Despite remaining winless in Big Ten play, freshman guard Suzanne Gilreath is focused on finding the silver lining.
The Wisconsin guard believes keeping the atmosphere light and having fun with the season will be the key to this young team’s success.
After compiling a record of 0-6 in Big Ten play and 5-14 overall, Wisconsin is struggling each day to find answers. Whether those answers come from new head coach Jonathan Tsipis, key players Cayla McMorris or Avyanna Young or even freshmen averaging under 15 minutes per game, something needs to click.
“We keep it fun at all times,” sharp-shooting Suzanne Gilreath said about the team atmosphere. “Of course there are times we need to be serious and get to work, but being a student-athlete isn’t easy, so we have fun.”
Gilreath is currently averaging 12.2 points per game, fourth on the team, and has a 35 percent 3-point percentage, while playing just over half the amount of minutes as the three women above her.
The Brooklyn Park, Minn. native was the leading scorer in Wisconsin’s loss to ranked Ohio State this past Thursday, dumping in 15 points. Scoring isn’t a foreign concept to the guard. Earlier in the year, in an upset over UW-Green Bay, Gilreath knocked down five 3-pointers and led the Badgers with 17 points.
“If I’m given a shot, I know I’m going to take it,” said Gilreath. “I expect my shots to go in and I expect to score so it’s [coming off the bench] really about knowing my role and providing that spark.”
The team now has their sights set on Michigan State (3-4 Big Ten, 13-7 overall), who they play this Wednesday at home. They then continue their home stand by welcoming Indiana (3-3, 13-6) to the Kohl Center Sunday. Both Michigan State and Indiana have found wins against teams that beat Wisconsin. Michigan State defeated Ohio State, 94-75, and the Hoosiers earned a win over Penn State, 89-70.
Converting some games into wins has proven difficult for Wisconsin, but Gilreath is still optimistic about achieving the team’s simple goal.
“Get some wins on our record,” she said. “We know we can do it, we have the skill set. We just have to trust the process. We need to go through struggle to get to that winning level.”
The five-foot-four guard definitely knows what is expected of her and has been willing and ready to step up when needed. Gilreath has been seeing plenty of the floor all season, but lately has been entering in high-pressure situations ready to do what she has been called upon to do.
“When you come off the bench you have to be ready at all times,” Gilreath said. “I have to be ready to shoot, score or play hard defense. There isn’t one specific thing I try to do. Just being ready whenever they call your name.”
Surrounded by a group of freshmen who are all averaging double-digit minutes per game, Wisconsin has the group to put something special together in the future. Mixed with point guards Kendra Van Leeuwen and Roichelle Marble, as well as forward Courtney Fredrickson and guard Gabby Gregory, the Badgers have a core group of athletes for the future.
It may not be this season, but Gilreath knows if the team continues to work, keeps it light and trusts the process they can be great in the future. Maybe they can even develop a roster like the Golden State Warriors and build a “big four”.
After all, Gilreath said she is most like Klay Thompson or Steph Curry, two players on that so-called super team.
And even in the midst of a dismal season on a struggling, young team, Gilreath still believes in herself and the team.
“I know the offense is going to come, so I need to do what I can with my speed and skill set.”