first_imgPATRICK STATZ-BOYER/Herald photoThe University of Wisconsin’s women’s basketball team was 0-4 in games decided by three points or less last season. Tuesday’s 80-77 victory over Western Michigan puts the Badgers 1-0 (2-0 overall) in that same category for this young season.”To endure a late rush by a good team, with a tremendous player in Carrie Moore (29 points), is something that we take as a lesson learned,” Badgers head coach Lisa Stone said. “I think our team in the past couple years would be unable to close the door on a team like Western Michigan. This year, we did.”Stone’s crew finished last year’s campaign at 11-18. But veterans returning from last year would agree that there’s a different feeling in the Kohl Center this season.”[This team is] unique,” Stone said. “They’re unique in their energy. They’re unique in their unity off the court. They really got to get to know each other in the offseason.”The phrase “Team Unity” is spelled out across the back of their practice T-shirts, a motto that really seems to be paying off. In their first two games, the Badgers are averaging more than 20 assists per game.”The team as a whole is a lot closer,” sophomore forward Caitlin Gibson said. “We spend a lot more time together off the court.”A team without any seniors on its roster would generally lack leadership. This is certainly not the case with this group.”We have some great leaders in Janese (Banks) and Jolene (Anderson),” Stone said. “We’re just not going to use age as an excuse this year. We refuse to do that. Good teams continue to get better and rise to the occasion. We just want to keep trying to improve.””[The veterans have helped me out] tremendously,” freshman point guard Rae Lin D’Alie said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. If it wasn’t for [Janese’s mentoring], I don’t know where I’d be right now.”D’Alie has been a main reason this team is playing as well as they are right now.”I try to be a distributor, try and run the offense at [my] pace,” noted the 5-foot-3 guard from Waterford. “[I feel] very comfortable [already].”She did point out that the biggest difference between high school and college ball is the tempo of the game.”Even when you’re slowing [the game] down, it’s still fast-paced,” D’Alie said.But it hasn’t seemed to affect her game in the least, according to Stone.”[Rae Lin] has certainly been a big surprise for us,” Stone said. “She’s a small person with big surprises.”But with their schedule as demanding as it is, the Badgers have no time to bask in the glory of Tuesday night’s win. Central Connecticut State will challenge Stone’s squad tonight at the Kohl Center. The Blue Devils finished 9-20 last season and lost this season’s opener to Virginia Commonwealth 68-47 last Friday at home.CCSU does have a star forward in senior Gabriella Guegbelet. The 6-footer from the Central African Republic ranked 15th in the nation in rebounding last season, averaging 10.9 boards per game and an impressive 17.8 points per game.”[Guegbelet] is a tremendous athlete and a great player,” Stone noted. “We need to know where she is at all times and particularly we need to keep her off the glass.”She will likely be paired against Gibson underneath, a matchup Gibson is looking forward to.”I just need to box out,” said Gibson, who is coming off a career-high 15-point performance against Western Michigan.Gibson is aware of her responsibilities on the defensive end of the court, but she also looks for the ball in the offensive post.”I look to score because that’s what my coaches want me to do,” Gibson added. [We] want to [establish] an inside threat.”If she can repeat her performance from Tuesday, the Badgers should be all set down low.The schedule gets no easier after tonight, as UW-Milwaukee comes to town Monday. Then the Badgers will fly to Las Vegas for a Thanksgiving tournament.Even with so much on their plate, Stone and her Badgers seem focused on the task at hand, making reference to the famed UW football mentality this year.”We’re taking the Bret Bielema ‘1-0’ philosophy,” Stone claimed.last_img

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