March 2014 Archives

Field of 8: Tweeting 8 observations prior to tip-off

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Following a victory over Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen on Thursday, the Badgers earned a berth in the NCAA Elite Eight on Saturday, with a trip to the 2014 Final Four on the line.

Follow the team's every move via the #Fieldof8, as @BadgerMBB sends out 8 tweets with observations and commentary leading up to Saturday's contest between No. 2 Wisconsin and top-seeded Arizona.

Check out the Field of 68, Field of 32 & Field of 16 to see what you missed from the first two weeks of the Big Dance.


Badger Blog: Back home in Madison

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In this week's Badger Blog, head coach Yvette Healy discusses the Badgers tough schedule and their first home series of the 2014 season.

It's opening weekend in Madison! It's exciting to be home in Wisconsin, after playing on the road six of the last seven weekends.  We've been to Texas, California, Tampa, Miami, Louisville, and Chicago.  We're 15-12 right now, with big ranked wins over #8 Arizona and #23 Northwestern.   

This season has been filled with adversity, facing the toughest schedule in school history.  We've played #4 Florida twice, #17 Texas A&M twice, #5 Washington, #11 Arizona State, #8 Arizona, and #23 Northwestern three times. We still have eight ranked games ahead against #6 Michigan, #15 Minnesota, and #19 Nebraska.  At least two of our games against ranked opponents will be at home, when we host #19 Nebraska here on April 30th.

We'll face off against a tough Iowa team this weekend, as we get into the heart of Big Ten play.  Being from the Midwest, it's easy to appreciate how special Big Ten softball is.  What an amazing conference; great academics, great facilities and exciting rivalries.  It's an honor to play legacy programs like Iowa, with their 16 NCAA tournament appearances, 4 trips to the Women's College World Series, and 31 NCAA tournament wins.  Iowa is the type of successful, legacy softball program that we're working to build here at Wisconsin.  They have so much history when they step on the field, with 27 All-Americans. 

We know playing opponents like this is never easy.  Iowa has competed in Madison 8 times, and they've only lost one series.   The Hawkeyes are 12-3 all-time here at Wisconsin, which is an 80 percent win percentage.  Our goal is to start evening those numbers out.  We're working to make strides, to improve and to grow.  One game at a time, we're making progress, we're changing history, and we're building success.  It's a tough task to change history, but this senior class is certainly up for the challenge.      

Packer's Perspective: End of the Road

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Hey Badger Fans! 

    It has been a long season for the Badgers in Madison, and although it didn't end on the high we had hoped, I could not be more proud of my teammates. The determination, hard work, and relentless spirit of my teammates propelled us to successes many people doubted when we set out on our journey together last September.

    It is a bittersweet ending for many of my teammates, in large part the senior class. While we are happy with our four years here at Wisconsin and looking forward to bright futures, it is difficult to leave behind a team that has meant so much to us over the years. The team this year has been like a family on and off the ice. The spirit and kindness of every girl in our locker room made packing our bags together one final time a difficult and emotional moment.

    On behalf of my teammates I want to thank all the fans in Wisconsin and beyond who have supported us throughout the season, and for the seniors throughout our entire careers. It seems like just yesterday some of us were pulling on that Badger jersey for the first time, and my hope is that the future Badgers recognize the honor and pride that comes with bearing the motion W on their chest--it truly goes by too fast.

    While many memories have been created over the years, I will always remember the pride that accompanies being part of such a rich and historic tradition as a Badger athlete. The team was disappointed last weekend, but if I know anything about my teammates, it is that they will never quit. The seniors are moving on, but there is a fresh group of talent being added to the roster next year and a solid core returning that will do whatever it takes to continue bringing hardware back to Madison.

    Lastly, I want to thank our families and all the people back home. I have said it before, and sincerely mean it when I say that none of us would be where we are today without the love and support of those who first gave us the chance to chase our dreams. The coaches who pushed us when we were little and the parents who drove us to the rink and waited for us until it was time to make the drive back home are the reason we are where we are today. My parents said to me after the last game, "Thank you for all the memories, it's been a great run." I want to take this opportunity on behalf of my teammates to thank not only my parents, but also all the other parents of my teammates who have made this journey one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

    It has been a fun ride Badger fans, and while I am sad it is coming to an end, I look forward in the coming days or weeks to revealing the next blogger for the Wisconsin women's hockey team. Until next time, thanks for reading, and ON WISCONSIN!

-- Madison

 

Field of 16: Tweeting 16 observations prior to tip-off

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- After a thrilling Round of 32 match-up in Milwaukee, the Badgers are off to California for their third third Sweet 16 appearance in the last four seasons.

