Last season, the Wisconsin women's basketball team won just five regular season games away from the Kohl Center. This Friday night, the Badgers have a chance to eclipse last season's road victory total with a win over Marquette. That game also marks the conclusion to a brutal 15-day, six-game road trip for the team.
""It's been probably one of the toughest preseason schedules that we've had,"" head coach Lisa Stone said.
You won't find anyone on the team complaining though. In fact, the Badgers appear to have embraced the road, taking four out of five on this current trip. Wisconsin defeated three teams in three days in Oregon at the World Vision Invitational Tournament before downing North Carolina State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last Thursday.
""I think we have a better road mentality this year,"" junior forward Tara Steinbauer said. ""I think we've really focused in on every game at hand.""
Although the team's Big Ten season opener against No. 3 Ohio State ended in disappointment, the Badgers' excellent play through the first half of that game has definitely given the team a measure of confidence.
""I definitely think we can hang with every team we play,"" Steinbauer added.
Wisconsin will carry that confidence into the Maguire Center Friday night when they play Marquette, the third and final of their Division I in-state rivals. Following a sweep of the state last season, Wisconsin is 1-1 against in-state foes in 2009. The team took care of UW-Milwaukee on the road in November before losing to UW-Green Bay in a heartbreaker at the Kohl Center.
The Badgers and Golden Eagles last faced each other in December, 2008. Wisconsin dismantled Marquette in that game, winning 77-48 in Madison. The Badgers lead the all-time series between the two teams, 9-7.
The Golden Eagles come in to the contest with a 5-2 record on the season. The team is coming off an 81-41 thrashing of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The Marquette women are led by sophomore Jessica Pachko, who averages 11.1 points per game. Pachko is also shooting 45.3 percent on the season, and leads the team in rebounds per game with 7.4. Additionally, senior Lauren Thomas-Johnson averages 10.3 points per game for the Golden Eagles.
However, Stone is not going to focus on what happened last year, or what either team has done so far this season.
""Anytime you play anyone in the state, you throw out the records,"" she said.
Stone is extremely pleased with the way her team has played on defense this season. The Badgers have allowed their opponents an average of just 55.1 points per game. Her squad will have to continue that tough mentality as they prepare to head into the Big Ten season.
So far, however, Stone is pleased.
""Our team has definitely shown some toughness, some resiliency, just an amazing ability to overcome some tough situations,"" she said.
Wisconsin faces off against Marquette 7 p.m. Friday at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee. After that, the team returns to the Kohl center Sunday for their first home match in over two weeks as they face off against SIU Edwardsville at 4 p.m. A valid student ID will get you into Sunday's game for free, and the first 75 students in attendance will receive a voucher for a free hot dog and soda.