This year, the University of Wisconsin women’s tennis team has dealt with more than its fair share. With numerous injuries forcing adjustments in the lineup — oftentimes playing matches without a full roster — the Badgers have truly tested their players and overall attack of the game.”With all that we’ve dealt with, we’ve really had to re-evaluate our goals and overall strategies,” head coach Patti Henderson said. “At the beginning of the year, we set goals that we wanted to happen and achieve, and things have definitely been tested.”With the team’s No. 1 singles player Caitlin Burke injured, Kaylan Caiati and Liz Carpenter — No. 2 and No. 3, respectively — have had to step up.”Although there have been close matches we’ve been unable to win, Kaylan and Liz have definitely stepped up,” Henderson said. “By showing that these girls can be confident at a higher level, the younger members of the team should follow by example and apply it to the court.”At this point in the season, Wisconsin’s goal is simply to keep playing through the adversity it has encountered.”It’s important that everyone plays their hardest and leaves the match, win or loss, knowing you put everything out there,” Burke said. “While we have been struggling a little, it’s important to set by example and go out there and give it your all every time.”If anything, our main goal is to make sure that the Badger legacy lives on and that we return to the tennis world as a threat in our final upcoming games this season.”A tough schedule awaits as Wisconsin (3-10 overall, 0-5 Big Ten) faces its last non-conference opponent in No. 3 Notre Dame (14-1 overall, 0-1 Big East) Thursday at the Neilsen Tennis Stadium and finishes the season with five Big Ten matches.With the grueling schedule ahead, the Badgers know that this is their time to show that, despite the setbacks, UW is a team to watch out for.”If we are able to win all the rest of our Big Ten conference matches, then there is definite potential to get back on track and finish the season on a good and positive note,” Henderson said. “With the schedule we have coming up, it’ll be interesting to see if matches will go our way, and if it does, this team is right back in it.”
“Learning how to play both ends of the floor at a high level and being locked in and being focused,” he said. “When you play against overseas guys, you have to be focused because you don’t really know their game.“You have to make sure you take every opponent very strong. You make sure you lock into the film sessions and things like that.”Harden averaged 27.4 points — second in the league — 7.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds during the regular season. All are career bests. He made 208 3-pointers — fourth in the league — and averaged more free-throw attempts (10.2 per game) than anyone else.The latter statistic has become sort of a calling card for him. He loves to attack. When asked ahead of Game 4 how he can be more effective, his reply spelled that out. “I think the aggressiveness will determine the passes I should make and the shots I should take,” he said. “It’s a combination of those two. I take control when I need to and I’m a playmaker when I need to be as well. The aggressiveness factor will take care of all of that in going out there and being a beast.”A beast, he has been all season.“Good player,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “He can pass the ball, he can shoot the ball, gets to the line, keeps improving. It’s like any other good player, he has traits that he does very, very well at an elite level in the NBA.”Teammate Josh Smith appreciates what Harden has done.“He’s done a good job at playing within himself and making his teammates better,” Smith said. “We’ve been doing a good job at helping him reach the goals he’s been able to accomplish this season. Teams pay a lot of attention to him. He’s able to draw a lot of attention and so he becomes a decoy.”Harden does have at least one detractor regarding his frequent trips to the free-throw line.“He knows how to throw his body around and throw his arms around and a little bit of flopping,” Barnes said of the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Harden.When Harden found out he did not win the MVP award, he tried to downplay it after his team’s shootaround ahead of Game 1 of this series.“It’s tough,” he said. “But it’s the second round of the playoffs. I got more, better things to worry about and that’s the Clippers.”The Clippers have given the Rockets and Harden plenty to worry about. Harden is averaging 24.5 points, 9.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds through four games. He’s averaging 9.0 free-throw attempts, but in two of the losses he combined for just 11.He admits the Clippers’ stout defense has been disruptive.“We’re not really moving on the offensive end,” said Harden, 25. “We’re pretty much stagnant, so it makes it easier for them to kind of load up and play their normal defense. They’re a really good defensive team and they’re not going to change.”If the Rockets don’t force a change, they will be done.“We’ve got Game 5 back at the house and it’s really win or go home,” he said. “Our backs are against the wall, and we’ve got to show up.”Staff writer Mark Medina contributed to this reportHARDEN FILEHigh School: ArtesiaCollege: Arizona StateHeight: 6-foot-5Position: Shooting guard2014-15 statistics: 27.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 7.0 apg Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error HOUSTON >> James Harden makes his living making life miserable for opposing guards. Whether he’s pulling up for a 3-point shot, or taking the ball into the paint for a basket or to draw a foul, he has been a handful this season. So much so that the Artesia High graduate finished second in the NBA’s MVP voting behind Golden State’s Steph Curry.“He’s tough,” said the Clippers’ Matt Barnes, whose team Tuesday will take on Harden and the Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals at 6:30 p.m. at Toyota Center. The Clippers lead 3-1.“He’s mastered drawing fouls,” Barnes continued, “which makes it very difficult to guard him, on top of probably being the most skilled one-on-one player in the game.”Clippers coach Doc Rivers is equally complimentary. “He can just do everything,” Rivers said. “He can go left or right, you know, he’s a great shooter and … he’s never playing at the same speed. So it makes it very hard to get a body on him.”When Harden toiled at Artesia, it was obvious he was a quality high school player — he averaged 18.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists his senior year. But Harden has turned himself into an NBA superstar, and his dedication is likely a big reason why.That commitment paid off when he played for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA World Championships this past summer.“FIBA helped me out a lot with learning how to be a leader and learning how to play at a high level,” said Harden, also know as “The Beard.” “Those games, we were competing for a gold medal (and got it). So that carried over into the season and training camp.”Specifically, Harden intimated the experience helped him with his overall level of concentration.