Sophomore Rae Lin D'Alie was in the starting lineup for Wisconsin's 96-29 exhibition win over St. Norbert College Thursday night, but it was freshman Alyssa Karel who was making all the plays.
Karel scored a game-high 18 points and dished out three assists in 18 minutes off the bench, impressing everyone in attendance at the Kohl Center.
"She was really quick," St. Norbert coach Connie Tilley said. "She was really, really good."
D'Alie — a starter last season as a freshman —didn't have an off night, recording game-highs of four assists and four steals. But Karel was able to run the offense just as efficiently while adding an ability to score.
It took Karel a couple of minutes to adjust to the flow of the game, and that's because she had to shake off some butterflies in her first collegiate game.
"I was the most nervous I've ever been in a long time," Karel said. "When I first subbed in, I was freaking out."
It didn't take her long to become comfortable on the floor, though. Less than two minutes after she subbed in, Karel dished out her first assist. Soon thereafter, she was hitting jumpers, driving to the rim and making plays on the defensive side of the ball.
"Alyssa was great in the open-court, made some really, really nice decisions," UW coach Lisa Stone said. "She got out in transition (and) has the ability to elevate off the dribble."
While Karel only had three assists, she could very well have had more as the Badgers missed several buckets in transition. Maybe Karel's most impressive play of the night came late in the first half when she found sophomore guard Annie Crangle on with an over-the-head pass to complete a fast break. However, Crangle was unable to lay it in and had to settle for two free throws instead.
Whether or not Karel beats out D'Alie for the starting point guard position when the regular season starts Nov. 9 at Cleveland State, Stone knows the freshman guard has a bright future ahead of her.
"I think the sky's the limit for the kid," Stone said. "She can shoot the three, get to the basket, defend, she's got really quick hands and in the open court she's really fun to watch."
Karel wasn't the only freshman to have a standout game Thursday. First-year forwards Lin Zastrow and Tara Steinbauer also contributed off the bench, chipping in 11 and eight points, respectively.
But the freshmen's debut may have been too good. "Now, all three of them, I know what they can do so they better not have an off game," senior guard Jolene Anderson said.