Nov. 5, 2012
• Watch Kelsey News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin women's basketball head coach Bobbie Kelsey spoke about the start of the season in this week's Monday press conference.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Kelsey's remarks can be found below.
Kelsey: Very good exhibition season, I guess if you're going to call it that. The kids played really well. I thought we had some areas we could have done better, but I was pleased with some of our freshmen that really came out and played really well, especially Nicole Bauman. She really did a nice job for us, and Dakota Whyte as well. Shannon Malone played a lot of minutes.
We're going to have to play some young ones this year, but that's how you learn. So we'll just have to roll with it.
Question: You guys really had to battle for the first half yesterday. Are there positives you can take away from that going away from the season, having to work hard even in a close game?
Kelsey: Oh, yeah, you play exhibitions to see where you are. Teams come in and really try to beat you. Concordia was a very nice team. They had some teams that were really aggressive. We need that because we know we're going to have to battle the whole year anyway.
It was a good test for us to battle and maybe be down and then battle back to get the lead and then continue on and not relinquish it.
Question: With what Nicole (Bauman) did yesterday, were you expecting that from a freshman, or was that a total surprise?
Kelsey: No, I've watched Nicole, recruited her the last year and a half, and I expected that from her. Like I've been saying the whole time, even before she played an official game, even at media day, Big Ten Media Day a week and a half ago, I knew Nicole would come in and do those things because she's shown those things in practice.
In high school, she's a very high energy player, very good scorer. She's not afraid. She doesn't play like a freshman. She plays her demeanor and her confidence level is very high. She almost looks like an upper classmen. You wouldn't be able to tell if you didn't know who she was.
So when kids come in with that kind of confidence not an arrogance, but a confidence. She knows she can play. She's aggressive. She knows what she's doing out there for the most part. If she doesn't, she'll make up for it with hustle. So I was not surprised at all about Nicole. I knew she would come out and really help us.
Question: Coach, last season was a lot about adjusting to a new offense, new coach, all that kind of stuff. How much more comfortable do your players seem in the system, just in the program under you now in your second year?
Kelsey: I think they would say they feel a lot more comfortable. Again, if you have a whole brand new situation with a coach and not being recruited by this person, it's difficult. So this year, my comfort level is better with them as well. I know who's going to do what. I know who's capable of doing what out there. We try to put them in a situation where they're going to look good.
So kids sometimes think they're not playing because of negative things. Sometimes it's matchup. Sometimes it's who's giving more at that time. So you have to remind them that we have confidence in everyone. It's just some games, some people shine more brightly than others in that particular game, but don't let that be a deterrent to you. Keep working hard. Continue to work.
Question: Coach, what do you think it's going to be like coaching against a former assistant and a former Wisconsin player in the regular season opener?
Kelsey: Well, I've never done it before. So it will be new. Kyle (Rechlicz) is a very good coach. She's going to have her kids playing hard. I heard through the grapevine some people went to her game the other day and said she had them rolling. It doesn't surprise me. She's a very high energy person. She played at a high level when she was a player. I'm excited to coach against her, and it will be a battle. But, hey, we're supposed to win.
I know they're coming in with a little chip on their shoulder saying, hey, we're the underdogs. We're the little guys. They're going to bring a good team in here, and we have to be ready to play. So we have to do what we're supposed to do to win the game. I'm expecting them to scrap and play hard, and hopefully we come out on top. That's the plan.
Question: Coach, you mentioned just having a young team this year. With a tough schedule with teams like at Gonzaga, Green Bay, Purdue, what's sort of the key in your mindset you want for this team moving forward?
Kelsey: We are pretty young. Sometimes that's a good thing in that you know you're going to have these players for another three years after their freshman year, but when you play tough teams, it should motivate them to aspire to be the teams that you're playing that's been to the NCAA tournament that's won their conferences.
We don't want to schedule soft and then expect to compete for the Big Ten. You can't do that. Now, we don't want to over schedule either, but I think these teams that we're playing, some of them tops in their leagues, but in a mid major league. Gonzaga, I've coached against them for years. They're going to always have a good team. Now, they've lost some of their players that I coached against at Stanford, but, again, they're going to be a very formidable team, and they probably will win their conference and go to the NCAA tournament.
But we have to play that kind of competition to get ourselves ready for the Big Ten Conference schedule because that's going to be tough as well. When you play tougher teams, you give yourself a chance to compete in the Big Ten.
Question: Obviously recruiting at Stanford is a heck of a lot different than recruiting here in Wisconsin, but has the recruiting process gotten easier year one to year two to get players in here that you think will fit your system?
Kelsey: Easier in the sense that the kids know that we're a staff now. They know who the staff is. They're not just saying, well, who's the coaches at Wisconsin? But not easier in the sense that you're going up against schools that are just as good or better traditionally in basketball.
To get these kids to come, you have to then sell the vision, an opportunity to play a lot because we just don't have the bodies yet to go up against some of the better teams in the Big Ten. But we're getting there. And it just takes that one person to open the door, and then others will follow.
But we also we want people to know that we're not going to back down. We're going to play people tough. And with whomever we have, and I think that the kids embrace that. They're very confident in that they can compete with anyone. We just have to continue to get the best players we can get to come here and really put Wisconsin on a national stage.
Question: After seeing your team in two exhibition games, how close is the offense to operating at the level you want it to and the way you want it to?
Kelsey: Triangle takes years to learn. It's not a done deal where you just put it in. It's not like a set where you just have a couple of screens and that's it. The nuances of it takes a while for kids to get comfortable looking for the different options.
