GREGORY DIXON/Herald photoWhen a team shoots 50 percent from the field and forces 34 turnovers on defense, it’s pretty hard to lose.That’s what happened Sunday afternoon as the University of Wisconsin’s women’s basketball team crushed Division II opponent Winona State 87-37 at the Kohl Center. The win ended the Badgers’ short-lived preseason, in which they finished a perfect 2-0.The Badgers dominated all facets of the game. They jumped out to an early 12-8 lead, followed by a 24-0 run that lasted just under 10 minutes. Winona State guard Shelby Krueger broke up the scoring drought with a pair of free throws. The Warriors didn’t hit a field goal for another four minutes.Badgers forward Danielle Ward had a game-high 21 points while shooting 9-of-11 from the field. She also chipped in on the glass with eight rebounds.Ward was not the only Badger post player to put up impressive numbers Sunday. Caitlin Gibson, Brittany Heins, and Mariah Dunham had 12, 11, and eight points respectively.”The post play has arrived,” UW head coach Lisa Stone said excitedly. “When you have [three] post players in double figures, that’s great.””[Danielle] is a quick, unbelievably fast, athletic post, and I’m more of a big, ‘sit on the block, muscle my way around’-type of post,” Gibson said.This tandem, along with Heins coming off the bench, should be a lethal combination throughout the season.Stone did say she will entertain the idea of putting all three on the court at the same time.Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Jolene Anderson had a modest eight points, but added six assists in only 24 minutes.”Jolene was very unselfish today and did a great job sharing the ball,” Stone said.Freshman Rae Lin D’Alie played well both offensively (6 points, 3 assists) and defensively (2 steals) in a starting role.The 5-foot-3 point guard applied intense on-ball pressure all game long, forcing countless Warrior turnovers, which is why Stone inserted her in the starting lineup before Thursday’s first preseason game.D’Alie is one of many impressive newcomers on this Badger squad, but the team’s depth is making it hard for Stone to solidify a consistent rotation.”I like our starting lineup right now,” Stone said. “It may be the same, and it may change.”Though a 50-point blowout can lift a team’s confidence, Stone knows her team has a lot of work to do, especially from the free-throw line, where they shot just 60 percent.However, Stone was not the only coach impressed with the Badgers’ play on Sunday. Warriors head coach Scott Ballard had no answers for the onslaught of cardinal and white.”I thought [the Badgers’] depth is probably better than a lot of people might think,” he said.Along with forcing 34 turnovers, the Badger defense compiled 19 steals and two blocks, while allowing the Warriors to grab only eight offensive rebounds.”We really focused on ball pressure and just denying reversal passes,” Gibson added. “That was really crucial for our defense. That’s how we’re going to break teams down.”Despite being on the losing end of such a lopsided score, Ballard sees some positives from the trip to Madison.”It was a great experience to come to the Kohl Center [and play in a] hostile environment,” he said.
Senior guard Trevon Hughes and the Wisconsin Badgers escaped with a win Wednesday night at the Kohl Center, thanks in large part to the 20-point performance by Hughes. The native of Queens, N.Y., helped UW rally past the Wolverines with 16 second-half points.[/media-credit]When the final horn sounded Wednesday night at the Kohl Center, the scoreboard read 54-48 in favor of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team — and thankfully for the Badgers, that is the only stat that matters.Playing its ugliest game of the season so far, UW finished with several offensive statistics that would make James Naismith blush.Wisconsin shot 34 percent from the floor and a cool 16 percent from beyond the arc. The Badgers didn’t score their first points until six minutes had bled in the game, and they ended the half with a mere 18 points. Calling this matchup a Big Ten slugfest would be putting it kindly.Still, Wisconsin came out with a “W” on the left-hand side of the column due in large part to a resiliency that has marked Bo Ryan’s teams for the past nine years.“I think it just shows a lot about our team,” UW’s only true big man to play, Keaton Nankivil said. “We have a setback with Jon (Leuer’s wrist injury), but we are not the kind of team to make excuses… even when we don’t shoot well, we still do a lot of stuff well that puts us in position to win and that is the way Coach coaches us.”Making up for the dreadful shooting night was Wisconsin’s intelligent play. For the game UW only turned the ball over five times, including just once in the second half. And with the outside shots not falling — or even coming close in the case of two ill-advised attempts from Tim Jarmusz — the Badgers worked their way to the free throw line and connected on 14 of 17 attempts. Those 14 makes were more than Michigan had attempts.“That is how you get it done. When you are shooting a poor percentage you need to be making free throws and you need to not turn the ball over,” Ryan said. “That is the only way you have a chance, when those two things happen.”Wisconsin started the game missing its first seven shots — six of which were three pointers — but managed to stay in the game by only allowing Michigan to score six points.According to Ryan, the six minute stretch to open the game doesn’t bother him because all teams go through scoreless bouts some time during the course of play.