion, Zastrow is keeping her goals pretty modest.
“As you’re getting closer to the end [of your career] you might think that it would be more of the Big Ten Championship … get in the [NCAA] Tournament. But it starts to change when you get that close, and I guess my goal is to have no regrets as I go through these last couple of weeks … and just have fun with it, because you’re never going to get back.”