After transferring from Louisville, sophomore guard Tiera Stephen is anxious to take to the court as a Badger.[/media-credit]When practice begins for the Wisconsin women’s basketball team, Tiera Stephen is in uniform and on the court.Her name appears on the team’s roster — a 5-foot-7 sophomore from Dayton, Ohio, it says — sandwiched between post players Tara Steinbauer and Ashley Thomas.But when the lights dim in the Kohl Center and the team takes the court in its trademark cardinal-and-white, Stephen trails behind in street clothes, ineligible to play this season in compliance with NCAA transfer rules.“It is difficult, of course, because if you’re a competitor — especially at a top Division I program — it’s very hard, the fact that I can’t play,” Stephen said. “Being at practice, that’s not bad because I have fun, and I’m working out with the team, so that’s kind of fun. But the hardest part is when they’re struggling and not doing so well.”Making those spells even harder to swallow is where Stephen was 10 months ago — on the court in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis with her Louisville teammates, attempting to shock perennial power Connecticut in the Cardinals’ first ever championship game appearance.The No. 6 ranked high school player coming out of Ohio in 2008, Stephen joined a Louisville squad that featured first-team All-American and 2009 WNBA first overall selection, Angel McCoughtry. The Cardinals won a school-record 34 games, and as a No. 3-seed, dispatched Liberty and LSU and then notched upsets against No.2-seeded Baylor and two No.1-seeds, Maryland and Oklahoma, to reach the sport’s biggest stage.Although Stephen played just four minutes in the loss to the Huskies, she said the unforgettable experience was “surreal.”“It was a dream come true,” she said. “When you start out at a program at the beginning of the year, that’s always your big dream: to make it to the tournament. And then for us to make it that far? It was just a dream come true. It seemed like a movie, that’s how I describe it. It was crazy.”However, while Stephen enjoyed the ride and the success on the court, she said she didn’t feel comfortable at the school, prompting her to look elsewhere for her remaining three years of eligibility. But where?To decide on her future, Stephen looked to her past — when she was a standout at Chaminade Julienne Catholic in Dayton and was being recruited by Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone and former assistant Tasha McDowell, now the head coach at Western Michigan.“We went through the proper channels of being able to contact her,” Stone said of how the transfer came to fruition. “And she came on campus, and it was a connection that was rekindled and one that fit. And I think she’ll be the first to tell you, this is the place for her.”And though a transfer brings with it a complete life change — a new city, school, coaching staff and teammates — Stone said the transition for Stephen has been seamless.“Her leadership ability is present already,” Stone said. “She’s got an infectious personality that carries over on the court, and we see big things for Tiera.”“A lot of things are different in terms of how it was last year for her and how they are this year,” Stone added. “She’s fit in perfectly. The minute she stepped on campus and met our players, she fit in. She was a part of the family immediately.”In becoming part of that family, Stephen had to figure out what her role would be in this betwixt and between season for her. Per NCAA rules, Stephen is not allowed to travel with the team, something Stone said is particularly hard to deal with, but she nevertheless has found her place, running the scout team and pushing incumbent point guard Rae Lin D’Alie on a daily basis.It didn’t take long for D’Alie, a senior and four-year starter, to be impressed with her likely successor.“Man, she is quick — she’s probably the quickest person I’ve ever had to guard,” D’Alie said. “Laterally, she’s so quick, and vertically she’s quick. She’s got a great pull-up, and her penetration is unbelievable. She can draw anybody to her to kick for that shot, no matter where she is on the court, and that’s something that is going to really help next year.”Ah, yes. Next year. When Stephen will finally be able to don a game jersey, instead of just the practice version.Her charge? To replace D’Alie, whose sustained success as a Badger is growing more and more evident as she inches closer to the conclusion of her UW career. Last week, the Waterford, Wis., native topped 800 career points, and she needs just four rebounds to reach 400 for her career. Earlier this season, she moved into third place on the school’s all-time assists list.Most impressive, D’Alie is on pace to break the school record for games played and consecutive games played next Sunday when Wisconsin hosts Indiana — a record currently co-owned by legendary Badgers Tamara Moore (1998-02) and LaTonya Sims (1997-01).Despite those high standards, Stephen said she can’t wait to get back between the lines.“[I am] a little nervous because people are probably expecting big things out of me, but I’m excited to get out there and do it,” Stephen said. “Sitting out a year, it’s kind of tough, but I’ll have a chip on my shoulder, I guess you could say.”
