first_imgLaura Hill/The Badger HeraldThe Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s Big Ten Tournament ended much like the men’s basketball regular season – with a really sour taste. And each team hopes it will be removed by upcoming postseason play.The Badgers were delegated the sixth seed in the Big Ten Tournament despite tying for third in the conference, and the team found itself on the favorable side of the bracket with an opening round game versus the team with the worst record in the Big Ten in Illinois.Unfortunately, no matter how many things appeared to be in favor of the Badgers making a run to the championship game, they found themselves playing from behind after Illinois started the game with a ferocious pace. Wisconsin made its patented second half run, but it was not their day, losing 63-56.“Did our team take them lightly? No. Did we prepare with all of our might? Absolutely,” head coach Lisa Stone said. “The first five minutes of that game smacked us, and we didn’t respond. We responded in the second half, but we had dug our self too big a hole and that is the disappointing part.”So now, sitting with an overall record of 15-14, the Badgers are all but an announcement away from not playing in the NCAA Tournament but in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).Although nothing is official until Monday, the WNIT works a bit differently as teams apply to host tournament games. The way things appear to be working out, Wisconsin would host every game it plays throughout the tournament, including the championship game.For seniors the WNIT will certainly be a bittersweet experience because although they won’t be playing in the NCAA tournament they will get to play in front of their fans.“Having already thought that my last home game had come and gone, it is kind of cool to think that that possibility and that realization is still alive,” Alyssa Karel said. “Hopefully we can get some good fans and it can be a really cool environment.”The idea to play in the WNIT was not without a vote however. Following the loss to Illinois, Stone asked the team if this tournament was something they wanted to participate in. The answer was a unanimous yes.“We could not do it and just be done and that would be it,” injured senior Tara Steinbauer said. “I think that not only would that be sad for the seniors, but it would be selling [the team] short. In terms of development it gives these younger kids more experience more time to play against really highly competitive teams.”And that might really be why this tournament is so important. The future of the program will rest in the hands of a new class of players next year, and with Lin Zastrow, Emily Neal, Karel and Steinbauer graduating, it will be up to those younger players to continue building Wisconsin into an established program.“I am expecting [the returning players] to ramp it up this time of year because that carries over into summer training, into next year, and you hit the ground running next year versus ending right now and have this hangover effect,” Stone said.This tournament is paramount to a successful transition for players who are role players now but will be expected to be the stars next season, players like Anya Covington, Cassie Rochel, Taylor Wurtz and Jade Davis.“It is going to be a huge awakening for the younger players,” Davis said. “This is the start of a brand new season basically.”Sort of. Games won or lost during this tournament will still count towards this team’s record, and a banner could still be hung proclaiming these Badgers as champions.“We have an opportunity to finish the season with a championship,” Stone said. “It is not the tournament we set out to be in, but it is the one we are in, so we are going to put our best foot forward.”Wisconsin is looking at this tournament as a chance at redemption for a season full of rollercoaster highs and lows.“We all just want to prove that we are better than what this season shows,” Karel said. “The WNIT is not a tournament for schmucks; there are a lot of great teams and a lot of great competition in that tournament. By no means is it going to be a cakewalk.”Stone has success coaching in the WNIT, taking the Badgers to the championship round in the 2006-2007 campaign and recalls having already taken two types of teams to the tournament.“Teams either want to be in or they are in it but really don’t want to be because they are really mad about not being in the NCAA Tournament,” Stone said. “You will tell who those teams are in the first five minutes of the game. We will not be one of those teams.”last_img read more

first_imgThe 160 kilometre 4th stage includes four categorised climbs including the Category One ascent of Ballaghisheen Pass after 120k.Austria’s Clemens Frankhauser wears the leaders Yellow Jersey while best of the Irish is Eddie Dunbar in 4th, just 5 seconds off the lead.A number of breakaway attempts have been brought under control by the peloton – among those involved in one of the attacks was Tipperary Simon Ryan of the Limerick Mego Raw Cycles team.last_img