Defense keys Badgers’ success

first_imgMATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photoWisconsin volleyball head coach Pete Waite couldn’t have scripted a better start to the Big Ten season for his team. After opening conference play at home with a big upset win over Minnesota, the No.8-ranked Badgers went on the road this weekend and defeated a pair of top-ranked Big Ten opponents.Wisconsin beat the No. 21-ranked Purdue Boilermakers 30-27, 31-29, 28-30, 14-30, 15-9 for the Badgers’ first Big Ten Conference road win of the season this past Friday and followed the emotional five-game victory up with a 3-0 sweep of Illinois Saturday.”I was really happy with our play this weekend at Purdue and at Illinois,” Waite said at his press conference Monday. “Going into Purdue, they’re a top-20 team and they play in a small gym with a big crowd and they’re an extremely scrappy team.”And going into Illinois was another good match for us,” he added. “We had lost there the last three years, I believe, and to come out of there with a three game win was fantastic.”Waite noted that his team’s ability to prove it can win Big Ten matches on the road early on in conference play was crucial for the team’s goal to capture the conference crown.”[Being able to win on the road] was huge,” Waite said. “That’s something we have not done as well as we needed to the last couple of years and the Big Ten is tough. I’m really proud of our team and how they did so I think that said a lot for the road games … It was a great test for us and I’m really happy to come away with those wins.”Conference Rivalries: Wisconsin already toppled one of its biggest rivals in Minnesota earlier this year, but with fellow foe Penn State coming to town this weekend one can speculate which one is the better rivalry.Waite said the two rivalries are almost equal, but that his team may be getting the better of both the Golden Gophers and the Nittany Lions this season.”I would almost say Minnesota and Penn State are the two [biggest rivals] because of the border battle with Minnesota and the way the three programs have gone since 1999,” Waite said. “After you win, you go down a little bit, but I feel like we’re on our way back up and again we have a lot of sophomores starting so we’re still young and learning, but we’re right up there with the top of the pack.”The trio has been dominant in the conference and national scene the past few years with Penn State winning the national title in 1999, the Badgers making the national tournament every year since 1996, including a Big Ten title in 2001, and with Minnesota being a perennial top-25 team.Defense, the key to success: While Waite’s squad has had the reputation as being a great offensive team, it hasn’t always had the same success on the other side of the net. Nevertheless, he has worked extremely hard to improve the team’s defense and passing this year.As a result, the Badgers have become a much more balanced team and Waite is quick to point out that it all comes back to the defense.”The last couple of years I don’t think we were as balanced as a team that we needed to be offensively as opposed to defensively,” he said. “We had the block and we had the offense, but if you don’t pass and don’t dig then you can’t stay in game with the best teams.”We’ve improved that partly by recruiting by getting someone like Jocelyn Wack in there and also just trained hard for the last 8-10 months since last season to improve our season to improve our defense,” he added. “Our numbers are more balanced now, we’ve got the offensive threats, and its coming together better for us.”While all may sound perfect for the volleyball team this year as they are winning on the road, blocking well and passing well, Waite was reluctant to say his team doesn’t have anything to improve upon.”As a coaching staff, we know the things we need to work on and the players do too, and that’s the tough thing,” Waite said. “Sometimes I actually have to remind them to be more excited about the good things they do because they’re always thinking they should be better. They don’t realize they’re a top-10 team and they’ve beaten some very strong teams this year already, but because we’re always trying to make them better they feel like they have much more to learn, so they’re definitely hungry for more and trying to get better as the season goes on.”last_img read more

