WNIT Central: Cats Travel to Wisconsin for WNIT Second Round
March 21, 2009
Lexington, Ky. - Having defeated Chattanooga in the first round on Thursday, the Kentucky women's basketball team now has its sights set on Wisconsin. The Wildcats travel to Madison, Wis., Sunday, March 22 for the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament with tip-off in the Kohl Center slated for 2 p.m. EDT. The game will be carried live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with Neil Price. The game also will be video streamed live on uwbadgers.com.
Single-game general admission tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for high school age and younger. For more information, go online at uwbadgers.com or contact the UW Ticket Office, 608-262-1440 or 1-800-GO-BADGERS.
"We are very happy to win last night and it was a tough game for us," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said."Chattanooga was a very tough opponent and we were fortunate to win. We are happy that we are advancing in the postseason because any time you can win in the postseason it is special.
"It will be a tough game for us against Wisconsin," Mitchell said. "They are a hard-nosed, very physical defensive team that doesn't allow very many points. Every point that you score against them is earned. I think that it will be a physical game on Sunday and our team will have to be ready to play."
Kentucky (16-15, 5-9 SEC) faces Wisconsin for just the second time in school history but it's the second meeting between the squads in last three years. The teams also met in the 2007 WNIT, falling in the third round to the Badgers, 67-61.
Wisconsin (18-14, 6-12 Big Ten) received a first-round bye after finishing seventh in the Big Ten. The Badgers are playing in their fifth overall and third consecutive WNIT with a 13-3 record in the postseason event.
They are led by sophomore Alyssa Karel, an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection, who averages a team-high 13.1 points to go along with 3.5 rebounds per game. It's a balanced scoring attack for Wisconsin as five other Badgers average between 9.2 and 6.7 points per game. Sophomore Tara Steinbauer leads the team in rebounding with a 5.0 rpg average, and as a team Wisconsin pulls down 33.0 rebounds per game. The Badgers rank 47th nationally and fourth in the Big 10 in scoring defense, holding opponents to 56.9 points per game.
Kentucky, which defeated Chattanooga in overtime (81-76) in the first round, is led in scoring and rebounding by the interior duo of sophomore forward Victoria Dunlap (Nashville, Tenn.) and senior center Eleia Roddy (Columbus, Ohio). Dunlap, who posted a career-high 24 points vs. the Lady Mocs on Thursday, is tops on the team in scoring (13.0 ppg), rebounding (9.0 rpg) steals (56) and blocks (35) while Roddy averages 12.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. She leads the SEC in double-doubles with 11 while Dunlap is second with 10. Also averaging in double-figure points is Franklin with 11.6 ppg. She has posted double digits in eight of the last 10 games, including her second season double-double vs. Chattanooga with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The appearance marks Kentucky's sixth all-time in the WNIT and the fourth in the last five years. The Wildcats, who received an at-large bid to the WNIT, have a 13-4 record all-time in the postseason event and claimed the title in 1990.
Should UK advance it will face the winner of St. Bonaventure and West Virginia with a date and time to be announced.
Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
Opening Statement ...
"We are very happy to win last night and it was a tough game for us and Chattanooga was a very tough opponent. We were fortunate to win and are happy that we are advancing in the postseason. Any time you can win in the postseason it is special. It will be a tough game for us against Wisconsin. They are a hard-nosed, very physical defensive team that doesn't allow very many points. Every point that you score against them is earned. I think that it will be a physical game on Sunday and our team will have to be ready to play."
On if Kentucky is up for the physical challenge that Wisconsin brings ...
"The SEC is a very physical league, so our team is up for the challenge and can definitely handle the game from that stand point. What Wisconsin is going to do is make the game slower pace than what we are usually involved in - that is not a negative thing but it can be tough on you. They give up very few easy baskets. It will be physical. It will also be mentally taxing for us to be able to concentrate and execute and that is what will tell the tale because we are tough to score against as well. It will be a battle of two good defensive teams and I think the team that can be more mentally tough by staying in their offense and finding that one opening to score will win."
On if Wisconsin's balanced scoring makes it tough to scout ...
"Yeah, it is hard to prepare for this team because you will have a kid score 16 one night and then four the next night so it makes it difficult to be able to focus and concentrate on one person. Thank goodness you have a lot of film on them and by the time Sunday rolls around we will have a good feel for them."
On if the play of his underclassman last night gives him hope for next season ...
"No question. Let's take Amber Smith in particular because I thought that last night's game was so important for her. If we had not of been in postseason she would not had that opportunity to play last night, get better and do what she did. While we are totally focused on Wisconsin and trying to advance in this tournament, if you step back and look at the big picture we definitely want our players that are coming back next year to perform well and help move them on in the offseason. There are a lot of good things that can come from the game last night."
On if he is worried about his team's physical endurance ...
"You have to be really mindful of their legs this time of year. There are some coaches that won't talk about that or consider that but I think that it is important. I think that the preparation needs to be heavily skewed to the mental preparation than physical. We need to be prepared mentally and we need to use that energy on game day. Whatever we do physically today will be intense but short and we will try to talk more about what our plan and what their plan is."