Follow the team's every move via the #Fieldof16, as @BadgerMBB cranks out 16 Tweets with observations and commentary leading up to Thursday's contest between second-seeded Wisconsin and No. 6 Baylor.

Check out the Field of 68 and Field of 32 to see what you missed while the team was in Milwaukee.

Badgers preview Sweet 16 matchup with Baylor

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Wednesday was the Badgers' introduction to the Honda Center, the site of UW's Sweet 16 game vs. Baylor on Thursday night. But before they got to step on the court, the players and coaching staff met with the media to talk about the matchup with Baylor. The complete transcript from the podium sessions with Coach Ryan, Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson can be found here.

In addition, here are some quotes from the Badgers' open locker room:

Sam Dekker on defending Baylor's big men: "Me and Frank [Kaminsky] will probably have to share the duties inside on those two early on. It doesn't matter who we have [to defend] as long as we are physical. We need to out-tough them. We can't play weaker on those guys, otherwise they will eat you alive."

Josh Gasser on Baylor's strong play in March: "They are playing really well right now. You have to come out with a lot of energy and match their intensity. It will be a physical game with their bigs down low. We have to come out right from the start."

Bronson Koenig on breaking down Baylor film: "Obviously we saw a lot of length and athleticism out of them. They are quick in closing out on the shooters in their zone."

Also check out our complete photo gallery of the Badgers' day at the Honda Center.

Head west, young men!

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That tweet says it all! 9 a.m. CT departure led to an 11:15 PT arrival in Los Angeles International Airport. On the way to the hotel and then a 4 p.m. practice at Cal State Fullerton to begin getting acclimated with the west coast time zone and shake out the travel weary legs. Rumor is the hotel is relatively close to Disneyland. Stay tuned for any surprise appearances.

Field of 32: Tweeting 32 observations prior to tip-off

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- The Badgers have advanced to the 2014 NCAA Tournament Round of 32, and that means @BadgerMBB will send out 32 Tweets with observations and commentary leading up to the third round NCAA tournament game between No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 7 Oregon.

22-5 run sparks Badgers to halftime lead

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The partisan Bradley Center crowd was getting a little antsy about midway through the first half but a Ben Brust 3-pointer ignited a 22-5 run over the final 9:17 to give Wisconsin a 32-22 lead heading into halftime.

The Badgers started the half hot offensively, going inside to Frank Kaminsky for their first three buckets of the game. A dunk by Sam Dekker gave the Badgers a 10-5 lead but then UW went cold, missing its next seven shots. During that time American went on a 12-0 run until Brust halted it with Wisconsin's first 3-pointer of the game, at the 9:17 mark. From that point until the end of the half, American scored just five points, going 1-7 from the field with four turnovers.

After a hot start, Kaminsky picked up his second foul with 4:44 left in the half. Undaunted, the Badgers outscored the Eagles 12-4 the rest of the way.

At the half, Brust leads all scorers with 11 points, Jackson has seven and Kaminsky has six. Guard John Shoof started hot for American and led the Eagles with eight points.

Despite missing seven in a row at one point, UW finished 11-of-26 (.423) from the field and made all seven of its free throw attempts. American was 8-of-18 (.444) from the field, 3-of-4 from the free throw line and committed eight turnovers.

Field of 68: Tweeting 68 observations leading up to tip-off

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- It's March Madness once again and that can only mean one thing: another edition of #Fieldof68. Follow along as we chronicle the Badgers journey through the 2014 NCAA Tournament, leading up to Wisconsin's first-round match-up against the American Eagles at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Sixty-eight teams in the tournament, that means 68 inside-access tweets about Wisconsin from @BadgerMBB all the way up to Thursday morning's tip between the Badgers and Eagles.

Overheard at Badgers media day

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Ben Brust, Josh Gasser, Frank Kaminsky and head coach Bo Ryan met with the media on Wednesday in advance of the Badgers' game Thursday morning against American. The complete transcript from their sessions can be found here: ASAP Sports.

Here are some of the highlights:

Josh Gasser on playing in Milwaukee: "It's awesome. It just means that you did something special during the year to get rewarded to play close to home. And it's great for my family, these guy's family, to be semi close. Just to be able to experience NCAA Tournament atmosphere is awesome for my family and friends and other people as well. It's kind of a home-court advantage in a way, but, at the same time, once the clock starts, once you get between the lines, it's all what we do and we control that."

Frank Kaminsky on his high growth spurt in high school: "I got into high school at 6' 2" and left high school at 6' 10". I had a lot of growing to do both physically and mentally. Sometimes I would just be running down the court and trip over my own feet because I was just getting awkward. And I think just growing into my body took a little bit of time because I did kind of have a later growth spurt than most people."

