Stone reaches UW status

first_imgGREGORY DIXON/Herald photoAll year long, Lisa Stone has been aware of the University of Wisconsin’s overall athletic success around her. Now, she can proudly say her team has become one with its surroundings. This year, the UW men’s basketball team, football team and women’s hockey team all set new school records for most wins in a season. After Sunday’s come-from-behind victory against Virginia in the quarterfinals of the WNIT, Stone’s squad joins that elite group as the UW women’s basketball team tallied its record-setting 22nd win of the season. Stone couldn’t be any more pleased. “Breaking record after record and to be in the same sentence with men’s basketball and football and women’s hockey in terms of school record wins in a year — I’m very, very proud of our team for those accomplishments thus far,” Stone said at her press conference Monday. “I think [we’re] showing our fans here, locally, as well as on a national scene, that we’re making a breakthrough in the way we’re playing right now,” Stone said. Stone is especially happy for what she calls her “semi-senior class.” With no seniors on the team, juniors Jolene Anderson, Janese Banks and Danielle Ward have stepped up as leaders and have elevated their respective games during this memorable postseason run. “They’re my seniors on the floor,” Stone said. “I met with all three of them this morning already, and I said, ‘Let’s just keep having fun here.’ The longer we play, the better it is for all of us.” Instead of faltering after just missing out on an NCAA tournament bid, the Badgers continue to improve with each game as they strive for the WNIT title, a feat they last accomplished in 2000. “This is a tournament that’s perfect for our team right now,” Stone said. “They always talk about the NIT and the WNIT champion being the 65th best team, and however you look at it, we’re looking forward to a championship.” A championship, no doubt, would be the frosting on the proverbial cake that has been Wisconsin’s season, especially because of the stiff competition. “I think if you look at the teams that we’ve played and the conferences that they’ve come from … these are really good basketball teams,” Stone said. “You look at the power of this tournament, and, you know, we’re in the final four of that,” Stone continued. “You get this close; you can taste it. And we’re going to make the best of it and do our best on Wednesday.” Follow the leader As if UW sensation Jolene Anderson needed to prove something, she has stepped up her game during this tournament and led her teammates to three impressive victories. Prior to the beginning of the WNIT, Anderson’s career high was 29 points. In three postseason games, she has already scored 30 twice, while continuing to increase her school record for most points in a single season. “The fact that Jolene is expected to do what she does and continues to do it, I think it’s a great credit to her,” Stone said. “The pressure has been on her, and she hasn’t flinched. I mean, McGuire (Virginia) was in her shorts yesterday the whole game, and it just took a little bit of patience offensively on everybody’s part to find ways to get it to her. “You know, good players and solid players and the Alando Tuckers of the men’s, they’re used to doubles and triple teams.” Injury update In Sunday’s 84-78 victory over Virginia, freshman forward Mariah Dunham left the game for a short period of time to have her leg taped. Stone said she was worried but had a sigh of relief after she heard the news that Dunham was OK after the game. “Her status is great, and it was the best news I got after the game [Sunday],” Stone said. “I got a call from the training room … nothing will hold her out.” Stone added that Dunham will practice this week and play in Wednesday’s game. “She’ll practice,” Stone said. “She just tweaked her knee a little bit, but she’s OK, and she’ll start and be ready to go.”last_img

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