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Whyte, Bauman combine talents for starting role

first_imgThe point guard position: arguably the most important position across the sporting-world. A point guard’s ability to head an intricate offense, facilitate teammates and remain level-headed throughout the game makes the position one of the hardest and complex positions to master in all of sports.The Wisconsin women’s basketball team currently has two players who are trying to master the craft of being the signal caller for the Badgers (10-11 overall, 3-6 Big Ten).Coming into the season, sophomore guard Dakota Whyte was all set to take over starting point guard duties for the Badgers upon the graduation of Tiera Stephen. After averaging 11 minutes a game her freshman year, largely due to injuries around her, this season Whyte was thrust into the starting lineup filled with upperclassmen Taylor Wurtz, Morgan Paige, Jacki Gulczynski and Michala Johnson.However, things didn’t go as planned for Badger head coach Bobbie Kelsey who decided to hand over the reins of point guard to another sophomore, Nicole Bauman, who she felt had a little more experience. Bauman averaged 26.7 minutes per game as a freshman last season, more than double that of Whyte, and was put into the starting lineup for the first time this season for their game against Iowa on Jan. 12. Since the switch, Bauman has had three games scoring in double-figures including a very healthy 8-for-19 (42 percent) mark from beyond the arc.“We had been struggling in the starting point guard position,” Bauman said. “It’s just something that me and Dakota have both taken over and that we’re both contributing to.”With Bauman being sick the past two games, Whyte has been the starting point guard for UW, but that job will likely go back to Bauman Wednesday when the Badgers play host to No. 18 Nebraska.Regardless, Whyte remains upbeat about her role on the team and sees coming off the bench as a learning opportunity.“My role is obviously to be the point guard, but also to share that role with Nicole Bauman,” Whyte said. “I think that whether you’re coming off of the bench or starting, the role is still the same for me; being the point guard leading the team.”“Coming off the bench was almost a blessing for me,” Whyte added. “It made me realize how much basketball means to me and to not ever take it for granted. So coming off the bench just makes me want to come in the game and affect it as much as I can.”As both players compete for that starting role, Kelsey recognizes that Whyte and Bauman can be used effectively in different scenarios. With Bauman’s ability to shoot the basketball and see the floor and Whyte’s talents of driving the lane and passing, it’s a combination that could really benefit the Badgers down the road.Together they work to bolster a starting lineup that already has three players averaging double-figures.“They each bring a different element,” Kelsey said. “Nicole’s a little more steady; that’s just her personality. It’s not that Dakota’s not, it’s just that in certain situations we know what Nicole’s going to do. In certain situations we know what Dakota’s going to do. It depends on whoever is playing well and hopefully both of them are playing well at the time.”But what might be the most important benefit to having two able starting point guards is the competition in practice between the players and the opportunity they have to learn from one another.They both view this opportunity as a chance to get better.“Oh yeah definitely,” Bauman said about herself and Whyte learning from each other. “We always talk about different plays that we’re running. If I don’t know one, she’ll help me out, if she doesn’t know one I’ll help her out.”“Nicole is more of a [shooting guard] which she played last year,” Whyte said. “I really love her shooting ability and that’s one thing that I need to get into my game. Whether it’s just knocking down an open shot, or with someone on you, she just has a really nice shot and I love that about her game.”Regardless of their abilities, Kelsey is simply looking for someone to run the offense. With both players being in just their second season, she wants the two guards to play within themselves and to not do anything too crazy.“Just don’t turn it over and make the easy pass,” Kelsey said. “Don’t try to make the home run play and that’s for any of your point guards or players. You try to just give them the opportunity to be creative but not crazy. You can’t go out there and throw it up hoping somebody will catch it. You have to be able to communicate. That gives us the best chance to win.”last_img read more

