UW’s Anderson tabbed as Big Ten’s preseason POY

first_imgCHICAGO — Wisconsin guard Jolene Anderson can add yet another award to her growing list, as the senior was named Big Ten women’s basketball Preseason Player of the Year by coaches and the media Sunday.Anderson led the Badgers in scoring last season, averaging 19.8 points per game. Her 7.1 rebounds per game were also best on the team.”It’s amazing where my career’s taken me from my senior year in high school to my senior year in college,” Anderson said. “My four years [with Wisconsin] have just gone flying by. …I treasure it every day.”Along with her Player of the Year honor, Anderson was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big Ten teams voted on by coaches and media. “It’s very deserving,” teammate Janese Banks said of Anderson’s honors. “I think it’s very beneficial for her, and it’s very beneficial for this program. … I’m sure she appreciates this award, but she wants this team to do well. This team is going to do well while she’s doing well at the same time.”Anderson received praise from other players around the conference, including Ohio State’s Marscilla Packer, who has played with Anderson on national teams in the past, including the U-21 team, which won a gold medal at the World Championships this past summer.”I think she surprises a lot of people,” Packer said. “If you have to guard her, she’ll shoot in your face, she’ll go by you — she’s creative.”During her first three years with Wisconsin, Anderson’s numbers increased each season.”It’s hard to improve when you keep breaking records,” UW head coach Lisa Stone said. “She’s attacking the basket more, defensively she’s one of our best. She leads us in nearly every category. We’ve just got to keep her healthy and determined.”Team picked to finish secondThanks in large part to Anderson’s accomplishments, Wisconsin was picked to finish second in the Big Ten in the preseason coaches’ poll released Sunday, and third in the media poll. Ohio State was predicted in both polls to win the conference following their Big Ten title last year.”It’s certainly a wonderful honor,” Stone said. “I’m proud of Jolene and what she’s done for our program, and I’m proud of our players for the hard work that they’ve done to be recognized in the preseason.”Despite being selected as high as they were, Stone’s objectives have remained the same as she acknowledges the polls are just that — preseason rankings.”It is a preseason poll,” Stone said. “Our goal has been the same since I’ve arrived at Wisconsin. We want to win a Big Ten Championship, get into the NCAA Tournament and go as far as you can.”With last season’s roster containing eight freshmen and no seniors, Wisconsin returns 12 players from the team that went 23-13, along with three incoming freshmen and redshirt sophomore Alana Trotter, who will sit out the season after transferring from Ohio University.”The fact that they were young last year is going to help them this year, because they have that year of experience,” Purdue guard FahKara Malone said. “I definitely see them being a very tough opponent this year.”At the end of last season, the Badgers advanced to the finals of the WNIT postseason tournament. Stone believes the Badgers tournament showing made a big impact on their current preseason recognition.”That WNIT run was huge for us,” Stone said. “We had a great team, built a lot of momentum (and) demonstrated our capabilities in terms of who we were playing.”Despite losing to Wyoming in the finals, Wisconsin was able to play an extra five games on the season, giving the team more chances to play together and develop.”It was a tough loss, yet we’re playing on the last possible day we can play,” Stone said. “We extended our season three weeks. That’s huge for us in terms of progression of the program. So we’re using that as a positive, not a negative.”The team also took a trip to Australia and New Zealand over the summer, playing in four international games. For a group that emphasized chemistry, the experience brought the players even closer together.”It was maybe less about the game and more about us as a team growing,” Stone said. “When you take a team overseas, and you stick together, you work through differences. …Our family got even tighter.”Wisconsin opens its season with an exhibition game Thursday against St. Norbert, and Stone says her team is ready to continue the momentum from last year’s record-setting season.”They’re hungry,” Stone said. “There’s a little fire lit under their feet, and they’re working really hard. They want this to be the best year we’ve had.”last_img

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