Big 12’s Jayhawks next for women’s basketball

first_imgThe debut of the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge takes place at the Kohl Center on Sunday with the Wisconsin women’s basketball team (2-1) slated to take on the Kansas Jayhawks (2-0).Following a tough 69-43 road loss Thursday against UW-Green Bay, the Jayhawks are just one of many challenging teams remaining on Wisconsin’s schedule.“Our non-conference schedule this year is as tough as it has been in the history of the program,” head coach Lisa Stone said. “I like a challenging schedule because we’re hoping that that really prepares us for the Big Ten season and beyond.”Because of the uneven number of teams between conferences, Sunday’s game will actually be one of two Badger games that count towards the Big Ten’s record in the challenge. Wisconsin had already scheduled Kansas as a non-conference game to help boost their RPI rankings. They will also take the road in a showdown against the Oklahoma State Cowgirls early in December.Kansas boasts a very good transitional game and strong post play that is anchored by sophomore forward Carolyn Davis. Davis earned Freshman All-America honors last year and is a preseason Big 12 honorable mention this season. Last year, she averaged 10.2 points per game on a team single-season record 71.9 percent shooting while also contributing 5.6 rebounds per game.Apart from on the court challenges like Davis, conference challenges are another gauge of talent for Wisconsin. The Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge has meaning for both players and coaches alike. For the Badgers, it is all about making a name for them and for the Big Ten.“I think it sends a huge message about the Big Ten conference, that we’re one of the most competitive leagues out there,” senior forward Tara Steinbauer said. “Each game is huge for us and hopefully each game we come out victorious.”Assistant coach Oties Epps is responsible for scouting the Jayhawks, and not only does he see this as a big opportunity to gain some respect for Wisconsin and for the Big Ten, but he also knows this is the biggest test and opportunity the Badgers will have faced up to this point in the season.“We don’t feel like the Big Ten gets the respect that it deserves as a conference so we want to go out and do our part and get a win for the Big Ten,” Epps said. “This is just another opportunity for us to make a statement for the Big Ten. Come NCAA Tournament time [the selection committee will] be looking at how your conference did against other conferences, so we want to make sure that we stack up well.”This weekend is another short turnaround for the Badgers, with only two days to prepare for Kansas.“It goes almost immediately. We come back on Friday and [begin] preparing for Kansas,” Steinbauer said. “We definitely have a game-by-game mentality but once that game is over it’s in the past and win or lose you definitely have to keep moving forward.”For Wisconsin, moving forward will hopefully mean having standout senior Alyssa Karel return from a knee injury that has sidelined her for the first three games of the season. Stone remains optimistic that she will be able to come back against Kansas. In the meantime, freshman guard Morgan Paige has filled in and received advice from Karel.“She always says to relax,” Paige said. “If you relax then your mind clears up, and you don’t think about as many things and you just play the game. Mistakes come less if you just play instead of over-thinking what you want to do with the ball.”The advice seems to be paying off, as Paige has averaged 6.3 points per game and only turned the ball over six times in three games.Despite Thursday night’s setback, the Badgers will look to refocus when they come back home against Kansas. Their goal of a conference championship is a long way from being reached, but one early-season loss does not distance it from their grasp. In her preseason press conference, Stone said this team had a long way to go and the Badgers will undoubtedly keep working to accomplish their high standards. After Sunday’s game, the picture may become a little clearer on how good Wisconsin really is.last_img

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