No. 8 seed Syracuse (22-10, 11-5 Atlantic Coast) is set to take on No. 1 seed Connecticut (33-0, 16-0 American Athletic) at 6:30 p.m. on Monday in Storrs, Connecticut. SU is coming off an 85-65 first-round win over No. 9 seed Iowa State, a game in which three Orange scorers tallied over 20 points, including a career-high 24 from freshman 3-point specialist Gabby Cooper. UConn enters the contest fresh off a commanding 116-55 win over No. 16 seed Albany in its first round matchup, the 17th time this season that the Huskies have scored at least 90 points.Here’s what to know about UConn ahead of Monday’s matchup.All-time series: Connecticut leads, 38-12Last time they played: The Huskies smashed SU, 82-51, in the 2016 NCAA national championship game in Indianapolis. Breanna Stewart led the charge for UConn, posting 24 points in the program’s record fourth-straight national title win. Cornelia Fondren had 16 points for the Orange on 60 percent shooting, but SU shot just 10.5 percent from 3 in the defeat.The UConn report: The Huskies are the undisputed best women’s team in the nation, and have beaten 10 ranked team this season. Their closest game of the year was against then-No. 4 Maryland, winning by only six over the Terrapins. UConn has scored over 100 points an NCAA-leading five times this season, and has four players averaging double-digit points, with two averaging over 20.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textKatie Lou Samuelson is the Huskies’ star, averaging 20.8 points per game over an average of 31.3 minutes per game. She’s made 112 3-pointers on 259 attempts, good for 43.2 percent. The Huskies have the No. 3 scoring offense in the country, averaging 87.5 points per game, and the No. 6 scoring defense in the country, allowing an average of just 53.8 points per game.FiveThirtyEight.com currently gives the Huskies a 49 percent chance to win the tournament, and a 98 percent chance to beat the Orange on Monday.How SU beats UConn: After UConn’s opening round game against No. 16 Albany, Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma said that before every game, he asks his assistant coaches what his team would have to do to lose. Against the Great Danes, the coaching staff said that the team would have to miss “a lot” of shots. But against No. 8 SU on Monday, a team that was arguably underseeded and last met the Huskies in the national championship game, UConn doesn’t have as much room for failure as it did against Albany.For the Orange to win, it will have to put together a perfect game in all facets. Brittney Sykes and Alexis Peterson will need to match or exceed their combined scoring average of nearly 43, and Gabby Cooper will have to step up from behind the arc like she did against Iowa State. The only way to beat a powerful offense like UConn is to match it shot for shot. So Sykes, Peterson and Cooper will all probably have to finish the game with over 20 points for the second straight game.Defensively, SU needs to focus on shutting down Samuelson. The sophomore sharpshooter ranks fourth in 3-pointers made and 12th in 3-point shooting percentage in the nation. She also averages 3.39 3-pointers per game, and the Orange zone can’t let her get hot from beyond the arc.The Huskies aren’t used to playing in close games, so if the Orange can keep Monday’s game within ten points, it has potential to pull the upset. Samuelson is the only UConn player that averages more than 31 minutes per game. A tightly contested game could potentially tire out a UConn side that isn’t used to running for 40 minutes straight, and give a well-conditioned SU team the upper hand.Stat to know: 108 — The Huskies have won 108 straight games, the all-time mark in the NCAA. Nov. 17, 2014, was the last time UConn lost, dropping an 88-86 overtime game at Stanford. UConn has not been ranked lower than No. 3 during the streak and boasts a dominant 155-1 record over its past 156 games.Player to watch: Katie Lou Samuelson, Guard, No. 33Samueslon is UConn’s replacement for Stewart, who graduated last year and now plays for the Seattle Storm of the WNBA, and she’s all but filled the role perfectly for the Huskies this season. She’s shooting 49.3 percent from the field, and her 20.8 points per game ranks No. 1 for the Huskies. Samuelson is also one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, which is awarded annually to college basketball’s player of the year. Napheesa Collier, a forward for the Huskies, was named a finalist as well. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 19, 2017 at 3:29 pm Contact Matt: [email protected]
Kakramadu XI representing La on Sunday put up a resilient show to qualify for the final of the McDan Peace Tournament when the pipped Teshie XI by a lone goal.”‹The game was watched by a large crowd including Dr. Daniel Mckorley CEO of McDan Group of Companies and sponsor of the programme which is aimed at promoting peace and unity in the La DadeKotopon Electoral Area in Accra.”‹Also in attendance was Hon. Nii Namoale, the Member of Parliament who commended the spectators for comporting themselves, especially the losers who accepted defeat in good faith.Dr. McKorley urged the fans to hold on to the peace Ghana is enjoying and not create violence. He said living in peace is what everyone wants. “We are one people. We should not kill ourselves because of elections. It is just a democratic process. After voting go home and relax, when it is time for the result, come out and listen, no need to fight when jubilating or defeated” he said.”‹He thanked the media and all who have contributed to the success of the McDan Peace Tournament which has been attracting large crowds every time. He commended the footballers who have thrilled the fans and the coaches from Osu, La, Teshie and NunguaMaxwell Quaye of La Kakramadu who had a good game thanked McDan for thinking about sportsmen and using sports to promote peace.Frank Sowah and George Adjetey, players of Teshie XI said the game was good and in football one side has to lose, so they will work harder next time to win.”‹The tournament continues today Monday with the other semifinal between Aviation and Court all based in La, thus going to produce fireworks and excitement. Both have large following and it will another big game. The winner will be decided on December 4 at the La Salem Park at the La Presby SHS. The ultimate winner will take home $1,000 plus a giant trophy and the runners up will take $500 plus medals.