“If you are not hitting shots it’s called a slow start,” Ryan said.“In every game there are little spells. We have talked about this a million times. It could have been with five minutes to go in the game… in this case it happened early.”While the Badgers’ scoring was balanced, with three different players reaching double figures and seven guys getting at least one bucket for the game, Michigan’s attack was based almost solely on getting DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris shots.Unfortunately for the Wolverines, only one half of that combo was clicking.Sims finished the game with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, but Harris was held to 11 points — eight below his season average — and only reached the charity stripe once.While a lot of credit can be given to Jarmusz for keeping the athletic guard in front of him, Michigan coach Jim Beilein thought some of the trouble was Harris simply missing makeable shots.“[Wisconsin] always has a guy that can do that, but I do think several times Manny got a couple of good looks,” he said. “Tim is a good defender but I’m sure Manny would want to have some of those shots back.”As Badger fans should be used to seeing by now, the ball was in Trevon Hughes’ hands down the stretch, and the senior guard did not disappoint.Finishing the game with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, UW’s leading scorer poured in eight points over the final five minutes, including a backbreaking layup with the shot clock about to expire.“I had to get a spark and get something going,” Hughes said. “I had to stay aggressive, I know my teammates feed off of that.”Playing in the third straight game without Leuer, the Badgers attempted 24 three-point attempts to only 28 two-point field goals. In this three-game stretch, nearly 50 percent of UW’s shots have come from beyond the arc, and the team has only averaged 55 points a game.With a hint of stubbornness in his voice, though, Ryan said the team has no plan to change how they are playing — saying in effect, they will continue to take what the defense gives them.“Who knows?” Ryan said about the three-point attempts. “We are just going to keep finding ways. It could be ten the next time, it could be 40 the next time.”
Former Ghana FA boss Nana Sam Brew-Buttler was the highest individual purchaser of the new ‘tornado’ footballs launched by Stephen Appiah on Monday.The new football which was designed in honour of the ex-Black Stars captain received massive endorsements at its launch in a colourful ceremony held at the residence of the British High Commissioner.The balls are hand-made by Ghanaians with disability working for the Alive and Kicking Company based in Ghana.The ball is manufactured with locally acquired materials which is in tandem with the government’s policy to promote made in Ghana goods.Former GFA chairman Nana Sam Brew-Buttler beat all gathered to purchase 500 pieces of the balls launched on Monday evening.Other invited guests including Henry Quuashie (Hencook) Larry Opare Otoo (Primeval Media), Kurt Okraku (Dreams FC) and award-winning actor Chris Attoh also took turns to purchase the balls at the launch. Nestle Milo also purchased 2000 pieces of the balls to be used for their annual juvenile championships which has Stephen Appiah as an ambassador.Parts of the proceeds to be realized from the sales of the new balls christened ‘tornado’ – the nickname of the ex Juventus star – will go into The Stephen Appiah Foundation to finance its various social intervention projects.The ‘Tornado’ will offer more jobs to GhanaiansThe continued patronage of the ‘tornado’ will also help create more job opportunities for Ghanaians especially the ones living with disability. Appiah, who captained the Black Stars to its first World Cup appearance in 2006 in Germany says the ‘tornado’ represented one major way of giving back to the society that propelled him to stardom.“Today I stand before you, humbled by my little achievement as a former skipper of the senior national team, the Black Stars of Ghana and also a former footballer who by the grace of God tasted football both locally and at the international level,” Appiah who also played for Turkish giants Fernerbahce said.“This little achievement did not come because I am Stephen Appiah, but it came because throughout my life as a young boy and as a footballer, I enjoyed the support of many people who came my way.“I enjoyed support from my family, coaches who made sure I made it to the top, doctors who treated me to get back on my feet anytime I got injured and most importantly Ghanaians all over the globe who prayed for me, wished me well, supported me and were always there for me both on and off the pitch.“Amongst these well-wishers and supporters were the underprivileged, some of whom walked many miles and used their little income they had to pay gate fees just to support us and wish us well. “Amongst these supporters also included the many physically challenged who usually forget their enormous pain and disability to cheer us onto victory.“The question now is, if society did all these to push me to the top, why will I sit and fold arms and not give back to society.“An answer to the above question is what we see today, the official launch of the tornado ball.“This venture is one of many things I am already doing and hope to keep doing with my foundation.”