Coming off three straight losses, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team will look to get back to winning ways Thursday night at the Kohl Center, yet faces an offensively explosive Ohio State team led by freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell.Mitchell, the No. 1 recruit in the nation in some rankings, has not disappointed in her first season. She leads the nation in scoring, averaging 25.9 points per game, and also leads the country in three-pointers made (75).“We’re gonna try to just get it out of her hands,” Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “Not trapping her or anything, she’s too fast, she’s too quick. A scorer like that? Hard to stop. Let hope she’s off and she’s missing.”This past Sunday, the freshman phenom poured in 37 points, with 31 coming in the second half or overtime period in the Buckeyes’ 79-71 OT win at Purdue. She made four three’s and was 13 of 14 from the free-throw line.“We’re gonna mix it up,” Kelsey said of her team’s defensive game plan. “I don’t think we can do one thing the whole game … It’s just identifying where she is and kind of gang-guarding her.“The girl can just flat out score. And she’s left-handed, that’s even worse.”The performance led her to earn her second straight Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors, as well as Big Ten Player of the Week honors. It was the second time this season she’s won both distinctions in the same week, and was the fifth time she’s been named conference Freshman of the Week.Junior Ameryst Alston, who averages 20.8 points per game, joins Mitchell in the backcourt as another formidable scoring threat for the Buckeyes. Freshman forward Alexa Hart leads Ohio State in blocks (3.8 per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game).For Wisconsin, the three junior guards will look to continue to their recent offensive success. Dakota Whyte has scored in double figures in her last six games, while Nicole Bauman and Tessa Cichy both set new career-high point totals in the Badgers 77-71 loss at Michigan State Sunday, with 23 and 15 points, respectively.“It gave me a lot of confidence that I know I can hit my shot,” Bauman said of her career-high day. “My teammates will hit me when I’m open, and vice versa, and just trusting one another, and getting more into the flow of a game, rather than an individual game.”Bauman said it will be important for the Badgers to not fall into shooting dry spells, which allows the opposition to pull away.“There are certain times in the game where we have a lapse, where we just can’t get the ball to go in the hoop,” Bauman said. “Then the other team will get up by like 10 points and then we can’t seem to fight out of that hole.”Whyte said that there is still more room for improvement on the offensive end, however.“It’s somewhat where I want it to be,” Whyte said of her performance this season thus far. “I don’t wanna be a 20-point scorer every game. I’d rather have more assists.”Wisconsin will have to be better than the 60.9 points it averages per game if it wants to have a chance of beating Ohio State, which averages 81.0 points per game. In Big Ten play, the Buckeyes have scored 79 points or more in five of their last eight games, while Wisconsin has eclipsed 79 points once the entire season.In the last two games though, Wisconsin has scored 72 and 71 points.“I don’t think that offense is the problem,” Whyte said. “I think that we are capable of scoring, everyone on our team, especially the starters, but I think that defense is something we really need to work on.”Whyte, Cichy and Bauman have seen increases in their scoring numbers from a year ago. Bauman (+6.8), ranks fourth in the Big Ten among most improved scorers, while Cichy (+6.2) and Whyte (+4.2) rank sixth and ninth, respectively.“We’re capable,” Kelsey said. “We just have to play some defense.”Who: Ohio State vs. WisconsinWhere: The Kohl Center, Madison, WisconsinWhen: 8 p.m.TV: Big Ten Network (BTN) with Eric Collins and Sherry TillRadio: The Mic 92.1 with Jon AriasLast Time: Wisconsin defeated Ohio State 82-71 on Feb. 2, 2014.All-time series: Ohio State leads 47-17, including a 17-12 mark in Madison. The Buckeyes have won 21 of the last 23 meetings dating back to 2001.WisconsinProbable Starters: G Dakota Whyte (10.4 points per game), G Nicole Bauman (12.9 ppg), G Tessa Cichy (8.0 ppg), F Jacki Gulczynski (9.1 ppg), F Cassie Rochel (6.1 ppg)Key Reserves: G/F AnnMarie Brown, G Cayla McMorris, F Malayna JohnsonKey Injury: Michala Johnson (torn ACL)Ohio StateProbable Starters: G Kelsey Mitchell (25.9 ppg), G Cait Craft (7.9 ppg), G Ameryst Alston (20.8 ppg), G Asia Doss (5.6 ppg), F Alexa Hart (10.5 ppg)Key Reserve: G Shayla Cooper (10.4 ppg)
Coming off its best season and first NCAA tournament appearance in five years, things should have been looking up for the men’s basketball program.Instead, as the calendar flips to June, there appears to be more questions than answers, with two starters — forward Nikola Jovanovic and guard Julian Jacobs — declaring for the NBA draft. Additionally, three more players — guard Katin Reinhardt, forward Malik Marquetti and guard Malik Martin — are transferring and forward Darion Clark graduated a year early.It didn’t have to be this way. Jovanovic, Jacobs, Reinhardt and Clark were all juniors. Marquetti and Martin were sophomores. Following the Trojans’ devastating loss to Providence in the first round of the tournament, there was a strong sense that this was just the tip of the iceberg, that this team would return all of its players — minus senior forward Strahinja Gavrilovic — and come back with more experience to make a deeper run next season.But for one reason or another, they all departed one by one, widening the holes that head coach Andy Enfield will have to fill. Jovanovic was the last to go, announcing on Instagram last week that he would keep his name in the draft.Enfield, who just signed a contract extension through the 2020-2021 season, will scramble to replace three experienced players and three key bench players. Granted, USC has a strong incoming freshman class along with Louisville transfer guard Shaqquan Aaron, but losing both Jovanovic and Jacobs will sting, regardless of their replacements.The juniors were holdovers from the previous coaching regime, brought on as freshman recruits before Enfield was hired prior to the 2013-2014 season. Yet they chose to stick with USC through the difficult rebuild that Enfield engineered.