September 27, 2020
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first_imgPATRICK STATZ-BOYER/Herald photo She stands a whopping 5-foot-3. She was recruited by only one Division-I school prior to her senior year high school state tournament. And only in her wildest dreams did she envision herself playing in the Kohl Center for the Wisconsin Badgers.But somehow freshman Rae Lin D’Alie, from Waterford, Wis., overcame all that, and she now finds herself starting for those same Badgers she could only dream about years ago.D’Alie has started every game this season. She ranks second in the Big Ten Conference in assists per game (4.89), seventh in steals (2.33) and ninth in field goal percentage (.479), each of which leads Wisconsin.UW head coach Lisa Stone simply can’t say enough about her.”She’s been a pure joy,” Stone raved. “She’s a coach’s dream. She commands the floor, wants to get better every day. She handles criticism very well and handles praise very well. She keeps her emotions in check, does not play like a freshman; she makes great decisions.”Prior to D’Alie’s senior year state tournament, she had only received offers from UCLA and UW-Parkside (Division II). But when Stone saw her play for the first time, she insisted that the Badgers begin to woo her immediately.”It took me five minutes. Then I said, ‘I got to have that kid,'” Stone continued. “She’s a leader, runs the floor, runs the show and is essentially the coach on the floor. I looked and I said, ‘That’s exactly what we need,’ so we went after her.”To say the offer from UW excited D’Alie is a drastic understatement.”Growing up as a little kid, you can only dream about playing [in the Kohl Center],” D’Alie explained. “You can’t take it for granted, and you just got to go out there and play hard.”Motivation doesn’t seem to be an issue for the rookie.”[Rae Lin is] very energetic,” teammate Caitlin Gibson added. “She’s bouncing off the walls half of the time. [She’s] always energized, intense and ready to go.”Anyone who has seen these Badgers play this season can see that D’Alie can dribble, shoot and pass the basketball. But her most impressive trait may be her exceptional guidance of the UW offense.”I think it’s important to have a point guard that has good leadership ability,” Gibson said. “She’s done that very well this season. She’s like a floor general; she sees the floor and passes to open people and is a good floor leader for us.””Growing up, when we’d have a backyard game, I’d be the one organizing and picking teams,” said D’Alie, who added that she one day would like to follow Stone’s footsteps into coaching. “I’d like to say that I’m kind of a natural born leader, but I think growing up the way I was raised helped shape me into the way I am today.”NBA players such as Mugsy Bogues, Spud Webb and Earl Boykins inspired D’Alie as a youngster, each proving that size is not an impossible obstacle to overcome.”I don’t believe in being ‘too small,'” D’Alie said confidently.Size hasn’t seemed to slow D’Alie down at all this season.”She does other things well to make up for her height,” Gibson said. “She’s a good passer, she’s quick, she can penetrate, and she can get out on the break.””It’s not the size of the dog; it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” Stone added. “She’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever met in my life. She does not play small; she plays low, and there’s a difference.”To say D’Alie has been a pleasant surprise would be another incredible understatement. She has exceeded everyone’s — including her own — initial expectations. What may be most impressive is the fact that she’s still only a freshman and has three-plus years of Badger basketball ahead of her.”I’m just looking to improve my game more and more,” D’Alie said. “And hopefully take those next couple of steps so hopefully I can leave Wisconsin with a Big Ten championship or a national championship.”last_img

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