Warhawks prepare for post season play
The invitations were somewhat expected, but both Pat Miller and Keri Carollo probably exhaled a bit when they become official Monday morning.
Both UW-Whitewater basketball coaches will have at least one more week of extensive work as they prepare their teams for the NCAA Division III tournament. Both earned at-large bids—the men for the 60-team field and the women for a 63-team field.
Both Whitewater teams will be on the road when the tournament starts.
The men’s team (22-5) will be at Elmhurst, Ill., to play Elmhurst (20-7) in a first-round game Friday. This is the 15th time a Warhawk men’s team has earned a national tournament bid.
The Warhawk women (22-4), who advanced to the final four last year and took third place, play Simpson (Iowa) College (24-3) on Friday at the College of Saint Benedict (Minn..)
Both Warhawk team are coming off disappointing losses in the WIAC tournament.
Miller’s men’s team lost to UW-Platteville in overtime in a WIAC semifinal last Thursday. But may have been blessing in disguise for the Warhawks.
“I think not playing (this past weekend) definitely helped us,” Miller said. “We got a little rest and a chance to focus on the (NCAA) tournament.’’
If the Warhawk men beat the Elmhurst on the Bluejays’ court, they will play Saturday against the winner of the Washington University (Mo.) vs. Lawrence University game. Washington University is the defending national champion.
All three WIAC men’s teams that earned national tournament bids are in the same sectional, meaning only one can make it to the final four. Platteville and Whitewater could meet in the round of 16, and either could meet Stevens Point in the round of eight.
Overall, the section includes nine teams that are ranked in the top 10 of the d3hoops.com poll, and 10 of the 11.
“It’s a loaded section,’’ Miller said. “So we knew wherever we were going that it was going to be a high-level game.’’
WIAC regular-season and tournament champion UW-Stevens Point (23-4) will be at St. Thomas (Minn.) to play Cornell (21-6) in a men’s tournament opener. UW-Platteville (22-5), the regular-season and tournament runner-up, heads to Wheaton, Ill., where it opens against Hope (21-7).
The Warhawk women are coming off their most disappointing showing of the season. Whitewater was held to eight points in the first half in a 61-34 loss to UW-Eau Claire last Thursday.
“I think it was one of those games where we didn’t come out aggressive in our perimeter shooting,” Carollo said Monday. “We didn’t shoot it well, and we got away from attacking in the post.”
Eau Claire packed its zone defense inside and held Warhawk center Tiffany Morton to seven points on just eight shots and six rebounds. The Warhawks launched 29 three-pointers, making only five.
Carollo expects Simpson’s tempo to be much more to the Warhawks liking.
“We played them last year in the sectionals,” Carollo said. “They like to run and press and are very up tempo. They shoot a lot of 3s and score a lot of points.”
That full-court, up-and-down pace should help the Warhawks get their game back in a groove, although the game is one of the few first-round matchups that pairs two top-16 teams.
The winner of the Whitewater/Simpson game plays the winner between Saint Benedictine (24-3) and Ripon College (17-8).
Just as the men, all three WIAC women teams that made the tournament are in the same bracket.
Regular-season and tournament champion UW-Stevens Point (24-3) will host a regional and open against Maryville (Mo.) (22-5). UW-Eau Claire (23-5) will be at Illinois Wesleyan and play DePauw (22-5).