Even casual followers of the Wisconsin Badgers athletic department know that the women’s basketball team hasn’t been making a lot of noise in recent years. The Badgers finished last season 12-19 overall and 3-15 in the B1G, which was good for twelfth in the conference, tied for their best finish during coach Jonathan Tsipis’ four year run in Madison. They haven’t made the NCAA Tournament in a decade.
However, a young Badgers team (there are zero seniors, three juniors and one grad transfer on the roster) is looking to change your perception in the 2020-21 season. On Wednesday, the day of their first full practice, sophomore guard Sydney Hilliard, junior forward Imani Lewis and grad student wing Stella Moschkau spoke to the media about their expectations for the season and how their strange offseason went.
The Badgers are BACK First day of practice in the books. #OnWisconsin pic.twitter.com/FgHO6PzESE— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerWBB) October 15, 2020
First up, Hilliard discussed the learning curve she went through during her freshman season: “Last year was definitely a learning experience...getting used to the speed and physicality of the game. I wanna look to be more aggressive [this year].”
She was the first to mention the expectations the team seems to have for themselves this year, “It’s really exciting to see what our team has to offer this year.”
When asked who has looked good in practice so far, she mentioned grad transfer Moschkau who “brings physicality and versatility. She can play one through five with her length and stretch the floor with her shooting.”
As far as team chemistry is concerned on a squad with seven new faces (five freshmen and two transfers): “Our chemistry is a work in progress but I think we can make a big jump.”
Moschkau wasn’t in Madison over the summer because she was finishing up her undergrad work at Stanford. But she was still working out and looked to improve her ball handling. She’s really excited to be able to play 5v5 because the team couldn’t before due to COVID-19 protocols.
She went on to mention that every should be smart about our choices off the court. “I’m super excited to play against each other. Something we haven’t been able to do for months.”
On a daily basis our @BadgerWBB has sacrificed to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic to have a chance for a season. Each step forward they have been amazing, today we get to start another journey with official practice #1. Proud to be their coach!— Jonathan Tsipis (@BadgerCoachTsip) October 14, 2020
Moschkau was pretty blunt when asked about her expectations for the season: “Winning season. I’m used to winning. I really want to win.”
On what she brings being a grad transfer, leadership wise: “I was exposed to a lot of different offenses (at Stanford). I’m familiar with almost offense that’s in the sport of basketball. I’ll also bring a different level of intensity to games and practice.”
Similar to Moschkau, Lewis stayed home and trained (although her reason was personal, not school related), but was on the same training regimen as the team so she was ready when she got back to Madison.
As to her role on the team as a veteran leader: “I’m the main leader now and people are looking up to me.” She notes that she is trying to emulate great leaders in the NBA and WNBA like Maya Moore, LeBron James, Seimone Augustus or Kobe Bryant.
Again, the Badgers haven’t been a factor in the Big Ten or nationally in a decade, but things are turning around quickly. I think Lewis put it best when she said, “This year with this team, we have a different vision.”