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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Press Conference: Wisconsin teams look to maintain weekend successes

The Badgers are all coming off a high note as they head into their upcoming games. The men’s and women’s basketball teams hope to use their latest conference victories as fuel to improve. The men’s hockey team is looking to avenge a pair of losses against Penn State earlier this season and the women’s hockey team looks to repeat victories against Minnesota Duluth.

Men’s basketball

Wisconsin (7-1 Big Ten, 19-2 overall) will host the Indiana Hoosiers Feb. 2 at the Kohl Center. The Badgers are coming off a big win on the road against Iowa, but are still looking for more.

“Your work is never done, and your fun is never done,” said head coach Bo Ryan.

Taking on a talented Indiana roster, with names like Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr., Ryan looks for his Badgers to contain these players. Wisconsin hopes to counter with its own talent, including the many players who have stepped up in the absence of Traevon Jackson.

Bronson Koenig has consistently played well since taking the starting point guard role. Coming off the bench, Zak Showalter has also contributed to the team.

“He knows we put guys on the floor to add so if you can do it with a rebound or taking a charge, if you can do it with making a play offensively, setting a teammate up, and when you are open knocking down the shot,” Ryan said of Showalter. “So we don’t make it real complicated, we’re just looking for addition, not subtraction.”

Women’s hockey

The Badgers (16-4-2 WCHA, 21-4-3 overall) are also looking forward to an exciting matchup this weekend in a series against Minnesota Duluth. Wisconsin, coming off a series sweep against Minnesota State, looks to improve its power play and find the net more as it takes on the Bulldogs at LaBahn Arena this Friday and Saturday.

While winning in decisive fashion in their first meetings against Minnesota Duluth, 4-1 and 6-2, the Badgers expect this series to be more competitive and challenging.

“When we were up there in October, both teams were trying to get their feet wet in regards to what type of team they’re going to be, how they came out of their short training camp,” said head coach Mark Johnson. “They’re a much better team today than they were in October.”

Men’s hockey

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Wisconsin (0-6-2 Big Ten, 2-16-4 overall) also looks to use momentum from its shootout victory against Minnesota Saturday night, after falling 7-5 to the Gophers Friday night. UW could have evened the series out Saturday, but allowed a game-tying goal with two seconds left in regulation.

Now the Badgers head to Penn State this weekend to play the Nittany Lions for the second series of the year against these teams. After losing 5-2 and 4-2 in their first meetings, Wisconsin hopes to improve from its last performance.

“We are at a different place than we were then and looking forward to going back and seeing what we can do against them,” said head coach Mike Eaves.

The Badgers have had difficulties tallying wins this season, and Eaves attributes the Badgers struggles to the youngness of the team.

“It’s like a farmer planting a field with new seeds,” Eaves said. “You can go out there every day and see if they’ve grown at all but it takes time.”

The Badgers hope to see their freshmen continue to grow as they head into this series hungry for their first win since Jan. 3.

Women’s basketball

The Badgers (4-7 Big Ten, 8-13 overall) look to keep their momentum going as they head into their next game after defeating Illinois 73-62 this past Saturday. After coming off this road win, the Badgers hope to use that energy and stay on the winning path.

“It gives you confidence, especially when you go on the road and get a win,” said head coach Bobbie Kelsey. “I think that it gives you more confidence than when you are at home.”

Badger players have been stepping up on the team in the absence of Michala Johnson, particularly junior guard Nicole Bauman has had big performances in the past few games.

She had a career-high 31 points against Ohio State last week, setting a new school record for 3-pointers in a game (by either the men’s or women’s team) by sinking eight shots from long distance. She also added 21 points in the victory against Illinois.

“Whatever has gotten into her I would like to see sink into some of the others on the team,” Kelsey said.

Wisconsin hopes Bauman’s success is contagious in its upcoming matchup against Iowa. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Kohl Center. It’s the annual “Think Pink” game to support cancer awareness and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

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