First-year guard Karsyn Norman played 21 minutes against Bradley on Nov. 29. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.
DAVID JACOBS | SPORTS REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
The women’s basketball team has a chance to improve to 6-2 and secure their first true road win as they travel to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Badgers on Dec. 3.
Here is what you need to know before Butler tips off against Wisconsin.
Who: Butler vs. Wisconsin
When: Dec. 3, 1:00 p.m.
Where: Kohl’s Center
How to watch: B1G +
Getting better each game
After a rough season opener in Ames against Iowa State, the Dawgs have looked better with each win. They had two grinding victories against Detroit Mercy and Austin Peay before a beatdown of Roosevelt that sparked the team into a shooting hot streak.
Through the first three games of the season, the team was connecting on just 25% of their three point shots, but have increased that clip to 43% in the last four outings. With shooters like sophomore guard Jordan Meulemans and senior guard Caroline Strande shooting 55% and 47% from the perimeter, respectively, Butler will be able to compete with just about anyone.
Another big improvement seen each game has been the ball movement. In the first three games of the season, the Dawgs were averaging just under 10 assists a game, while they are dishing out 20 assists a game in the last four matches. Although the turnovers have been a reoccurring issue, the Bulldogs are coming off a dominating victory over Bradley where they gave it up just 10 times.
Scouting the Badgers
Wisconsin competes in the Big 10 conference that currently consists of teams throughout the Midwest and East Coast.
The Dawgs will be traveling to Madison, Wisconsin, which is a quick five and a half hour drive up Interstates 65 and 90.
Wisconsin is led by sophomore forward Serah Williams who averages 14.4 points and just under eight rebounds per game. She is accompanied by sophomore guard Ronnie Porter, first year guard D’Yanis Jimenez and sophomore guard Sania Copeland to make up the double digit scorers on the team.
As shown by their four double digit scorers, this Badger team is young and shallow. They have six players averaging over 28 minutes a game and just two others with over five minutes. With Butler running a deep eight player rotation with two additional players averaging over nine minutes, the Dawgs will likely be able to have fresher legs on the court at all times.
The Badgers will be the toughest defense the Dawgs have faced all season as they average nearly 14 combined steals and blocks (stocks) per game. However, despite their elite ball pressure, Wisconsin turns the ball over 18 times a game and their opponents average about 10 steals a game.
This Wisconsin team is good, but they are also very young which explains the turnovers. This season, Butler is averaging just under seven steals per game and has 20 in their last two games. It would be quite the resume builder for the Dawgs to beat this talented Wisconsin team on the road.
Three keys to victory
- Defensive pressure. Wisconsin plays loose with the ball and the Dawgs are coming off of their best defensive game of the season. Led by junior guard Ari Wiggins, Butler is holding opponents to just 59.6 points per game and just 31% from deep. Wisconsin scores nearly 70 points per game on 35% from deep, so one of the trends will need to give in.
- Free throws. The Badgers are averaging 17 free throw attempts per game compared to just over 11 from Butler. The Badgers are not a great free throw shooting team at a 68% clip, but they still get over 11 points from the charity stripe each game. For the Dawgs to pull out the win, limiting Wisconsin’s attempts and increasing their own will be crucial.
- Control the ball. It is obvious that limiting turnovers will help Butler win; however, the Bulldogs need to do more than just limit turnovers. The Badgers average 14 stocks per game, forcing nearly 20 turnovers a game. The Dawgs force just under 15 and commit just over 14 per game. To best expose the type of team Wisconsin is, Butler will need to make sure they win the turnover battle while playing at their own pace.
On the road, Butler will likely be the underdog in this even match up. However, a win will be a big confidence boost and will be a good test to see just how good this team can be this year.