In most sports, a game between Wisconsin and UW-Green Bay would be considered an easy win for the Badgers, but that’s not the story for the women’s basketball team.
Facing a squad in Green Bay that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, this is not a cupcake non-conference game for the Badgers.
When UW travels to the Kress Events Center to take on the Phoenix, their opponent will pose a different challenge than most teams in that they rely on their guards and perimeter play to win games.
“Essentially they have five guards on the court,” said assistant coach Oties Epps. “Their post players are like six-foot, but they’re really guards. So that’s unique, and that’s going to be a really good challenge for our post players to defend a little bit on the perimeter.”
A veteran squad that returns all of their starters from last year’s 27-5 team, UW-Green Bay is not much of an underdog in this game. Picking up a two-point victory in last year’s matchup with Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, this is certainly not a matchup the Badgers can afford to overlook.
Despite all the challenges the Phoenix present, coaches and players both noted the Badgers are more concerned with themselves and what they do well in the game than their opposition.
“When we go into games, we think about us, and not so much our opponent,” sophomore guard Taylor Wurtz said. “I think we’re just going to focus on going to what we are, and that’s a defensive team. So we’re really going to work hard on defense and guarding.”
Focusing on their own play rather than the opponent’s has been an emphasis for Wisconsin all season, and it is something the women’s basketball team will keep in mind throughout the year.
“They work really well as a team together, and I just feel like we have to match that,” junior guard Jade Davis said. “It’s primarily about us, which that’s how we go into every game, and I feel like that’s going to still hold true in this game.”
Coming off an impressive road victory over Big Ten opponent Minnesota, the reigning Horizon League champions stand at 2-0 this season.
Led by senior guard/forward Kayla Tetschlag, who led the team with more than 15 points per game last year, the Phoenix have plenty of dynamic players who are a scoring threat anywhere on the court. Junior guard/forward Julie Wojta and senior guard Celeste Hoewisch, who both averaged double figures in scoring last year, present some secondary scoring threats.
“They’re a very good passing team, and they shoot the ball pretty well, so because of those two aspects it allows them to have pretty good offensive opportunities because all five players are really good passers and shooters,” Epps said. “And they play well together.”
Shooting is undoubtedly an area where UW-Green Bay excels, as they carry an impressive 50 percent field goal shooting percentage this season compared to the Badgers’ 44 percent.
“Green Bay comes out with a lot of energy,” Wurtz said. “They are very good at moving without the ball, and I think that’s going to be something that we need to really work on, is keeping vision of a player, and jumping into the gaps and stuff like that.”
As the Badgers try to continue to improve on the defensive side – something they have done well in their first two games by keeping their opponents under 40 points – this game should be a true test for the defense.
Without question the most talented team Wisconsin has faced so far this year, this game against Green Bay will be crucial in building momentum for the squad going into a very tough non-conference stretch of the season.
“I think just to grow and just to get better,” Davis said of the team’s goals for this game. “I think that this is going to be a huge game for us, and I feel like we definitely have the potential and, you know, the drive to get it done.”