Badger women's basketball fans held their breath as senior starting point guard Alyssa Karel, the team's top scorer last season, hopped off the court with a knee injury last Thursday. As it turns out, Karel's injury isn't serious, and she's expected to return in a couple weeks.
But it's significant that Karel was hurt in an exhibition game against Winona State, a decent Division II club. Even without Karel in the second half, the Badgers won handily, 82-53. They went on to smoke UW-Superior, a Division III squad, on Sunday, 77-40.
How these one-sided exhibitions help the Badgers, other than financially, is unclear.
UW men's coach Bo Ryan last week stated his rationale for scheduling exhibitions against Division III teams, saying state schools love playing at the Kohl Center. "They bring their top donors for their institutions. They reward those people with tickets for the game."
How great that must be for the UW-La Crosse crowd, which saw their Eagles get blown out by the Badgers, 84-59, last week. Thankfully, Jon Leuer didn't tear his ACL in service of a good time for the La Crosse boosters.
There's no rule compelling teams to play these funny little games. Marquette, for example, plays only one exhibition. Last week, in place of a second, the school hosted Virginia, coached by former UW assistant Tony Bennett, for a full-day closed-door workout with scrimmages and half-court drills-which, of course, do not bring in revenue.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams called the scrimmage "productive" and said he may do away with exhibitions altogether. Now there's an idea.