Ben Brust on Coach Ryan winning 700 games and earning national respect:
"It's very special to be a part of that, and I think the number 700 just shows if you're getting that many wins, you're doing a lot of things right. As players we'd be smart to listen to a guy who has won that many games because he's successful for a reason. You don't get 700 wins with luck. He's doing something right, and, you know, Coach doesn't care what other people think. He's the type of guy who wants to get stuff done and get it done the right way, and we're just looking to continue what we can do."

Coach Ryan on his philosophy: "I always tell young coaches when they're asking for advice, 'take a job at a place where you can coach for five years or 50 years.' Because if you take a job and you're always looking left, right, behind you, in front of you, if you're always looking in different directions, you're not going to do as good a job with the people who believed you in the first place and hired you. So, if you're hired to do a job, for a nickel, give them a dime's worth. That's been my philosophy that I learned from my parents. I'm sure they learned from their parents."

Coach Ryan on Nigel Hayes' humor: "I got a guy that beats me, and old line is obviously 'the early bird catches the worm.' As we're done with our video session, Nigel always tries to beat me to the court. I said, "good, Nigel, the early bird catches the worm."
"Coach, the second mouse always gets the cheese."

Big crowds greet the Badgers in Milwaukee

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The day before the first game of the NCAA tournament has become sort of old hat for the Wisconsin Badgers. For 16 straight years, UW has been taking part in press conferences, open locker rooms and public practices. Today was a little different though.

-- Photo Gallery

With the Badgers stationed in Milwaukee, the fan and media interest is at an all-time high. As shown in the picture above, even the Marquette locker room wasn't quite spacious enough to contain all the media hoping to get a word with the Badgers. And what is normally just a handful of fans on on a weekday afternoon, turned into a couple hundred in the stands as the Badgers took the floor at 1:30 p.m.

The fans that did come out were treated to an inside look at pretty much what happens every day at a normal Badgers practice. Start off with some full court passing, then some shooting drills. The highlight, as always, was the half-court shooting contest to end practice. Bronson Koenig made the first, Evan Anderson tied it up and Zak Showalter won it at the end. A Sam Dekker dunk sent the crowd home happy. Thanks to everyone who came out today!
 

Packer's Perspective: Frozen Four Bound

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Hey Badger Fans!

A big thank you to all those who came out and supported us this past weekend as we battled Harvard in the NCAA quarter finals. The team was blown away when we hit the ice for the start of the game and the crowd erupted. The atmosphere and energy in the building was amazing and unlike anything we have experienced yet in our new home and we are very grateful to all those who helped us from the other side of the glass.

The team was very pleased with our effort Saturday night and it was a special moment for the seniors to get a win in our final game on home ice. This week is sure to fly by quickly as we will practice the next few days and then head out early Wednesday for the Frozen Four. The team plans to prepare for the upcoming weekend the same way we have all season, and is excited for the opportunity to face off against Minnesota Friday night.

There are a number of banquets set to take place along with a few other events, but the sole focus of our team is the game Saturday night and working harder than we have all season to achieve our ultimate goal. I am proud of my teammates for all the hard work that has been put in this season. There were a lot of people who were skeptical about us being placed so highly along the way, but we battled hard Saturday night, earning the right to play this weekend and gaining confidence along the way.

The game Friday night is something we have looked forward too all year, now the time has come to prepare and go to work. We are proud of ourselves for reaching the tournament, but also recognize simply making the trip is not the goal we set for ourselves last September.

I encourage all those who cannot make the trip to tune in to the various outlets that will be available to act the action this weekend. It is set to be some of the best collegiate hockey this season and will be something hockey fans do not want to miss.

Again, my teammates and I want to thank all our fans and the community for being supportive throughout the season, and on behalf of the senior class, thank you to all those who have come out to cheer us on throughout our Badger career. We have traveled all across the United States, and there are no fans louder or more loyal than those who come out in Madison. Thank you also to our families who have been supportive not only throughout this season, but since day one, we share this journey with you! Be sure to check back in throughout the week as I will have a few more posts and some special interviews with teammates as we head out in search of our ultimate goal at the 2014 Frozen Four! Until next time, thanks for reading, and ON WISCONSIN!! 

- Madison


Badger Blog: Timing is everything

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After an impressive showing in Fullerton, Calif., at the Judi Garman Classic last weekend, head coach Yvette Healy praises assistant coach Randy Schneider's offensive leadership so far and previews the keys for continued success as the season moves forward.


