Badger coaches preview second half of regular season play
While head coach Jonathan Tsipis and the Badgers had a much improved non-conference record, they have struggled early-on in conference play.Image By: Alayna Truttmann
Head coach Greg Gard didn’t have many complaints at Monday’s press conference following an excellent week that saw the Badgers take down two Big Ten opponents. They outlasted Michigan last Tuesday and squeaked out a tough win in overtime against Minnesota on Saturday.
Gard was complimentary of Minnesota’s improvement from last season and seemed very satisfied with the play of the Badgers.
“To find a way to come out on top was a good test for our guys,” Gard said. “The past week has tested us in multiple ways and I think it has helped us grow and toughened us a little bit.”
Looking forward to the Badgers’ game against Penn State, Gard expects the team to build on the momentum it gathered last week.
Gard commended the cohesive play of the Nittany Lions; they have received contributions from all players, whereas in seasons past they have relied on one player to score a large chunk of their points. Specifically, two players the Badgers will be watching out for are freshmen Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens. The duo is averaging 11.4 and 11.6 points per game, respectively.
After opening up the Big Ten schedule with six-straight losses, head coach Jonathan Tsipis was displeased with his team’s performance to date.
“We’re not where we want to be at this point,” he said.
However, Tsipis pointed out a silver lining in the solace of returning home after playing four of the last five games on the road. He also found encouragement in the Badgers’ recent game against conference powerhouse Ohio State.
“As far as executing a game plan and taking away other people’s strengths, that was the best we have been in Big Ten play,” Tsipis said.
This week the Badgers will be hosting Michigan State and Indiana, two teams Tsipis said were very talented. The Spartans will be coming into Madison hoping to halt a three-game skid.
Tsipis and the Badgers will have their hands full trying to contain senior guard Tori Jankoska, who is averaging over 20 points per game to go along with 5.0 assists and 7.5 rebounds.
Last week, the men’s hockey team split its series with the No. 6 Gophers, dropping the first in overtime and coming back the next day for a nice statement win. In that second matchup, the Badgers found 23 times in the second period.
Coach Tony Granato was ecstatic about the depth of his team.
“From a coaching perspective, you want to be in a position to say, ‘Who do I sit out?’” Granato said. “We have so many guys that are a value to our team.”
Coming up in the Badger’s schedule is a series against Ohio State, with the second game set to be played at Madison Square Garden in New York. Granato, who played for the New York Rangers at the start of his NHL career, remembers the Garden fondly.
“I’ve got a lot of great memories there; I loved it,” he said.
Granato knows playing at Madison Square Garden is a big deal for his players and hopes that they keep that memory for a long time.
Sophomore captain Luke Kunin will be looking to extend his point streak to seven-consecutive games against the Buckeyes this Thursday in Columbus.
The No. 1-ranked team in the country, the Badgers have won eight-straight games and outscored their opponents 41-6 over that span.
In head coach Mark Johnson’s eyes, the key to their close victory over North Dakota was winning the 50-50 battles in the third period.
Johnson has a penchant for disagreeing with referees, and he was quick to point it out after a physical series.
“At the beginning of the game I told myself, ‘I’m going to my happy place today, I’m not going to be angry at the referees,’” he said. “That lasted about three minutes.”
Friday night, Minnesota State will visit LaBahn Arena for the first game of a two-part series. Senior captain Sydney McKibbon will try to continue her recent stellar play after contributing a pair of goals in Sunday afternoon’s game.
Head coach Barry Davis is optimistic looking ahead to the next week for the Badgers. They will be facing a No. 2-ranked Penn State squad that features two ranked wrestlers and has yet to lose a match.
“It’s a big weekend for us and a great chance for some of the guys to move up in the rankings,” Davis said.
Overall, the head coach is happy with the way the season has gone for the Badgers.
“The season is going well. Right now we have a full lineup, which we did not have at the beginning of the season,” Davis said.
He also alluded to the need for more consistency out of his team, which has dropped the last three matches of Big Ten play after opening up the season with three wins against non-conference opponents.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter