UW better off sans Anderson

first_imgJolene Anderson: scorer, amazing, great, inspiring.These might be some of the words used to describe, up to this point, Wisconsin’s most talented women’s basketball player ever.Setting a school record for points (2,312) and starting every game as a Badger over the last four seasons, Anderson, now with the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA, certainly left a lasting legacy, one which will be difficult to follow. She consistently led the Badgers in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals from year to year, and her career average of 18.8 points per game is tops all-time at UW. She also helped bring the popularity of the sport back to Madison, drawing nearly 6,400 fans per game.But was she good for the team? Not really.Call it the Michael Beasley factor. Call it the Orlando Magic, Tracy McGrady or the Joe Johnson factor. When only one player is relied upon because, in this case, she has tremendous talent, the rest of the team suffers. Instead of developing their own games and being rewarded with an increased role in the offense, Anderson’s teammates (minus Janese Banks) seemed content passing the ball off and hoping their star could make something happen.More often than not, she didn’t.For all of the makes during the course of her career (886), there were more misses (1,197). For all of the 12-for-17 games, there were more 5-for-19 ones.During a five-game stretch this season, Anderson hit just 23 of 81 shots (28.4 percent).Yet after each miss and each performance, Anderson kept trying to shoot her way out of the slump. One particular night against Illinois, Anderson missed 16 shots, or 16 empty trips down the court — assuming no second-chance points — in a game the Badgers lost by 10.But Anderson is just the instrument. She does what is allowed and expected of her. The real blame lies in the musician.At some point, UW coach Lisa Stone should have said, “OK, Anderson doesn’t have it tonight. Let’s go with someone else who does.”Based on the shot attempts — Anderson’s season-low was nine, a game the Badgers won by 14 — it doesn’t appear that Stone took ownership of the team on those such occasions.In all, the Badgers went 3-8 when Anderson took 19 or more shots, but were 6-0 when someone else led the team in that department.Because Stone kept turning to Anderson, whether it was out of fear, timidity or just her nature, the team underachieved.The thought was that the Badgers could turn the corner after making it to the WNIT championship game in 2006-07. Instead, the year was full of disappointment.Wisconsin finished the Big Ten season in a seventh-place tie at 9-9, nowhere near the top-place conference finish predicted during preseason.UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez called out Stone for not performing the way he had expected. He told Stone she’d be back next season but warned her that he wanted results.If there has ever been a chance for Stone to prove her worth as a head coach, it’s now.She proved that she wasn’t a good coach with star-power talent. (Ask George Karl or Doc Rivers, and they’ll tell you it’s not easy.) Nevertheless, Stone can still prove that she has what it takes manning the sideline.With no Anderson, it will be up to her to figure out how to get a commonwealth of well-adept players to act cohesively as a unit. Something in that sentence alone says that Stone is breathing a sigh of relief and is eagerly awaiting the fall.If someone is on, the offense will run through her. No ifs, ands or buts anymore. If not, the ball rotation will find someone else who is. Every individual will be more consistent since they will be relied upon more equally, making the team more consistent.So don’t fret that Anderson will no longer be a Badger, because it very well could be a good thing.Kevin is a senior majoring in economics and journalism. Tell him how you think the women’s basketball team will fare without Anderson next season by e-mailing him at [email protected]last_img read more

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