Feb. 21, 2012
The official Gameday Program at each Badgers home series includes player profiles. This feature is just one of the exclusive items available inside the program, which is available for purchase on game day at Kohl Center or online at NationalWClub.com. Today we look at junior guard Taylor Wurtz, who was featured in the program for the game against Michigan State on Thursday, Feb. 16. | Purchase Gameday Programs
By Stephanie Richter
To say that junior guard, Taylor Wurtz, is having a break out year would be an understatement. Not only is the six-foot guard leading the team in points per game with 16.2, she is also grabbing the most rebounds, recording 178 on the season. Wurtz’s hard work ethic in practice and games is starting to show in the 2012 season.
Idolizing Pistol Pete
Like most basketball players, Wurtz got involved with basketball with influence from her dad. Her passion and dedication for the sport since a young age has helped her to be the player she is today. She is even also jokingly known to sleep with her basketball.
“(My dad) showed me one of my favorite basketball players, Pistol Pete Maravich,” said Wurtz. “He (Maravich) brought the basketball everywhere with him and even slept with it, so that’s where the idea came from.”
Maravich is an ideal player for Wurtz to look up to, as he still holds many NCAA records, most impressively his 44.2 points per game average. This year, Wurtz’ role on the team has changed from her first two seasons, as Wurtz is now the go-to player for the Badgers.
“My freshman and sophomore years, I was obviously more of a defender and go-get-the-rebound type of player,” said Wurtz. “And now this year, my role has changed to where I need to score for our team to be as successful as possible. It’s definitely different, but it’s something I love. I had a scorer’s mentality all throughout high school, so it’s something I embrace.”
Just by looking at her numbers, you can tell that Wurtz’ role has changed this season. Her freshman and sophomore years, Wurtz averaged 6.5 and 8.3 points per game, respectively. She has nearly doubled that average this season, putting up 16.2 points per game.
One of the most improved players
Based on scoring averages from 2010-11, Wurtz ranks third in the Big Ten as one of the most improved scorers, with an increase of 7.9 points per game. But she hasn’t forgotten about rebounding, as it’s still a key aspect to her play.
“I think I get so many rebounds just from playing basketball so much,” said Wurtz. “And my teammates do a good job of boxing out, something that we need to work on because I’m not the best at boxing out, but I just want the ball and have a passion to go get it.”
Wurtz leads the team with 178 total rebounds, 40 offensive and 138 defensive, for an average of 7.4 per game. The next closest Badger is Anya Covington with 150 boards.
Wurtz credits her team a lot for her successes, both in games and in practice.
“All of our coaches, especially Bobbie (Kelsey) work us out so hard in practice,” said Wurtz. “Every day we go hard in practice and I think that it has made a huge difference in my game.”
Working on her shot
Practicing and perfecting her shot has been key for the 3-point shooter. Wurtz is known for her unique shot with a side-spin that is different from the normal backwards rotation of the basketball. When asked about her shot and if she has been trying to change it in the offseason, she couldn’t help but laugh.
“I’ve been trying to,” said Wurtz. “It still rotates funny, but I definitely think there has been some improvement in it.”
The improvement can be seen in her numbers as well, as Wurtz has scored in double-digits in 23 of the 24 games this season. Six of those games have been 20 points or more, tying her career high of 27 coming at home in the overtime loss to Iowa. She has been the team’s leading scorer in 17 games this season.
Moving up the career lists
As a junior, Wurtz is climbing the ladder for many career records at Wisconsin. She is currently in second place for career 3-point percentage, shooting 37.4 percent. She also is tied for seventh in 3-pointers made with 146 and ninth with 390 in 3-point attempts.
But for Wurtz, the team is what’s on her mind before games, not her records.
“No, records aren’t in my head at all,” said Wurtz. “I just go out and play, and try to focus on one possession at a time and one game at a time.”
Help from her teammates
Her teammates have also been stepping up in league play to take the pressure off Wurtz, as three Badgers average double-digit scoring in Big Ten games. Covington and Morgan Paige are putting up 14.3 and 12 points per game, respectively.
“With Morgan stepping up big, her whole Big Ten season has been great,” said Wurtz. “Her being able to hit open shots and then create stuff off the dribble just opens everything up. It takes the pressure off of me or Anya (Covington) to score.”
A true team player, Wurtz often credits her teammates when talking about the player she is today. She wants the Badgers to finish off the season strong and keep rolling with the late successes so far in the season.
“It’s definitely our goal to win every game that we go into and just obviously make a run in the Big Ten Tournament as well,” said Wurtz.