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The Badger Herald

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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Stone’s team ready to play

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Wisconsin senior guard Teah Gant is one of 11 to return from last season\’s team that finished 19-15.[/media-credit]

Apparently, Lisa Stone is better friends with the Big Ten media than her coaching peers.

Stone — head coach of the Wisconsin women’s basketball team — saw her squad picked to finish 10th in the conference in the preseason coaches’ poll while the preseason media poll had the Badgers finishing three spots higher, at seventh.

“The media like us, I like that. The preseason polls are as they are — there’s been no competition [yet],” Stone said. “We are motivated by it. … We finished the Big Ten Tournament on a high note, certainly, and our goal is bigger and better.”

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That end-of-the-season surge saw UW win two Big Ten Tournament games, as well as advance to the WNIT Sweet 16. It was a bit of redemption for a team that started the 2008-09 season 10-1, and then went 4-9 to start conference play. The media pollsters seemed to remember how the Badgers finished the season more than how they collapsed in the middle of it.

For Stone, there was a bit of encouragement from the polls, but the team will stay focused on its own goals.

“We’re motivated by the preseason polls, (but) we don’t put a whole lot of stake into them,” she said. “Our job is to get better each day, to continue to grow as a team — a team that is familiar with what’s ahead of us. The Big Ten is going to be very, very strong this year, and it’s up to us to stay healthy, stay together and keep improving.”

Badgers ready to get started

UW opens play Sunday in an exhibition game against UW-Oshkosh. The Badgers return 11 players from last season’s team, and Stone said the players are excited to get started.

“Our returning players are hungry, they’re thirsty, ready to get on the court and looking forward to Sunday,” she said.

Despite the veterans on the roster, the implementation of a new offense has meant the team is still a work in progress.

Sunday’s game against Oshkosh should be a good tune-up before the actual season starts.

“What I’ve not liked is our lack of consistency from day to day. We need to improve,” Stone said. “And we as a staff have talked about identifying roles, on maybe who’s a screener on the perimeter instead of a person coming off a screen. Identifying those roles will go into place this week.”

While emphasizing that defense and toughness would remain keys for the team, the key to Wisconsin’s season could be its new “four-around-one motion” offense. The new system looks to take advantage of UW’s guard-heavy roster.

However, like anytime a team overhauls a major part of its game plan, there are kinks to go with it.

“It’s an offense that allows, obviously, some freedom. But there’s some days it’s moving well; other days, it’s very, very fast — that’s what I’m seeing right now. We’re moving way too fast,” Stone said.

“It’s exciting, because there’s moments when [the offense] looks really, really good. And like anything else this early in the season, there’s moments it doesn’t look so good.”

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