Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers comfortable heading into post season

Earlier in the season, the UW women’s basketball team seemed poised for something higher than a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. But now they’re just happy to be there, and they’re certainly trying to make the most of it.

“I think it’s perfect [for us],” senior guard Tamara Moore said about the Badgers’ placement. “It’s basically right in the middle. It just kind of symbolizes how our season went. Half good and half bad.”

Senior guard Kyle Black expressed the same feelings.

“We’re just happy to be getting the chance to play,” she said. “We’re just excited to be in the tournament. I think that we’re placed about right. I think that playing at our best we can play anywhere up to a two seed. I would rather be a lower seed because then we can surprise somebody. Last year we were a sixth seed and we got beaten by an 11 seed, so we were overlooking a team that was ranked as an 11 seed and should have been higher.”

Awaiting Wisconsin in the first round of the tournament will be the ninth-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils. Tip-off will be at 4 p.m. Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

The Sun Devils, unlike the Badgers, come into the tournament riding high. After going 23-8 (12-6 Pac-10) in the regular season, ASU stormed through the Pac-10 tournament to a championship and an automatic bid in the NCAAs, reaching their high-water mark for the season by knocking off No. 2 Stanford 70-63 in the title game.

On the other hand, the Badgers come into the tournament having dropped 10 out of their last 13 games.
5-foot-9 senior guard Amanda Levens has paced ASU in scoring this season with 17.1 points per game, including 22 in the big win over Stanford.

Senior center Melody Johnson, despite being just 6-foot-2, leads the team in rebounds with 6.7 per game and ranks only second in points behind Levens, with 12.3 per game.

With nobody taller than Johnson on the team, the bigger Badgers feel that they can exploit the Sun Devils in the post. UW also worked on their transition game in practice this week, something they feel they can also use to their advantage.

However, quick guards have been a thorn in the Badgers’ side, and ASU, led by Levens, has plenty of those. One only needs to see clips of Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante and Minnesota’s Linsay Whalen, both All-American guards, shredding through the UW defense to observe this.

“[ASU has] a good inside-outside game with Amanda Levens and Melody Johnson,” Moore said. “Levens can do a lot of things. Another one of their strengths is their pressure defense. They’re really scrappy and they work for everything that they get We want to transition as much as possible and
try to get in the open floor. [They also] really overplay the post players a lot. We just have to try to get the ball inside, as well as hit some outside jumpers.”

Black also stressed the emphasis on running a good transition game this Saturday.

“We really need to have a good transition game,” she said. “I think that if we can get into the open floor then we’ll be fine. They have a very good guard. One of our goals is to try to shut her down as much as we can. Obviously we need to rebound. That’s something that we’ve done off and on this whole season.”

However, head coach Jane Albright made it clear that the Badgers would not necessarily employ a run-and-gun game.

“You want to [run-and-gun], but it’s been my experience in the NCAA tournament sometimes that [run-and-gun] is what teams can take away from you,” she said. “[ASU] is just such a great half-court defensive team you want to try to get some easy buckets.”

If the Badgers can manage to knock off Arizona State, No. 1 seed Vanderbilt will likely be waiting in the wings. Despite the challenge, UW sees it as an opportunity to explode back into the national spotlight.

“I think we choose to look at it like that,” Albright said. “It’s a challenge, certainly, and we know Vanderbilt’s a great team.”

Still, knocking off Vanderbilt would not be all that unrealistic in a season that has seen everything, as senior forward Jessie Stomski aptly stated.

“There’s been ups and downs this season that have touched the highest points of our program and the lowest points of our program, so it’s been an amazing, emotional ride,” she said.

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