Right now they're kind of on train tracks, so to speak. Kind of looks like we're doing the same thing every single time when we have many options. Sometimes it's too much. They can't remember everything.
But I think once they like the older ones make it up as they go because they understand it, but when you mix some new ones in there, now you've got to just run what they know because then you start ad-libbing and they don't know what they're doing, and they're confused enough as it is.
So we try to keep it simple for them. And when you're playing a lot of kids, it's not going to look as good as when you're playing veterans that have been running it for two or three years. So it will look better in time, but it's getting there.
Question: Bobbie, Tiera Stephen was pretty highly recruited when she went to Louisville. Now she's a senior here. I would assume that her leadership is going to be very beneficial hopefully for your club this year?
Kelsey: Oh, yeah, Tiera has come in and she's really been a different player for us than last year. She grew by leaps and bounds this off season. She's really a vocal leader now.
She really wants to do the right thing out there. Sometimes I think she gets a little nervous because it's hard to run the point guard. It's a difficult position. You have to tell people what to do, where to go. You have to remember everything, everybody's position. I'm yelling at you. So it's a lot.
I think she's done a great job so far, but Dakota's (Whytes) in there as well. She's going to help push the ball, give Tiera a break, let her go to the two a little bit. And then Nicole (Bauman) can run a little point as well.
Triangle, really anybody can initiate the offense, but when you get down to the nuts and bolts, you really need someone to call the plays and look at the situation and get us into a good alignment to run our offense. So Tiera has done a very good job with that so far.
Question: You mentioned areas for improvement. What specifically are you thinking?
Kelsey: Boxing out, rebounding. We're undersized. I think you saw I have the stats here. Each one of these teams, the first game, 27 rebounds total, and this next game here, they had 42 rebounds. Now, we did out rebound them in both games, but we can't give up 42 rebounds to a team that probably can't beat the teams we're going to see this season.
So that's an area that we really have to focus on. Because we are undersized, we really have to start making a better, more concerted effort to box out and box back. I think people think, well, I'm standing in front of her. Well, sweetheart, she's not going to stop just because you're standing there. You've got to put your body on a body. We've been working on that, and we're getting it, but it takes a while.
Question: Getting back to the triangle, I think most casual basketball fans, you think of the triangle, Phil Jackson, the Bulls, the Lakers, who had a few good players on those teams. But in terms of position, what do you think the most position is in terms of triangle? Is it the center? Is it the wing player? What do you think as a coach?
Kelsey: I think, if you have big people that can pass, that's when the triangle really gets good. We had a couple of back doors, and we hit them, but the posts have the ball, and you don't want them to do a whole bunch of dribbling. They have to drop the pass right when the person is open.
I think our posts are learning that, but they're almost afraid to make a turnover. You've got to take a chance if she's open. We work on the breakdowns every day. I think, once they get more confident with it, they will drop those.
I know Anya (Covington) last year, she was dropping to Taylor (Wurtz) all the time, and we would get those back door looks. I think your big people are key. I really do. If you have some big people that can pass, it looks real good.
Question: How's Taylor Wurtz coming along? Is she going to be ready this weekend?
Kelsey: The doctors have cleared her to get back into practice. Not full contact, but back into some drills and noncontact drills. I think Taylor will be I'm optimistic about this weekend, but I'm preparing as if she's not going to play. That may not be the case, but that's not my call. I wish it was because we need her, yeah.
Question: That's what I was going to ask. Is there a timetable at all?
Kelsey: No. Our goal and our focus is for Taylor (Wurtz) to be healthy, period. She's got to walk the rest of her life, and so when you're dealing with a back, you want to be very careful and cautious about any kind of back injury because, obviously, we know that affects everything you do.
And so we don't want her to be debilitated any way just to play basketball. That's not the point. We want her to be healthy, and we're going to listen to the doctors and what they're saying. It's not a surgical thing, but it could get worse. And it's a little bit of nerve stuff involved. We've got to really be careful with that.
We all want her to play, but we're not going to jeopardize her health just to play a game or a season. But I think she feels better. Walking around, she says she feels a lot different than before, and hopefully that's that rest and seeing a doctor and getting the medical treatment that she's gotten will really aid her in being fully able to get through a season without being in pain. It's no fun to play in pain.
Now, Taylor will do it because that's the kind of player she is. She's going to play, and you have to watch her and pull her out. She's not one of those kids she's going to step out, first time in pain, she's like see you later, packing her bags and leaving. She's the extreme the other way. So we have to really watch her and make sure that she's not because she loves to play. That's who she is. We appreciate that about her, but we also know she's not going to pull herself out. We have to do it.
When we saw her dragging her leg, we're like, no, you're not going to do that. So she'll be I think she'll be ready.
Question: At the beginning, you were talking about the team and yourself are more comfortable. When you think back to a year ago and you come back today, what were the things that really were uncertain for you and you just didn't know and now you're just that much more comfortable?
Kelsey: I think just knowing the players, both as people and as players. You know what kind of makes them tick, each individual, and what motivates them and what does not motivate them. You can't coach every kid the same.
I think sometimes we want to, as coaches, just sometimes you just want to yell at everybody. Maybe that kid can't handle that. So you have to come and maybe give a little individual talk with them as opposed to in front of the group. Some kids, they don't care if you call them out. They're just going to forget that and keep moving.
I think you have to know them individually, how you can coach them, and they respond better when you do have to kick them in the pants a little bit and get on them about playing better and playing harder.
A lot of questions today. I like it.
Moderator: Anything else for Coach?
Kelsey: Thank you.