“Players like Julian and Nikola that were here as freshmen made a commitment to try to be the reason why USC basketball competes on a national level,” Enfield said in an interview in January. “They’ve done an amazing job of that so far.”In a season that saw the Trojans jump into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2008, Jovanovic and Jacobs emerged as leaders, due to both their experience and play on the court. Jovanovic stretched the floor as a 6’11” big man who can not only score inside and grab rebounds but also make jumpers. Jacobs was one of the team’s best defenders, and used his athleticism on offense to create plays and was also good for at least one spectacular dunk a game.On a roster where half the team consisted of underclassmen, Jovanovic and Jacobs served as calming presences and go-to players. Reinhardt, who was a starter early in the season but came off the bench towards the latter part of the year, also provided this leadership. The redshirt junior, who transferred to Marquette, was also a solid 3-point shooter and a capable defender.The losses of Clark, Martin and Marquetti, while replaceable, will hit USC’s depth hard. Their reasoning to leave may have been due to the lack of playing time for bench players next season with all five starters presumed to return — the irony being those three would have been leaned on heavily to fill the playing time voided by the various departures.Instead, Enfield will have to rely on fresh blood much earlier than he would have liked. Aaron, a redshirt sophomore who couldn’t crack Rick Pitino’s rotation with the Cardinals, will probably take Jacobs’ spot in the starting five. Sophomore forward Chimezie Metu, a raw but promising freshman last season, should slide into Jovanovic’s role.Metu will work in the frontcourt with fellow sophomore Bennie Boatwright, who will see his role increase on the offensive end as a stretch-four. Junior guard Jordan McLaughlin will take on more of a leadership role as their point guard and best playmaker. Athletic junior guard Elijah Stewart, who showed flashes of what he can be last season as both a shooter and an aggressive rim-attacker, will need to be more consistent.USC’s recruiting class is encouraging, with freshmen De’Anthony Melton, Jonah Mathews, Harrison Henderson and Nick Rakocevic all highly-touted and bound to leave their mark, but Enfield has been here before in terms of having high-potential but young and inexperienced players, and he would prefer to not undergo another rebuild.Such is college athletics, when the window of success opens and closes depending on how many players unexpectedly declare for the draft, graduate or transfer. The Trojans still have talent and enough returners to remain a legitimate threat in the Pac-12, but losing so many key players after their most encouraging season in years is a big blow nonetheless. For a program trying to find consistent success, the task just got a bit harder.Eric He is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Wednesdays.
SUBSCRIBE TO US Written By Press Trust Of India Valtteri Bottas topped the times for Mercedes ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Friday’s opening free practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Finn, who is assured already of finishing second behind six-time champion Hamilton in this year’s title race, clocked a best time of one minute and 36.957 seconds to outpace Verstappen by half a second and Hamilton by six-tenths. Bottas, who announced the break-up of his marriage on Thursday, will start from the back of the grid on Sunday regardless of how he does in qualifying after being sanctioned for taking a new power-unit.READ | Matt Ryan Takes Shy Tuttle’s Brutal Stiff Arm To The Face After Interception: WatchBottas tops practice timesHe clocked his best lap on a set of medium tyres midway through a session stopped twice for red flags following a blown engine in Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault and a late crash by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The four-time champion Vettel had arrived late at the circuit on Friday morning following the birth of his third child, a son, on Wednesday. Red Bull new boy Alex Albon was fourth, Vettel fifth and Romain Grosjean sixth for Haas ahead of Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari, Kevin Magnussen in the second Haas, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who is set to start his final Grand Prix with the team.READ | Elijah Moore’s Dog Pee Celebration Costs Ole Miss In Egg Bowl Against Mississippi StateBottas dominated the session from the start and was only replaced briefly early on by Hamilton before the stoppages on a hot day of blue skies at the Yas Marina circuit. Ricciardo’s engine failure dumped a lot of oil on the track, which led to a 10-minute clean-up before the action resumed and Vettel spun backward into the barriers. Williams’s George Russell took part in the session and wound up 20th despite doubts about his fitness due to illness. He went through a medical check before taking part.READ | Lewis Hamilton Blames F1 Career For Split With Nicole ScherzingerHamilton ran briefly in the session with number one on the nose of his car and, when asked earlier about Bottas’ private predicament, said that balancing the demands of racing with a full private life was dificult. He congratulated Vettel on the new addition to his family while sympathising with Bottas following the split with wife Emilia, an Olympic swimmer and a horse show jumping rider, after three years’ marriage. “It’s similar to most sportsmen and women, but it may actually be slightly different in that we are away for crazy amounts of time,” he said. “I for one also find that incredibly difficult, with your goal to be as competitive as you can be, but there are those who manage it — like Seb.” READ | Donald Cerrone Mocks Conor McGregor’s Proper 12 Brand Ahead Of Highly-awaited UFC Bout First Published: 29th November, 2019 18:06 IST Last Updated: 29th November, 2019 18:06 IST Bottas Tops Practice Times For Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Valtteri Bottas topped the times for Mercedes ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Friday’s opening free practice 9 months ago Ferrari set for crisis talks with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc after crash WATCH US LIVE LIVE TV 9 months ago Hamilton unsure he can catch Ferrari, Bottas more confident WE RECOMMEND 10 months ago Lewis Hamilton, Bottas divided over Max Verstappen’s driving 9 months ago Lewis Hamilton to have contract renewal talks with Mercedes amidst Ferrari rumours FOLLOW US COMMENT 9 months ago Sebastian Vettel becomes father, set to delay arrival for Abu Dhabi GP