Youthful, talented Badgers seek NCAA tourney birth

By on September 16, 2020

first_imgThe 2012 Wisconsin women’s volleyball team is no longer a team of freshmen without any college experience.The Badgers (5-1) are a year older and are looking to build on last season’s team that finished with a 16-16 overall record, going 8-12 in the Big Ten. The young Badgers showed flashes of great volleyball last season, including their upset of sixth-ranked Big Ten powerhouse Penn State.However, the Badgers struggled in most close matches, going just 1-3 in matches decided in five sets. Many pointed to Wisconsin’s inexperience for those close losses. But as head coach Pete Waite puts it, inexperience is no longer an excuse. “We talked a lot about our youth last year and we can’t talk about that anymore,” Waite said. “We’re more experienced. We’re looking to build the team chemistry, competitiveness and sustainability of quality play throughout the match.”The Badgers bring back athleticism in the middle of the court with the return of senior middle blocker Alexis Mitchell. Mitchell, already a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention selection in her career at Wisconsin, will look to continue to be the Badgers’ spark plug with her high-intensity play. Two other notable returning starters for the Badgers are sophomores Courtney Thomas and Ellen Chapman. Thomas, a setter, and Chapman, an outsider hitter, both made the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2011 and the duo’s return will be crucial to building team chemistry.“We’re really focusing on working and being a better team and being good teammates,” Mitchell said. “It’s getting better every day in practice, and we’re really making an effort to work on that in practice so when we’re on the court and playing in matches, it’s natural for us.”The Badgers’ chemistry will have to form early if they want to be able to be competitive in a Big Ten loaded with talented teams. Nebraska and Penn State are picked to be atop the conference once again and are ranked No. 1 and No. 4 in the nation, respectively, in the early part of the 2012 season. Wisconsin was the underdog in most of its matches last season, but hopes to be more competitive this season, especially against the top teams. “It’s a tough conference, but I think we can match up with anyone,” Thomas said. “If we play as hard as we can, we can beat anyone.”The Badgers kicked off their season Aug. 24 when they played in the South Florida Invitational. The Badgers went 2-1 while Thomas and Chapman were named to the all-tournament team. UW returns home for the annual Inntowner Invitational at the Field House beginning Sept. 7. Other notable games on the schedule include home games against both Penn State and Nebraska Sept. 28 and Nov. 18, respectively. When the Badgers travel to Penn State Nov. 4, the match will be aired live on ESPN2.But Wisconsin will rely on contributions from its role players if they want to stay competitive in these challenging match-ups. Waite said that they have already seen contributions from many of the young players.“I think somebody who’s been stepping up already is [junior outside hitter] Julie Mikaelsen,” Waite said. “She has played a role in past years but she has really stepped up her game and made improvements in the spring and the summer. [Sophomore defensive specialist] Deme Morales is doing more in the ball handling role than she did last year, so that means we’re more solid there. And [sophomore outside hitter] Crystal Graff is out there after knee surgery, so she’s … trying to get back to the level she was before the injury.”With additional experience comes higher expectations, and with higher expectations come bigger goals. Junior libero Annemarie Hickey is confident the team can build on its success last season:“I know we work really hard in practice and our team is going to do a lot of great things,” Hickey said. “We have a lot of confidence in each other and I think that’s a good start for us.”“We’ve got to build on last year,” Waite said. “We were .500 last year, so we want to get above .500 and make the [NCAA] tournament. That’s always our goal. It’s going to take a change of culture in the gym, but I like the intensity that our coaches and players have brought so far.”last_img read more

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British Open 2019 tech check: Tracing game improvement for the world’s best players

