Jan. 12, 2011
MADISON, Wis. - It seems just like yesterday that the Wisconsin women's basketball team was in West Lafayette, Ind., to play Purdue. Actually, it was almost two weeks ago but after winning in Mackey Arena for the first time since 1984, the Badgers are looking for their first sweep of Purdue since the early 80s.
"(We're) looking forward to playing Purdue," said UW coach Lisa Stone at a news conference Monday. "(We're) pretty fresh off the scouting report (and) we won down there for the first time since 1984. That has to be something that we can certainly use to our advantage."
Wisconsin (8-8 overall, 3-1 Big Ten) and Purdue (11-5, 2-2) tip off on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. inside the Kohl Center. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network with Dan Kelly and Mary Murphy, the former UW head coach, providing the commentary.
It won't be easy to complete the first sweep of the Boilermakers since 1984. Wisconsin won two-out-of-three games vs. Purdue last season but prior to that, the Boilers had won 13 straight meetings.
"Purdue's a really good team," said Stone. " ... they're physical, they're well coached. And the fact that we went in there and won will be something that will fuel their energy as well. "
But again, they're familiar with us, we're familiar with them. It's going to be a possession game. A key for us is taking care of the basketball, and boxing out and getting the boards. Those are going to be two keys for Thursday's game."
The Badgers have been taking care of the ball, tallying 15-or-fewer turnovers per game over their last four games. But Wisconsin has struggled with rebounds its last two games, getting out rebounded 85-46.
Part of the season for the lack of rebounding was the absence of Lin Zastrow at Michigan State. UW lost at East Lansing 62-43 on Jan. 6 and was outrebounded 45-21, playing without the 6-foot-4-inch post. The Badgers are 8-4 when Zastrow plays but 0-4 when she is out.
"But the bottom line for us is to stay healthy," said Stone. "It's quite imperative that when we have Lin Zastrow playing for us, we're a better team. Our game at Michigan State last week without Lin put our backs against the wall. But our kids have played hard. We're doing some good things. We still have a lot to work on. But it's the Big Ten season and we're off to a good start."
Wisconsin is off to a 3-1 start in the Big Ten, currently in second place all alone and trailing only No. 11 Michigan State. Penn State is in third place at 2-1 while Purdue is tied with Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern in fourth place at 2-2.
"We've got to stay focused on the next game and just keep taking care of ourselves, because the conference is up for grabs," said Stone of the Big Ten race. "You've got Ohio State already with two losses, Iowa with a couple losses. It's wide open out there. And teams that stay healthy, stay together, overcome adversity and play well at the right time of year, they're going to be the teams at the top in the end."