In more cases than not, an inconsistent season in any sport tends to result in no postseason play and evaluation as a team prepares for the following year.
According to Shirley Egner, the head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point women’s basketball, with the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament just days away.
“Well, this is A-typical for us,” Egner said, when asked about how she has kept the team focused in spite of the peaks and valleys this season has provided. “We’re used to being the hunted instead of being the hunter; we’ve had a very inconsistent year this year, due to injuries, due to youth, and it has been a challenge to stay motivated to be able to get that third win after back to back wins, which we’ve been able to do once, versus when we’ve had back to back losses.
“It has been a challenge,” Egner admitted. “For whatever reason, at times during the year, we’ve just been inconsistent. That’s something we’re not going to correct in a week.We’ve got the first round in the conference tournament, and after that we could be playing a week from Saturday or we could be done.”
This season’s struggles were not caused by a lack of effort from the players or coaches. Hampered by injuries for part of the season, sophomore guard Lauren Anklam is now one of the leaders for a senior-laden Pointer squad and averaging a team-leading 10.2 points this season. Additionally, Anklam is ready to increase her production with postseason play right around the corner.
“I feel like you have to up your game. Everyone else is coming out to compete and to keep their spots, so you have to bring everything you’ve got,” Anklam said. “For me, it’s just competing, playing for 40 minutes and making good decisions while I’m out there on the floor doing what I can to help our team succeed.”
As one of the team’s captains, this year, Anklam has largely impacted the team from behind the three-point arc. One of the games she did not play was a 58-50 loss at UW-Superior, a game in which the Pointers shot only one for nine from three-point territory. However, in a rematch against the WIAC Champions on Senior Day this past Saturday, Anklam’s presence was felt as she tallied 11 points, obtained three rebounds, aided in an assist and had two steals.
When speaking about Anklam, Coach Egner said, “She started last year as a freshman, and she’s only a sophomore but she’s a great leader. We like to play inside-out, and she’s definitely our outside punch.
“Last year if she missed two shots in a row she wouldn’t shoot it anymore. This year, she’ll continue to shoot if she misses two in a row and she’ll continue to take that shot There’s nobody I’d rather have step to the line and make clutch free throws, and that’s exciting for me for two more years to have a kid like that on our roster that is going to make in those pressured situations.”
Similarly, Coach Egner knows her team is very capable but has the potential for even more as the WIAC Tournament looms large.
“When we enter the conference tournament I like our chances as much as anybody,”Egner said. ” We’ve got a good basketball team. Our record just doesn’t show it. We’re not a bad basketball team. We’ve just been inconsistent.”
The team is 24-9 all-time in conference tournament play, and winners of seven conference-tournament titles, both being the most in WIAC history.The road will not be easy, but both Anklam and Coach Egner know the prize at the end is attainable.
“If we play Pointer basketball for 40 minutes during all three conference tournament games,” Egner said. ” We can’t have any mental lapses, any lulls; we need to be the aggressor. We need to go out, set the tone and play with passion for 40 minutes, and we will be able to win three games, even they’re three road games.”