Claire Cooke a fixture in SU’s lineup almost 2 years after ACL surgery

first_img Published on September 26, 2018 at 10:45 pm One month into Claire Cooke’s senior season at W.T. Woodson (Virginia) High School in October 2016, the Syracuse commit heard a pop in her knee, and she fell to the ground after an illegal pick.“I thought it was her stick hitting my stick when she fell on me,” Cooke said. “But it hurt really badly, and I knew something was wrong.”She had torn her ACL, meniscus and PCL.Cooke had never broken a bone or torn anything in her body. She had never experienced an injury more significant than a sprained ankle from playing soccer.Cooke spiraled into self-doubt and frustration, but she still ended up at Syracuse (6-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast). After redshirting her freshman season due to the injury, Cooke has started seven of SU’s nine games and registered three shots.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“She needed to learn to play the game with speed,” SU head coach Ange Bradley said. “And once she settled down and stopped trying so hard, she was able to be a really good player. She makes good reads, and she’s really aggressive in her defensive pressure.”Cooke originally began field hockey to stay in shape for soccer and lacrosse.But then she quit soccer to focus on lacrosse and field hockey. She made the varsity field hockey team as a sophomore, and then joined a club team, Rampage, to gain exposure. Although Cooke showed potential in field hockey after her freshman season, her initial experience on the club team — or lack thereof — made it seem like she wasn’t even close.Cooke felt behind. She found it hard to fit in not only because of the gap in skill level, but also because a majority of the players on the Rampage had been playing together since they were eight years old.“Her skills were pretty far from all the other girls who had played together,” Rampage assistant coach April Moshos said. “I remember her many times coming up to me and saying ‘What can I work on, what can I work on?’ Because she was so athletic and so fast, she wanted to run everywhere. So we worked on her really learning to be disciplined in her position and her really paying attention to her skill.”Cooke was behind in recruiting, too. Massachusetts and American University had showed interest, but it all waned after she had the worst tournament of her life, according to her mother, Jennifer. She was recovering from the stomach bug, but upon returning home from that tournament, she received an email from both colleges saying they were no longer interested.A month later, while watching the 2015 field hockey national championship game between SU and North Carolina, Jennifer planned how to further her daughter’s recruitment. She suggested Cooke email Syracuse.“There’s no way that they are going to email me back,” Jennifer remembered her daughter saying. “There’s no way they are going to recruit someone who just started playing, like, two years ago.”She reached out to the Orange because at that point, in November of her junior season, Cooke’s destination was shaping up to be a lower Division I or Division III school. She hadn’t played well enough in tournaments.In February of 2016, that changed. The Rampage were traveling to Florida for the Presidents’ Day Tournament. Originally, there wasn’t a spot for Cooke, but one of her teammates broke their thumb. Following the injury, Rampage head coach Starr Karl asked Cooke to fill the void. Cooke would go on to play the best field hockey Karl had ever seen her play, and to Cooke’s surprise it was in front of Bradley.“Holy sh*t,” Cooke remembered saying after the tournament. “The reigning national championship coach just emailed me.”Bradley asked Cooke to visit SU, which Cooke eventually did. It was on that trip that Bradley offered the 2016 All-State midfielder a scholarship. She accepted.But months later, in the fall of her senior season, Cooke blew out her knee, and she struggled to recover before her first season with Syracuse.Doctors cleared Cooke six months after surgery, but her full strength wasn’t back until three months into the season at SU, she said. When Cooke arrived on campus in July, about eight months after the injury, she wasn’t fully healthy. And she couldn’t do many of things that both she and Bradley expected.Once at SU, Bradley asked Cooke about her goals. The freshman didn’t have any. Bradley questioned her progress. Cooke hadn’t done anything.Bradley challenged Cooke to set small goals for herself like getting full rotation on the bike and meeting certain “marks” while running. Cooke did everything she could but decided that redshirting was in her best interest.“By the time I got to play college field hockey, the transition from playing high school to not playing, because I was out for my injury, to playing at the speed of the way that we do now, it was just too much for me,” Cooke said.Transitioning from senior captain on her high school team to a redshirt freshman on a college team filled with All-Americans and national champions was a difficult process, Cooke said.Two years removed from her injury, Cooke is now a regular fixture in the SU lineup.“I’m very, very lucky to be here,” Cooke said. “That’s for sure.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more