Feb. 10, 2014
Watch Kelsey's News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head women's basketball coach Bobbie Kelsey spoke about the Badgers' loss at Indiana and previewed UW's game on Wednesday vs. Minnesota in today's press conference at the Kohl Center.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Kelsey's remarks can be found below.
Coach Kelsey: We're coming off a disappointing loss to Indiana. They played really well. We played well in the second half, but obviously the game is two halves, 20 minutes each, 40 minutes total. I know the kids were disappointed and we were as well.
With Minnesota, they're on a little win streak here. Of course, our men's hockey beat the Minnesota hockey team and then the women have them. Now we, I don't know if this is a Minnesota week, but we've got to do our part for sure.
So we're excited to play them. We'll see what happens.
Question: Michala has played so well this year. Has it been hard for her? I don't know if she's one of the leaders on the team or not, but has it been hard for her to come in as a transfer, play really well, maybe take some playing time away from people who may have played otherwise, and be a leader on this team. Is that difficult for her at all?
Coach Kelsey: I don't see that as a difficulty for her. She's naturally someone people look to. She's not real, real vocal, but she's vocal enough. She's one of the voices that I hear in practice and in games.
It's a lot on her shoulders to come in, but I think she's used to that being a highly touted high school player and then having the opportunity to go to Connecticut. Obviously, her role is different here than there.
She's done a great job for us and been pretty consistent in that way. It's just a lot to have to score and guard some of these bigger kids. So we're just trying to figure out a way to help her with that. Other than that -- and making her free throws. She's done a nice job for us as far as being a leader on and off the floor.
I don't think it's been hard for her though. She hasn't expressed that to me.
Question: The challenges of facing Minnesota, what would be the top three?
Coach Kelsey: Obviously, the top scorer in our league in Banham, Rachel Banham. I had an opportunity to work with her at USA Basketball. She's a very talented player. She does a lot for their team.
I think the challenge is you can't shut somebody like that down. She's going to get her points. We've done a good job in the past of limiting her touches and trying to make it hard for her to score. Scorers are used to scoring, so we're trying to make her a passer and then shut that down. If she doesn't have the ball in her hands, it's hard for her to score without the ball, but she is very talented. That's going to be another challenge for us, but that's every game. Every team in the Big Ten has a scorer that you have to pay attention to. She's a very talented one.
But they have other kids too. (Amanda) Zahui on the inside. She's a beast in there. (Sari) Noga can shoot. (Micaëlla) Richécomes in and she tore us up last time. We're upstairs right now trying to figure out what we're going to do with those players. They've been struggling a little bit too, but they're on a little win streak here.
Everybody's looking for that win. Everybody needs it. We need it. So it will be a good game.
Question: The club competing every minute, every game, do you see that every minute?
Coach Kelsey: Other than this last game, I would say yes. We had to pick it up at the end. We gave up too many points in the beginning. I know Indiana scored 40 points in the first half, and that's not usually how we play. Sometimes it's the other way. We don't give up many in the first half, and then we give up some in the second half. Our press looked good. We had an opportunity to get some steals and easy buckets. But we're not a group that can press the whole game, but we'll use it in spurts and where we think we can take advantage of some opportunities and make other people bring the ball up the court, handle it and run the offense.
The games before that, obviously, the Nebraska game, it came down to us having the last shot, and we just didn't execute it. The game before, Michigan State, we lost by four. We had Nicole (Bauman) out with sickness and Taylor (Wurtz) was ill. Not to make excuses, that's just what it was.
The kids are fighting. They're working hard. It's hard when you're losing and you're not playing up to your potential. It's easy to point fingers and find excuses, but they're not like that and we're not like that as coaches. We just try to motivate them, keep it positive. It will turn around for us. We're just hoping sooner rather than later.
We have six more guaranteed games. The ones on your schedule that you know you're going to play are five regular season and then you get the first game of the tournament. After that, those are extra, and you want some extra ones. But Taylor, Morgan (Paige), and Daria (Kryuchkova), they have six guaranteed games left. It's up to those other kids to understand that one day they're going to be in that spot too.
For seniors it's a little more bittersweet because you know you don't have that many left. We want to take them out on a high note and help them to go out on top. We're all working hard to do that for them.
Question: I don't know if this is the best time for reflection, but is it easier or harder to win at this level as a head coach than you thought it would be coming in?
Coach Kelsey: No, it's not easier. It's definitely harder. Even at the top schools, it is pressure, but it's a different pressure. Obviously, when you're the head coach, you feel it more than anybody else.
So I sympathize with all those head coaches that I used to say, "oh, all they have to do is this. All you have to do is that." No, it's not that way, because everything's on you as a head coach. You've got to make sure the assistants are given an opportunity to help you because sometimes you think you have the best idea and maybe it's not. Then you've got to motivate the kids and keep them positive when things aren't going our way.
I've had my moments, of course. You've probably seen them. So I'm trying to make sure I keep myself at an even keel, but it's hard. This year's been harder for me than any other year. I don't know why. It just seems harder that we've got all these pieces. Now you've got to put them together and try to get them playing well at one time.
We've seen that, and when we get that, it looks good, but it's not as easy. So all those people that are sitting in their living rooms and talking about the football game, "well, all you got to do is this," I'm one of them too. Now I just have to remember, no, it's not that easy.
But it's fun. It's a challenge. It's what we are here to do. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it, but it's not. So it can be fun, but it can be nerve-racking too, especially when you have people that have never coached try to help you. Please don't help me, just come cheer. That's what we need.
Question: The lone freshman that gets some time, Malayna Johson, how is she coming along?
Coach Kelsey: You know, Malayna (Johnson) did really well in this last game. She's tall. We forget how long she is. When they have these post players that we need to take (Michala Johnson) off of, her sister, we put her on them because they have problems shooting over Malayna. She's tall.
We're going to use her more. She did score in this last game. She had a nice jumper over the top and a nice layup.
For freshmen, it's hard. Sometimes they don't know what they're supposed to be doing. When you're behind or you need to score, sometimes you've got to go with the sure thing rather than the kids that may or may not. You're not sure they're going to have a good game.
Malayna is one we need to use probably a little bit more. Even if she can't score, she'll keep the other girls from scoring, which she has done a good job with that. I think she has gained confidence as she's played more.