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Badgers patiently await postseason fate

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March 13, 2010

MADISON – Patience is defined as the capacity for waiting; the ability to endure waiting, delay or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. Its synonyms include endurance, tolerance and persistence.

The Wisconsin women’s basketball team just needs to be patient.

After falling to then-No. 10 Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal round last Saturday, the Badgers have already waited one full week in anticipation of learning their postseason fate.

Just a few more days now.

On Monday, the NCAA will release the 2010 tournament field live on ESPN at 6 p.m.

Two days might not sound like a long time, but for a team that last advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2002, it could feel like a lifetime. The No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region, Wisconsin fell to Arizona State 73-70 in the 2002 NCAA First Round in Nashville, Tenn.

Wisconsin has not appeared in the NCAA postseason under head coach Lisa Stone.

In fact, virtually no one who was associated with the 2002 team remains a part of the UW basketball program. Stone took over the reins from former Badger head coach Jane Albright in March 2003; the rest of the coaching and administrative staffs have seen turnover since 2002 as well. All of the players from the 2002 team moved on by the 2005-06 season.

Excitement and anticipation for the unknown make waiting that much more difficult for the 2010 Badgers. However, Wisconsin is no stranger to postseason play.

The Badgers have played in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) in each of the last three seasons, including a championship game appearance in 2007 when UW fell at Wyoming 72-56.

While the team has had success and certainly enjoyed competing in the WNIT, the Badgers have their sights set on the bigger prize this year – an NCAA Tournament appearance.

In just two more days, Wisconsin will know its fate.

Despite the program’s seven-year absence from the NCAA postseason and this year’s squad potential entrance into unfamiliar territory, the Badgers have already proven that they are ready for the task. Most recently, Wisconsin’s battle with Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament showcased that the team is capable of playing with the nation’s best. The Badgers led the Buckeyes for nearly the entire game before getting into foul trouble and watching their lead diminish by way of OSU free throws.

Still, the team’s 20 wins this season mark the eighth 20-win season in program history and the second under Stone. Similarly, 10 Big Ten wins is UW’s best Big Ten record since Stone took over the program. Wisconsin’s third-place finish in the Big Ten equal its second-best conference place ever as well.

In addition, Stone was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year by league coaches this season. Junior Alyssa Karel earned second-team All-Big Ten honors by both media and coaches, and senior Rae Lin D’Alie was a third-team pick by media.

No matter what a team has been through over the course of a season, enduring a nine-day break before learning its postseason fate can be excruciating. Fortunately for Wisconsin, a disciplined team built around tenacious defense, patience is one of its strongest assets.

The Badgers only need to exercise their patience for two more days. After 31 games this season – and the last seven seasons – two more days does not sound quite so difficult.

Patience, Badgers, patience.

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