Jan. 6, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Wisconsin women’s basketball team has opened the Big Ten Conference 2-0 for the first time since 2001-02. But for the Badgers, there is still a lot of season to play.
“First of all, I’m certainly proud of our team and our start, but it is only a start,” said Coach Lisa Stone at Monday’s news conference. “We’re nowhere near where we need to be at. We’re still a little loose with the ball at times, but our turnovers are getting better. Our rotation and our consistency in the offensive end has been certainly encouraging. “
Wisconsin has tallied 15-or-fewer turnovers in the last three games and it had four players score in double figures the last two games. But the UW will need one of the best games of the season tonight as it faces its second top-25 team of the season.
The Badgers (7-7 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) take a five-game winning streak, the longest of the season, into East Lansing, Mich., tonight when they take on 11th-ranked Michigan State (13-1, 1-0). Tip-off is at 6 p.m. CT from the Breslin Center.
UW will face a different Spartan team this season, one without 6-foot-9-inch post Allyssa DeHaan and one that Wisconsin has defeated the last four meetings.
“They’re a very, very physical team and so are we, so it’s usually a slug match in there,” said Stone. “They’re a different team than last year and they’re playing a little differently. They’re more aggressive in their man-to-man defense, less zone, more man-to-man.
“We’ve got to go on the road and impose our will once again and taking care of the basketball is huge, because our turnovers have an effect on our defense. Obviously it has an effect on your offense, but more importantly it’s on the defensive end, and they’re solid.”
The Spartans are led by Kalisha Keane, a 6-1 senior forward, who averages 16.8 points per game. Junior Lykendra Johnson, a 6-1 forward, adds 9.9 points and senior Brittney Thomas, a 5-10 guard, chips in 8.2 points per game. Johnson leads the team with 7.0 rebounds per contest.
MSU is on an 11-game winning streak with its only loss this season coming to then-No. 2 Baylor on Nov. 19. Rebounding is a key to the Spartans winning ways as they average 41.1 rebounds per game and also steal the ball 11.8 times per game.
“We’ve got to stay focused on the next game,” said Stone. ”Let’s just take care of Wisconsin and keep winning games in the Big Ten. And our strength of schedule, our RPI will help us certainly. We realize we’re a different team than we were back in nonconference.
“There’s different things that have happened, but it is the growth that our team has made, the commitment they’ve made to each other, keeping people healthy and fresh and focused for the Big Ten.”