In a roller coaster ride of a 2008-09 season, one thing has remained constant for the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team: the play of sophomore guard Alyssa Karel.
Karel is the only Badger to have started all of Wisconsin’s 29 games this season, and she has scored in double digits in 24 of those 29, including a career-high 25 points against Northern Illinois in a December home game.
As a credit to her strong play throughout the season, Karel earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors Monday from the Big Ten coaches and the media.
The St. Paul, Minn., native first learned of the honor via text message.
“Coach Stone just texted me and told me,” Karel said. “It was a cool thing to receive. To be put up there with those types of players is an honor.”
Karel leads the Badgers in scoring this season, with 13 points per game, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring average. The 5-foot-7 guard’s success is due in large part to her shooting ability from beyond the arc, where she has shot 36.9 percent for the season. That mark ranks seventh in the conference, as does her 1.66 3-pointers per game average.
After not starting a single game as a freshman, Karel has stepped into a much larger role for the Badgers this season, averaging nearly 34 minutes per game on the season.
“Alyssa’s had a great year as a sophomore,” Stone said. “I think she would go in the category or the definition of a super sophomore in the conference. She went from a freshman to a sophomore and took on a big load this year and has handled it very well.”
Karel’s success has not come simply by her own merits, however. Much of her individual performance has been aided by the team-oriented focus of the Badgers.
With no true star on the squad, Karel has been given the chance to assert herself as the team’s leading scorer without the burden of feeling the need to lead the Badgers offensively on a game-by-game basis.
With such a team-oriented style of play, the rest of the team is able to enjoy Karel’s individual honor as a credit to the Badgers’ play as a whole this season.
“I couldn’t say what I did to earn the honor,” Karel said. “It’s hard to be a good player without a good team behind you. I think just our success early in the season and our continued effort was a major factor.”
“It’s so cool even just for Wisconsin to have someone represent us among that group of people,” senior captain Rae Lin D’Alie added. “It’s awesome, so I congratulated her today.”
Still, D’Alie notes Karel is one of the top players offensively in the Big Ten, especially at the guard position, with an impressive 24-inch vertical at her disposal.
“She’s dynamic — she can score from the three, she can pull up and rise up and shoot over the biggest people in the conference,” D’Alie said. “Alyssa just has a relentlessness about her, and she’s tough and just gets it done.”
Karel’s All-Big Ten honor is not the first award she has received this year. Just a month ago she was chosen as a member of the ESPN The Magazine/College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District 5 first team. Although she did not receive Academic All-American honors, Karel holds her academic honor in high regard.
“Obviously, academics are the reason we are here,” Karel said. “So, if I had to choose, I’m going to have to go with that one, but it’s definitely nice to get both of them.”
Humble as always, Karel is not eager to discuss her individual accolades. Instead, she would prefer to focus on the task ahead for Wisconsin: Thursday’s first round matchup with Northwestern at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“The most important thing is it’s not really going to mean anything if we go into the Big Ten Tournament and just kind of botch it,” Karel said. “So, it’s most important that we get these wins in the upcoming days.”