Fast reactions from No. 17 Syracuse’s 98-68 loss to No. 4 Notre Dame

first_imgIn front of a season-high 7,568 fans in the Carrier Dome on Monday night, No. 17 Syracuse (20-7, 9-5 Atlantic Coast) fell to No. 4 Notre Dame (26-3, 13-2), 98-68. With a chance to defeat a ranked opponent on their home floor for the first time this season, the Orange fell flat and lost by their largest margin all year. Here are three immediate reactions from the game.Where’s Tiana?Notre Dame broke the game open in the second quarter, when it outscored the Orange 22-8. That included a 16-0 run in which many of the points came with Tiana Mangakahia, Syracuse’s point guard and best player, on the bench. Backup point guard Kiara Lewis ended up taking eight shots in the first half to Mangakahia’s one and played six more minutes than her. It took until the 2:48 mark in the third quarter for Mangakahia to score her first points of the game, but by that time, Syracuse trailed by 28. Mangakahia scored 17 points in the second half, but in what could be her last game in the Carrier Dome ever, she failed to make an impact until the game was out of hand.Pains in the paintAdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith the additions of players like Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi and Emily Engstler in addition to sophomores Digna Strautmane and Amaya Finklea-Guity, Syracuse has had a strong inside presence all season. Against Notre Dame, they were silent. Instead, the Irish’s Brianna Turner (6-foot-3) and Jessica Shepard (6-foot-4) controlled the post. Turner’s 22 points and Shepard’s 17 bolstered UND’s efforts inside, which ultimately resulted in a 60-40 points in the paint advantage.Not-so free throwsSyracuse came into the game fifth in the ACC in free throw percentage, shooting 74.7 percent on the season. That percentage dipped below 50 versus the Irish and quelled any real chances of fighting into the game. The Orange shot 6-for-15 from the line, including a 2-for-7 third quarter in which they made their strongest comeback bid of the game. Notre Dame, on the other hand, made 15 of its 18 free throws. Syracuse cut the Irish’s lead to 20 in the third, the lowest it would be in the second half, but never seriously threatened thanks to missed opportunities at the foul line. Comments Published on February 25, 2019 at 7:45 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Spain drop Diego Costa for European Qualifier

first_imgChelsea striker Diego Costa was dropped from the Spain squad on Friday for the European Championship qualifier next week while he nurses a groin injury.”Our doctors have been in contact with Chelsea’s doctors and they have agreed it would be best for him to rest,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said.Del Bosque added Diego Costa’s “pain in his groin doesn’t mean he won’t play on Saturday” when Chelsea faces Liverpool in the English Premier League.He made six changes from his last squad, giving forwards Jose Callejon, Manuel “Nolito” Agudo, Alvaro Morata and midfielder Ignacio Camacho chances to make their national team debuts.Spain hosts Belarus in a qualifier for Euro 2016 on Nov. 15 in the southern city of Huelva. Three days later, Spain, the two-time defending European champion, hosts world champion Germany in a friendly in Vigo.Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho complained that Diego Costa wasn’t fit because he was playing too much for Spain. The Brazilian-born striker missed four matches with a muscle injury for Chelsea after he played in Spain’s last two European qualifiers in October. “It was prudent (to drop Diego Costa) because, as we always say, the health of the players comes first,” Del Bosque said. “Costa is the first one who wants to play for us.”Callejon leads Serie A with eight goals for Napoli. Nolito has impressed with Celta this season, helping it stun Barcelona 1-0 last round and climb into sixth place in La Liga. Morata has found playing time with Italian champion Juventus, and Camacho has anchored Malaga’s midfield during its four-game winning streak.”We brought (Callejon and Nolito) for their goals, their good form, and because we may have trouble opening Belarus’ defense which will likely pack its area, so we needed talented players,” Del Bosque said.Spain is second in Group C with six points, level with Ukraine. Slovakia leads the group with nine. Macedonia has three, followed by Belarus and Luxembourg with one point each.Spain: Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David de Gea (Manchester United), Kiko Casilla (Espanyol)Defenders: Raul Albiol (Napoli), Marca Bartra (Barcelona), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Juan Bernat (Bayern Munich)Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Ignacio Camacho (Malaga), Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Francisco “Isco” Alarcon (Real Madrid), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Raul Garcia (Atletico Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Jose Callejon (Napoli), Manuel “Nolito” Agudo (Celta Vigo), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Paco Alcacer (Valencia)last_img read more