"It's going to be awesome," junior guard Ashley Josephson said. "I hope we have a great crowd and they are loud, but we are all psyched and pumped up for the season to start."
The buzz surrounding the Badger basketball team is already greater than last season, a year that ended with a disappointing 10-17 record. In the first month of practices, second year head coach Lisa Stone has already seen vast improvement from a team that will include five freshman in its rotation this year.
"It's different from last year, but it's different in a good way, because I am excited about our progress that we continue to demonstrate," Stone said of her second season as a Badger. "Hopefully we can show some domination here at the Kohl Center."
With such a young Wisconsin team, the Badgers will look to jump out on IUPUI early and avoid having to dig themselves out of an early hole. The Badgers and Jaguars both come into the contest without a regular season game under their belt, and both Stone and her players feel it is vital to set the tone in the opening minutes.
"We just have to realize what they put on us in the first couple minutes and we have to adjust to that," freshman guard Jolene Anderson said. "We have to watch them and if they try to switch something up, we need to beat them to it."
IUPUI enters the Kohl Center in its first season under head coach Shann Hart, and will look to pressure the Badgers early and often Friday night. The Jaguars are led by junior Forward Kia Hayes, a Mid-Continent Conference preseason all-conference selection. The six-footer led IUPUI with 13.5 points per game last season and was deadly beyond the three-point line, draining 44 percent of her shots from behind the arc.
"She is a three-point shooter, that's for sure," Stone said. "I know a lot from film and Janese Banks [who played against Hayes]. She's a long, lanky three-point shooter, thin and mobile, can break it off the dribble."
Wisconsin heads into the non-conference portion of its schedule looking for building blocks. With such a young team, the Badgers have to be focused on improvement and growth as much as winning early in the season.
"The steps just keep climbing up and we have to go with it otherwise we are going to be on the bottom row and that's not where we want to be right now," Stone said.
"You are gearing up for your conference," Stone added. "You certainly don't overlook anyone, we need to taste success and enjoy it and build on it to get some confidence."
What: Wisconsin (0-0) vs. IUPUI (0-0)
When: Friday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kohl Center (17,142), Madison, Wis.
Series notes: Wisconsin is 1-0 all-time against IUPUI.