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Kelsey preview final two games of regular season

<b>Head coach Bobbie Kelsey talks to her team during a time out.</b>

Head coach Bobbie Kelsey talks to her team during a time out.

Feb. 25, 2013

Archived news conference

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin women’s basketball team (11-16 overall, 3-11 Big Ten) wraps up the regular season with two games this week. Wisconsin hosts No. 20 Nebraska (21-6, 11-3) on Thursday for its annual Senior Night. Tip time is 7 p.m. from the Kohl Center.

The regular season wraps up on Sunday with a road game at Michigan State (20-6, 8-5). Tip off is at 1 p.m. CT from the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.

Head coach Bobbie Kelsey addressed the media on Monday afternoon, talking about her team’s recent play as well as Thursday’s Senior Night, honoring Tiera Stephen. Stephen, the only senior on the UW squad, will be honored in post-game ceremonies after the game vs. the Huskers.

A complete transcript of Kelsey’s remarks is below while you can also watch an archive of the video.    

Opening Statement:  We just wrapped up our game with Northwestern.  We're really disappointed we couldn't pull that one out.  The kids played hard.  We had some mental lapses on defense, and we let their shooters get open.  They knocked down the shots, to their credit.  They hit some very tough shots and timely shots.  We couldn't find the basket at the end.

I thought we had a nice opportunity at the end to get a shot off.  Jacki (Gulczynski) stumbled kind of trying to get to the rim.  I thought she probably should have just pulled up and tried to get a two because sometimes you don't realize how much time you have.

Again, the effort was there, but we just came up a little bit short.

This is the last regular season home game, as you mentioned.  When Tiera (Stephen) started the season, did you anticipate she'd be able to do as much for the team as she's done?

I really didn't.  I think Tiera didn't play to her ability last year.  For whatever reason, she didn't do that.  Again, I think being a senior and coming back, not all seniors do that, but some really the light turns on, and they really realize this is it.  I'm very pleased with Tiera's play.  Obviously, I don't like her turnovers, but she gives us so many other things, as far as defensively, running the offense, hitting a shot here and there, getting rebounds.  She does a lot for our team, and we'd be a different group without her out there.

Her leadership and her ability to get us in the offense when things are kind of breaking down, she really does a nice job of that.  She's come a long way.  She really has.  I'm proud of her.

Not to take anything away from Tiera's final home game, but in a sense, are you happy you only have one senior to recognize on Thursday?

Yeah, but Senior Night is always bittersweet.  You hate to see them go.  Sometimes that's not always the case, but you'd never say that. It is bitter and sweet because you know this is their last collegiate game in front of their home fans.  They come and they go.  You've got to graduate at some point.  There's no continued eligibility going on.  So you have to go out and you try to go out on a high note.

But having one senior, I think, Tiera did not anticipate being the only senior, obviously with some injuries and people moving into different classes.  She wound up being the only senior, but, again, she's done an excellent job for us.  I do hate to see her go.  I know she's going to do well with whatever she continues on with through her life.  She'll be great.

You opened the regular season for the Big Ten against Nebraska.  I think they've won nine games in a row right now.  What are your impressions of their team and the challenges they present?

They're playing very well.  I think they're playing more as a group.  I know a freshman in this last game had 19 points.  They're really picking up their campaign to get in that NCAA Tournament.  But, again, we're going to regroup and do what we need to do to play the game better.

I think for us it's more, not so much what the other team is doing, but our mental lapses in the critical time.  I think we need to really focus in on that and really buckle down when it gets tight.  Like I said, we've been in these games, but, again, I'm saying the same thing every week.  We try to win them.  It's not for lack of trying.  The kids are playing hard.

There's just one or two errors.  We don't have a big margin for error.  Sometimes when they have to sub, it kind of goes down a little bit because there's not as much experience on the floor at that time.  It's hard to play people 40 minutes every game.  I just have to pick my spots where I try to get them rest.

But they have to understand they have to play, the starters and the older kids.  They understand it.  But it doesn't always bode well for what we need them to do and need them to get some rest at different times in the game.

Bobbie, this might be a question for the end of the season, but I'll ask it anyway.  You're the only team to beat Penn State in the Big Ten season, and they win the conference championship.  That's a feather in your cap.  I suppose you could kind of use that film and say ‘Hey, we can do this on any given night.’

Yeah, we believe it.  The kids believe it.  We believe it as a staff.  Otherwise, we wouldn't be in these games.  We would just fold up the tent and leave and say, ‘Hey, we'll wait until next year.’ That's nobody's attitude, no one's, not coaches or players.

Because it's not fair to Tiera.  It's not fair to those who are trying to improve this year and get some experience while you're waiting for others to get healthy.

So you can't live on the ‘Oh, by the way, next year we'll have such and such.’  That's not fair.  You have to play this year out.  Beating Penn State was a big accomplishment for our kids, and being the only team thus far to have beaten them says a lot about what we are capable of.

Now again, you have to go out and play the game and do what you're supposed to do in the critical moments because it's coming down to we just make these few mistakes at the end, and those are the ones that turn the game and not in our favor. So we're going to watch the tape, not to be critical, just to learn and to understand where we can improve and make the corrections so that we don't -- we're not on the other side of this every time.

You've mentioned at the end of the games with the mistakes.  On one stat here, you've been within five points in the last five minutes in nine of the losses.  What is the connection between not being able to close out and maybe fatigue, if they're playing such heavy minutes.  Is that where they're making the mistakes?

That's some of it.  Some of it is me having to tell them more than I'm used to having to tell kids.  Being at a higher caliber school like Stanford, some of the things you don't have to tell them.  But again, it's not one thing. It's calling the right play at the right time at the right person. It's them understanding the scouting report and making sure they know shooters you can't leave, certain people you can, you take a chance.

Some of that is the other team stepping up. The ones you do leave, they get a shot or two, and it turns around.  It could be an offensive rebound. In this last game, we missed seven free throws, which is not really typical of our team.  We normally hit - Morgan (Paige) missed four, and she's normally one of our better free throw shooters.  You just make two of those - you're going to miss some, but seven is a lot.

But if you make some free throws and you box out and you don't give up a three here and there, then maybe you win the game.  Again, it's not one thing.  They are playing a lot of minutes, Morgan and Tiera and Cassie (Rochel).  They're playing a lot of minutes -- Jacki.  They all are.

Nobody wants that, but again, when you're that close, you've got to go with the experience sometimes.  If a young one steps up and show they can consistently help and contribute, I'll throw them out there.  I have no problem with that.  But sometimes the young ones don't have that game experience, end of the game, critical moment experience to be out there.  So I think they gain that in practice.

Sometimes they don't quite understand that.  Sometimes they want to just get thrown in the game.  It doesn't work like that. You have to show me you can be consistent and understand what we need, and then I'll give you an opportunity.

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