After a dominating bounceback win against UTRGV on Dec. 6, the Badgers (6-4) will look to carry over some aspects from that game to their last non-conference road game on Friday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler.
Last years’ matchup between the two teams saw an evenly contested game throughout the first 30 minutes of play, but it was the Badgers in the final 10 minutes of the game that capitalized down the stretch to get their first win of the season.
Although Butler’s record at 5-4 doesn’t jump off the page, three of those loses were expected as they came against two top-20 teams in No. 17 USF and No. 10 West Virginia, as well as against one of the top mid-major programs in Ball State.
In last year’s matchup, three players scored 52 points for the Bulldogs while the rest of the team only managed to score three points combined. Expect that not to change as through nine games, three players have been responsible for 67 percent of the Bulldogs’ point production this year.
One of the two biggest matchup issues that present themselves for the Badgers is 5’5” Whitney Jennings who after transferring from Iowa and sitting out last year has stepped into the Bulldogs’ starting five and hasn’t missed a beat all season. Jennings has been the axle to Butler’s offense as she has scored 19.2 points per game has 4.2 assists per game.
The second player to watch for is 6’1” Tori Schickel who averaged a double-double last season when she scored 14.6 points and grabbed 11.7 rebounds per game. This year has been no different as she has upped her point production to 16.2 points a game and seeing her rebound production barely dip to 11.3 rebounds a game.
The three players that will have to have big games to continues the Badgers’ best start to a season since the 2012-’13 campaign are freshman guard Niya Beverly, graduate-transfer center Kendall Shaw and sophomore forward Abby Laszewski.
Beverly, although just a freshman, has been one of the most heavily relied upon players on defense this season. As head coach Tsipis has said multiple times throughout the season, he tasks her with shutting down the opposing team’s best guard. It will be no different Friday night as she will be tasked with shutting down a prolific scoring guard in Jennings.
Expect 6’3” Abby Laszewski, who only played three minutes in last year’s game, to have an impact on this years contest as she has shown throughout the year to be a valuable post presence for a undersized Badger starting five. With the presence of Schickel downlow for the Bulldogs, Laszewski early on is going to have to establish herself on the block to make sure that Schickel doesn’t terrorize UW on the inside.
Lastly, Kendall Shaw she has proven to be a valuable asset coming of the bench in the last four of the last five games as she has been averaging five points, and a block a game.
If Laszewski gets into early foul trouble, expect to see Shaw’s impact on the game increase as she will be needed to shut Schickel down.
If the Badgers are to win against this Bulldog team, they have to establish dominance down low early, win the rebounding battle and also leave the first half with the lead.
Tipoff is at 6 p.m. in Indianapolis.