Be on time: That's been the quote of the week from our offensive coordinator, assistant coach Randy Schneider. Timing is everything going into our final seven games before Big Ten play opens against Northwestern next weekend in Chicago. Our spring schedule has really challenged and prepared us to return to the Midwest and face some of the best competition in our region. We played our best softball of the season last weekend in California, with a big upset of #6/7 Arizona. That momentum is starting to build just in time, as we ramp up for the most competitive Big Ten field to date.


With our pitching staff, we're focusing on keeping hitters off balance, not letting them get comfortable. We have a lot of big offenses on the schedule in the weeks ahead. Our goal is to contain those hitters and teams. We know they'll get their hits yet we'll work to spread out the hits, not give teams extra base runners and pressure our opponents by eliminating the leadoff hitter each inning.

 

From an offensive standpoint, coach Schneider is emphasizing quality over quantity. It's about pressuring teams and getting key hits when it counts. I've been so impressed with Randy's offensive strategy and philosophy this season. It's not about getting more hits than our competition, it's about getting runners on base and creating pressure every inning. If you can do that, and come through with some timely hits when it counts, you have a chance to win games--even against the best opponents.


We still have some young players who have yet to emerge. Our message to those athletes is simple: work hard, study the game, continue to improve, believe in your skills and preparation and the success will come. That relentless optimism, focus and work ethic is what separates not only players, but people. If you can continue to work, train and believe, even when you're struggling, you'll be successful in life. We know there are three or four athletes on our team who have battled injuries and slow starts who could still be major factors in our team's success in the Big Ten and throughout this year. A slow start doesn't mean that success is impossible, it simply means we have more work to put in. Timing is everything.

Packer's Perspective: Ready for Harvard

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Spring Forward '14: Practice #5 Photo of the Day

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The Badgers were up and at it early on Wednesday, hitting the field inside the McClain Center for a practice session that got underway just before 6 a.m. in order to accommodate pre-spring break exams for a number of players. Darius Hillary and the defense spent a good portion of the session backed up against the end zone working to defend the Badgers' receivers.

- Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #5

Spring Forward '14: Andersen updates Badgers' progress



Head coach Gary Andersen met with members of the media following the Badgers' early-morning practice session Wednesday inside the McClain Center.

Among the highlights of Andersen's update:
- Assistant coach Chris Beatty has taken over as the Badgers' recruiting coordinator, replacing Thomas Hammock, who is now the running backs coach with the Baltimore Ravens

- Leon Jacobs has moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker, with Andersen noting the play of Jesse Hayes at OLB this spring as a reason for shifting Jacobs inside

Spring Forward '14: An inside look at the 'first quarter'



Spring football is underway, but it's hardly the first time the Badgers have been on the field since returning from the Capital One Bowl. How did they get to this point? Check out a behind-the-scenes look at winter conditioning for the Badgers, which was designed by the UW strength and conditioning staff to be a highly-competitive lead-in to spring ball.

- Wisconsin Football: First Quarter

Packer's Perspective: Time for NCAAs

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Spring Forward '14: Practice #4 Photo of the Day

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The offensive and defensive lines battled it out in a series of one-on-one drills during Monday's practice, including this head-to-head matchup between OL Kyle Costigan and DE Konrad Zagzebski (Brian Mason photo).

Spring Forward '14: Practice #3 Photo of the Day

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Running backs Corey Clement and Melvin Gordon are expected to spend most of spring on the sideline as less experienced players get the majority of the reps, which was exactly the case Saturday as the duo looked on at drills inside the McClain Center (Brian Lucas photo).

- Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #3

Spring Forward '14: In-depth look at Badgers in Varsity

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In this week's issue of Varsity magazine, Mike Lucas sits down with UW head coach Gary Andersen and coordinators Dave Aranda and Andy Ludwig for an in-depth at what to watch for during spring practice:
Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has a favorite phrase to describe the standard growing pains for everyone involved. "A year ago at this time, you were drinking water through a fire hose," he said. "Now, you're going about your business and getting ready for a great spring."

The operative word is "settled." Andersen used it, so did Ludwig. "We're so much more settled," Ludwig said. "The coaches know each other. The coaches know the players. The players know the coaches and the system is intact. The system is not changing. There's no new terminology to learn."

It's fair to say everything has settled down on both sides of the ball. That's what UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda was saying. "In the attitude, in the expectations and in the anticipation of what's coming -- in all of those things -- I just think we're ahead (this spring)," he said.
Read the full story here: Varsity: A Time for Change

Spring Forward '14: Practice #1 Photo of the Day

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Spring football is, more than anything, a learning opportunity and assistant coach Ben Strickland used sophomore-to-be Sojourn Shelton as a teaching tool for his fellow cornerbacks during Wednesday's first practice session (Brian Mason photo).

ON WISCONSIN