By on August 16, 2020

first_img“The top drive is 320 yards. Johnson is following with 315. We can do some cool features with those long drives and show it in fireworks mode. We take all of the long drives, put them into a group and send them all off at once.””Fireworks mode” is a pretty apt term considering the field at The Open this week will be looking to produce just that out on the course at Portrush.And who knows? Perhaps the man who gets his hands on the Claret Jug on Sunday may have done so with the aid of information he gleaned from Toptracer. British Open 2019: Jon Rahm feels at home at Royal Portrush British Open 2019: Justin Rose questions scheduling changes for 2019 majors British Open 2019: Tiger Woods lauds Brooks Koepka despite apparent Portrush snub PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — It does not matter whether you’re Tiger Woods or an aspiring top-shelf amateur, a club pro or merely a recreational golfer, the truth is any golfer who has picked up a club has at some point or another hit a duff shot.Don’t lie about it. You’ve done it, I’ve done it. Every professional golfer has at one point or another done it. It’s OK, it happens. After that initial fury bubbling up inside you subsides, you realize it’s all part of the learning process. Now that anecdotal learning experience of the driving range is being enhanced thanks to the Toptracer technology, which Omnisport checked out at Royal Portrush’s practice range ahead of the 148th British Open.For those unfamiliar with the company, the funky ball-tracking lines on broadcasts tracing the flight of a player’s shot are made possible by Toptracer.The initial idea essentially was to enhance the viewing experience of fans watching at home by tracking the flight of a ball and then adding graphics so you can see the height, trajectory and destination of a shot.In 2012, Toptracer expanded its reach to driving ranges in a bid to improve the experience off the practice mats.”I think this really suits every standard as a golfer. As a beginner your eye isn’t particularly well trained on what the golf ball could be doing and so very often you see when a beginner will look for a golf ball and see where it’s gone,” Paul Williams, General Manager of Toptracer Europe, told Omnisport. “By having the information right there in the [driving range] bay on a 21-inch touch screen, giving you feedback on how high it’s gone and what direction, gives them insight, education and a journey into the sport. “They instantly become more engaged, we’re seeing lots of our venues running beginner golf groups and booking straight onto improved courses because they’re getting hooked straight way.”Ever seen those funky lines and graphics showing the trajectory of a golf ball on TV or at the driving range?That’s the work of the folks at @ToptracerI had the pleasure of spending some time at their tent ahead of #TheOpen for @OmnisportNews— Peter Hanson (@PeterHanson89) July 17, 2019Even at just shy of 5.30 p.m. local time on Tuesday, when Omnisport visited the Toptracer tent, there were plenty of professionals honing their skills, and throughout the day the grandstand behind the practice range was packed with patrons trying to get a glimpse of their favorite golfers – a certain local hero by the name of Rory McIlroy proving a particularly popular draw.The LED screens to the left of the range — featuring Toptracer graphics — do provide a genuinely enhanced experience in this part of the week, but the players also gain useful information such as ball speed, curve and apex.The tournament range setup has been used at The Open since St. Andrews four years ago. “Each year more players are becoming more familiar with the technology available to them,” Williams said.”It’s quite interesting. We see very similar reactions from the best players in the world to people we see at our driving ranges, where they’ll hit a shot and after watching a second or two of ball flight they’ll look at the screen and go ‘right, what did the ball do?’ “It’s just for that confirmation of data that they’re looking for to improve their game and, for these guys here, making sure they’re in the best condition for The Open Championship.”We have some of the players’ caddies pop into the station to the side of the driving range. They’ll come in and ask for their player to be put up on the boards.  “Each of them can have their data on their warmup rounds, and obviously before they go out in the tournament — the tech is live until Sunday when they leave the range.”Tuesday at #TheOpen:Total Shots for the day: 14,817Longest drives of the day:#1 C. Kim 319.0#2 D. Johnson 314.9#3 K. Kisner 314.7#4 C. Shinkwin 312.9#5 M. Schmid 312.8— Toptracer (@Toptracer) July 16, 2019So, what about behind the scenes? If you’re imagining a futuristic room packed with funky gadgets, then you’d be very much mistaken. It’s a beautifully simple setup, with only a handful of staff in the tent with laptops and screens.One such man helping to bring the practice sessions to life is Dustin Thomas, who helps run Toptracer’s range operations.Part of his job involves hitting a few practice shots before the players arrive and picking which names to include on the LED board.”I pick and choose based on what they’re hitting, and we do like to listen to the fans and also the players,” he said, while demonstrating the different features available.”If someone is requested we like to choose them. But also we like to use the long hitters out there and use some pretty cool drives.”So, who’ve been the big hitters so far at the practice range at Royal Portrush?”Right now we have Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner and C. [Chan] Kim on the leaderboards. That was when the wind was kind of down,” Thomas added. In a bygone era it may have been a friend or relative offering “advice” on why your ball has gone inexplicably careering to the right.You lifted your head too soon, you over-rotated, you’re swinging too quickly. Yes, Dad, all right, I get it, that was a terrible shot. Related Newslast_img read more

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