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Stone happy with freshman Wurtz, UW’s defense

first_imgAfter Sunday’s 106-39 exhibition rout over Division III opponent UW-Oshkosh, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team is ready to begin the 2009-10 regular season. The Badgers will face the North Dakota Fighting Sioux this Sunday at the Kohl Center for the first time in program history.“We’re certainly looking forward to the start of the season,” Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone said in her Monday press conference. “Yesterday, we had the exhibition game and got to put the uniforms on for the first time, got our freshmen out there to be in front of the lights and their fans and their families. I thought we did a nice job, stayed fairly disciplined. What I was most encouraged with was the fact that we only had nine turnovers in 40 minutes.”In Sunday’s triumph over Oshkosh, Stone’s new four-out, one-in motion offense was on display as the Badgers shot 62.5 percent from the field and had five players in double figures. Junior forward Tara Steinbauer led the way with 25 points on 12-13 shooting, while senior guard Rae Lin D’Alie contributed 19 points and six assists.Badger defense strong from the startDespite the lopsided final score, Stone was able to sufficiently assess where her team is at heading into Sunday’s opener.“You find out a lot about your team, actually,” Stone said of measuring her team after such a victory. “Our defense made it very difficult for Oshkosh to score, but there’s still things you can take. We looked at the film today and for a period of time in the second half, we weren’t closing out as hard as we could, we got a little lazy on the weak side, and it’s hard for your team to stay focused but that was the challenge.”The Badger defense was definitely at its best, as Oshkosh was unable to score its first field goal for almost 14 minutes. Wisconsin forced 32 turnovers and had 22 steals, including five by sophomore forward and tri-captain Anya Covington, as well as four by freshman guard Taylor Wurtz.“Anya Covington is a natural-born leader,” Stone said. “She has been a leader her entire life, both in the classroom, the community and on the court. As a freshman, [she] was not afraid to speak up in a team meeting, was not afraid to come to coaches with concerns or maybe wanting to get some help or try improve her game or how to make the team better. She earned the respect of her teammates as a freshman.”Freshman Wurtz has an impressive debutStone also expressed enthusiasm about the play of Wurtz, who was well thought of as the 89th-ranked player nationally by HoopGurlz — ESPN.com’s women’s college basketball forum — coming out of Ripon High School in Ripon, Wis. Listed as 6-foot, Wurtz boasts solid size for a Big Ten guard, which was on definite display against Oshkosh.Aside from her stellar defense, Wurtz scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds in an impressive 21 minutes of playing time. Along with other freshman guards Catie O’Leary and Aly Bucierka, Wurtz will be counted on to provide the Badgers with an upbeat, youthful presence.“She is a freshman, she has a lot to learn, and it was good to see her be able to play the number of minutes she did in different positions and not turn it over,” Stone said. “[Wurtz] shot the ball fairly well, you saw her get an offensive board, hit a three, get out in transition; she was our leading rebounder yesterday. Her versatility is definitely something that we’re going to lean on. We were injured in the post yesterday; we only had three post player rotations, so you’ll see her rotate inside and outside … if we’re facing a team maybe with a big point guard, that matches up very nice. If we’re facing a team with an athletic power forward, Taylor matches up very well.”last_img

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