Feb. 13, 2013
MADISON, Wis. – It’s only two words but it’s a powerful motto for the remainder of the season – ‘Finish Strong.’ That’s what the Wisconsin women’s basketball team wants to do with only five regular-season games remaining.
“I just need people that are going to finish strong and have the mindset that we need to finish strong,” said head coach Bobbie Kelsey. “… you want your team to always be getting better throughout the year. You don't want them to go the other way. That's why we have the ‘Finish Strong’ bracelets.”
The Badgers unveiled their black ‘Finish Strong’ bracelets last week and will put them to work on Thursday when they host 18th-ranked Purdue at 7 p.m. in the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin has had a tough season this year after losing two players, including 2012 third-team All-Big Ten pick Taylor Wurtz, to injury and two players who chose to transfer. That left only nine eligible players on the UW squad but the Badgers haven’t let the lack of numbers stop them. They have already surpassed their win total from 2011-12 and are looking for more.
“It's impressive considering the adversity we've been through,” said Kelsey of her team’s schedule. “It's nice to know that we can play some tough teams and come out on top in some of these games. But no matter who you're playing, you want to win the game.”
Wisconsin is currently 11-13 on the season and tied for 10th in the Big Ten Conference at 3-8. Not all that impressive of a record but if you look at the fact that UW has been within five points with less than five minutes to play in seven losses this season, it could have been a completely different story.
“I think if we played some teams we played in the beginning of the year now, it might be a different situation. I don't know,” said Kelsey.
While the season isn’t over yet, Kelsey has to be thinking about next season as she loses only one senior – point guard Tiera Stephen – while returning Wurtz and sophomore AnnMarie Brown, who is out with a torn ACL. Kelsey also adds junior transfer Michala Johnson as well as two signees to next season’s roster.
But for Kelsey, Stephen is one of the main reasons this year’s team needs to ‘Finish Strong.’
“And Tiera is our only senior and we want to finish strong for her especially because she doesn't have another opportunity,” said Kelsey. “If you don't finish strong for any other reason, go out and play your heart out because you know she won't have another opportunity next year.”