Dec. 4 against Miami, with 11:50 left in the first half, redshirt senior and leading scorer Michala Johnson took an awkward misstep, twisting her left knee. An MRI later confirmed she had torn her ACL for the third time in her playing career.The 66-54 loss that day became a side note as head coach Bobbie Kelsey described a devastated locker room, not because they lost a star player that helps them win, but because Johnson, who many players look up to, might have played her last game as a Badger.After giving few days to let the dust settle, redshirt senior Cassie Rochel said the team knew they had to stop dwelling on the setback and view it as an opportunity to come closer together. The reality was that it was time for others to step up and fill the void. Players with originally smaller roles, like junior guards Dakota White and Nicole Bauman, now had the chance to show their full value to the team and maximize their opportunities on the court.“When Michala is shooting 15 shots per game, that’s 15 shots that other people need to pick up the slack for,” Rochel said.Kelsey echoed the thoughts of Rochel, adding that every team suffers a significant injury at one point or another. What really defines a team, Kelsey emphasized, was not how they do when everything is going their way, but how they respond to adversity.“The thing you learn about your team is if people buck up and play, and really step up to the plate and challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zone and do more. Just when you think you’re doing more, do more,” Kelsey said. “Everybody experiences something; you can’t just quit. It’s either fight or flight.”Johnson’s injury thrust junior guard Tessa Cichy into the starting lineup, who is averaging 8.0 points per game, while Bauman (12.9 ppg) and junior guard Dakota Whyte (10.4 ppg) have shouldered the bulk of the scoring load.As Johnson’s roommate, Rochel said the reality of the injury hit Johnson hard at first, but she has since come to terms with her new role as a supporter of the team from the sideline, with valuable experience she can still bring to the table as a member of last season’s All-Big Ten Team.“She’s such a mature person that she would never bring anyone down because of it, and that’s one thing that speaks volumes about her and her leadership,” Rochel said. “Leading from the sideline is something she does really well—everyone looks at her when she speaks and she has so much maturity and experience. Everything she says is for a reason and it really shows.”Rochel said Johnson’s younger sister, sophomore Malayna Johnson, has had difficulty witnessing her sister go through the injury again, but has ultimately given her more of an opportunity to gain some experience and hone her skills against Big Ten competition.While the intriguing prospect of the two sisters being on the court together again next year remains a possibility, it will require approval from the NCAA committee to grant Johnson a second redshirt senior season, which is not guaranteed.One thing Rochel noted about Malayna was her improved tenacity on both sides of the ball, a trait that her older sister has mastered on the court. Against rival Minnesota Jan. 4, Malayna scored a season-high nine points off the bench in a 72-60 loss.“She’s grown leaps and bounds from when she started, and she’s a lot more aggressive,” Rochel said. “I think it motivated her to do it for her sister in a way, so as unfortunate as it was, it really was a positive thing for Malayna.”From a basketball perspective, Kelsey said Johnson’s versatility on the offensive side of the ball is the most difficult aspect of her game to replace for the rest of the season.“We just knew that when we gave her the ball, she would be able to put a lot of pressure on the defense to score. She’s very crafty around the basket and can hit a 15-footer. She can put it on the floor and get to the rim and finish, make free throws,” Kelsey said. “She’s had to have a lot of attention, so that takes some pressure off of other people.”Senior Jacki Gulczynski said while the loss is obviously tough, the Badger’s ultimate goals haven’t wavered as they look to finish the season stronger than ever.“The games are dwindling down, but obviously each one is important,” Gulczynski said. “At the end of the day you have to put five out there, and it hurts not having Michala out there, but we’re doing what we can without her.”
Auston Matthews is on a tear.The third-year center scored his fourth goal of the postseason Friday night in the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 win over the Bruins in Game 5. Toronto leads the series 3-2. Matthews one-timed a Jake Muzzin pass past Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask to break a tie that stood for the first 41:33 of the game. The goal survived a Boston challenge for goalie interference and was Toronto’s first of the period. Kasperi Kapanen added the game-winning marker minutes later.Auston Matthews says all of the goals he’s had called back during the regular season were worth it to have one stand a review in the playoffs: “I was just praying they were going to call it a goal.”— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 20, 2019Matthews has found his stride in the 2019 playoffs; he has five points in five games this year after posting just seven points in his first two postseasons (13 games).The Leafs will have the opportunity to close out the Bruins at home on April 21 at 3 p.m.
1 Tottenham captain Younes Kaboul has dismissed reports linking him with a move to Serie A.The French centre-back, 28, has been an ever-present in Mauricio Pochettino’s team this term after being linked with a switch away from White Hart Lane this summer.And now according to reports in Italy, long-time admirers Lazio and Fiorentina are keen to sign the powerful player and will step up their interest in the January transfer window.But Kaboul, appointed captain by Pochettino, has made his intentions clear and confirmed he wants to stay at the club.“I still have a contract until June 2016 with the Spurs, I’m very happy,” the former Portsmouth defender said. Younes Kaboul