After making a surprising run in the Big Ten Tournament, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team is back on the court, preparing for a possible postseason appearance.
Last weekend in Indianapolis, the seventh-seeded Badgers made it to the semifinal round of the tournament for the second time in school history after beating Northwestern 60-51 in the opening round and then upsetting second-seed Michigan State 56-50. Wisconsin finally fell to Purdue 70-56 in the semifinals.
“I think we played pretty well,” junior guard Rae Lin D’Alie said. “I think we came with intensity and really wanted to make a good showing and I think we did. As far as the game against Purdue, I think we just got a little tired and hit a wall in the second half.”
Sophomore guard Alyssa Karel also thought fatigue played a role in the team’s loss to Purdue, their third game in three days.
“Purdue is a good team,” Karel said. “In the first half, I think we played awesome and I think they just got the best of us in the second half. We tried to take some things away which left some weaknesses open and they took advantage. All in all, it was a good tournament.”
Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone was also impressed with her team’s performance.
“I thought we played awesome,” Stone said. “We really came together as a team, Rae Lin showed great leadership, and we really bonded together and played some of our best basketball this year.”
In all likelihood, Wisconsin’s season will continue beyond the Big Ten Tournament, as the team will probably be invited to play in a postseason tournament. With an 18-14 record, the Badgers already have two more wins than the Wisconsin team that went to the National Invitational Tournament last year. However, the team isn’t worried about possible invitations at this point. They’re just happy they will be playing more basketball.
“You always hope for the NCAA, but the more realistic tournament this year is the NIT,” Karel said. “Either one we get into, we’re playing to win it. Most likely, we’re going to play in some sort of postseason tournament so we just have to be ready for it.”
Stone is also excited for postseason play and sees the opportunity as a learning experience for a team that has only one senior on their roster.
“We’re going to play,” Stone said. “I’m very convinced of that. I’m very confident that we have more basketball to play. I’m very excited because we’re very young and the more we can play, the better.”
The NCAA Tournament field will be announced on Monday night, with the NIT announcing its field immediately afterward. The first round of the NCAA Tournament begins on March 21, while the NIT begins March 18.
In the meantime, the Badgers are still practicing with the hopes of playing sometime next week. However, without an actual opponent for which to prepare, the Badgers have just been trying to stay sharp.
“Right now, it’s just a matter of staying in shape and staying sharp,” Karel said. “Not overworking us, but at the same time not letting us get lazy.”
Stone agrees with that assessment and emphasizes the fact that her players need to stay in shape and keep focused despite having two weeks off and not knowing who their opponent will be.
“We have to maintain our conditioning,” Stone said. “[Wednesday] was our first day back and we were a little rusty. We just have to work on our fundamentals and focus on us until we find out who we play. Right now, it’s staying conditioned, staying sharp, being mentally prepared, and trying to keep it fun.”