Stone earns 1st postseason bid at UW

first_imgGREG DIXON/Herald photoWith a 19-12 overall record, including a 7-9 record in the Big Ten, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team will be headed to the WNIT tournament, which begins this week. Finishing with their best season since 2001-02, the Badgers were rewarded with postseason play and a first-round bye. Although they did not get a ticket to the NCAA Tournament, the fact that they will still be playing after the regular season is an accomplishment for the young Wisconsin team. “I’m very excited,” Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone said. “The fact that my team is playing postseason, we’re very thrilled. … This team deserves it. They’ve worked very, very hard.” Only three Big Ten teams received NCAA tournament bids. Purdue, who won the Big Ten Tournament, was given a No. 2 seed. Ohio State, who won the regular season conference title, is a No. 4 seed, and the Michigan State Spartans were given a No. 5 seed. Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana will also play in the 48-team WNIT. Currently up in the air are both the date and opponent for the Badgers’ first game of the tournament. They will take on the winner of the Arkansas State-Murray State game, which will take place on Thursday in Arkansas. The last time the Badgers were in the WNIT tournament was 2000, when they won the tournament championship, beating Florida in the finals. The tournament will mark the first chance at postseason play for the entire Badger squad. Knowing that each game could be their last adds extra incentive to every game. “It’s just one game, and you could be done,” junior guard Jolene Anderson said. “If you lose one game, there goes your season. We just have to go in with the same mentality. Whoever we play, it doesn’t matter. We just have to think of it as the start of a new season.” Wisconsin’s first game in the tournament could potentially be played at the Kohl Center, where UW is 13-3 this season, but the team will not know until Thursday or Friday after the Arkansas State-Murray State game. The time of the game will also not be decided until later in the week, but it will most likely take place on Saturday or Sunday. The ability to host the game in Madison would provide an added benefit for the Badgers. “It would definitely give us a home-court advantage,” Anderson said. “It would just be great for our fan base to come out and watch us again, playing in the Kohl Center for the (W)NIT. It would be good for our families coming out, too.” “I feel pretty confident that it will be at home,” Stone said. “What day and what venue is what we’re waiting on. … There’s a lot of things that go into the puzzle.” With the entire team returning next year, in addition to three new recruits, there is no question that the team will set the bar high for next season. “We have three great recruits coming in next year to help us improve on where our season ends up this year,” Anderson said. “[Now that we’ve made] it to the (W)NIT, we’ve got to set our goal higher to the NCAA. That’s just something we have to work for each and every day.” “This is a tremendous reward for a team that’s earned its way into postseason play,” Stone said. “The more games the better. We hope that we can do really well in the tournament.”last_img