Dec. 2, 2013
• Watch Kelsey's News Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin head women's basketball coach Bobbie Kelsey spoke about the Badgers' undefeated week, looked ahead to Gonzaga and spoke on Dakota Whyte’s progress.
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: Thank you. I'm very happy we put together some back-to-back wins against some quality opponents. They were some tough games, but I think I'd rather them be tougher than just blowouts, either way, one end or the other of those games. Those games don't help you if we want to go where we want to go, which is to the NCAA tournament. We need to make sure we're preparing ourselves all the time to experience what that would be like.
Those who have gone, some of the kids have gone, some of the coaches have gone, but the majority of our program has not experienced the NCAA tournament. So we want to make sure we're preparing ourselves for those kinds of games. And these last two definitely challenged us in many ways.
Question: What's the progression you've seen in Dakota (Whyte) this season, as she's had some games under her belt? Some pluses, maybe some minuses. What are you seeing?
Kelsey: Dakota, I can't say enough about her development, her improvement. She's improved her conditioning. She's improved her shot. She could always handle the ball.
She's learning on the fly, and that's not a bad thing, because she's a young player. And I have to live with some of her mistakes. You can't yank her every time she does something wrong. That kills the confidence.
But she's always trying to do what you want her to do, which is a good thing. She's not fighting it. But she has to remember, and it's a lot for her because she's basically by herself, like Tiara (Stephen) was last year. That's not by choice. We had some people leave.
Lacia Gorman was a point guard for us. She decided to go somewhere else, Lindsay Smith. But, anyway, I don't worry about what we don't have. I just worry about what we do have. And it's a credit to Dakota, her work ethic and her desire to be a good. She wants to be good. And she wants to be a leader, and not everybody wants that. It's hard to lead. But she wants it, and she's done a great job for us.
I told her she can't come out of the game now unless she absolutely has to come out. She can't get in foul trouble. Same thing with Nic (Nicole Bauman). She can't get in foul trouble. You've got to have your posts and your point guard in the game. You can fill in some of those other spots, but those two are the hardest ones to fill.
Dakota has come a long way, she really has. We're very proud of her.
Question: You mentioned NCAA tournament. What can a game like the one this week against Gonzaga do to maybe help boost that momentum?
Kelsey: Any time you play a ranked team, you want to produce against a ranked team because that gets the attention of those who are selecting and those who are making those decisions.
When it comes down to it, I'm not sure where we'll be at that point, but I'd like to think we'd be in the conversation. That's what you're going for. That's the goal.
Gonzaga is a very storied program as far as women's basketball. The men are obviously well known as well. But the women -- Kelly Graves has done a great job out there. He's a great guy. I love working with him. I worked with him at USA Basketball. Obviously at Stanford we played against him every year. He has a nice core group of kids, and he's always a tough team to play.
Whether you do it with a Stanford group or our group, they're going to produce, and they're going to do some things that you have to either counter or stop, or you better be doing something on your end because they're not ranked for no reason. They're a good team.
But we have some players now too that they have to be mindful of. And we're going to go out there and give a good challenge, and we'll see what happens.
Question: You often hear coaches, Bobbie, say good teams find ways to win. Would that kind of fit into the category on Saturday? Because I heard you say that was an ugly win.
Kelsey: That was probably the ugliest I've ever seen. And I've been a part of many different programs, high level and low level, and that might be the ugliest.
We had layups that we were -- I know Dakota (Whyte) has -- I mean, just if the nine other people stood on the other end and shoot a basket, that's how wide open she was. She decides to just pass it and turn it over. Taylor (Wurtz) was -- it was just miss after miss after miss, and you still win the game.
You have to find a way to get it done. Marquette's a great team. They have some -- they're big. We're not as big as Marquette. They were big. We had to find a way to keep them off the boards, and they hit some tough shots at the end. It was a battle out there.
But luckily we hit one or two more shots than they did. But they had 21 -- 20 O-boards. We did nothing right. I don't even know how we won the game. I really don't. Probably should not have won it. That's the way it goes sometimes.
We've been on both ends of that, so we know how it feels. But we were happy to get the win and just get out of there and just get down the medicine.
But Marquette will be there at the end too. They're a good team.
Question: What have you learned, either good or bad, about your team over the past couple games? What are you going to focus on moving forward?
Kelsey: The good is that they fight. I referenced that Vandy (Vanderbilt) game a lot because, even though we lost that game, that was the first time I'd seen them really fight for it and just claw and just do whatever you got to do to give yourself a chance. And I did not see that in the Alabama game.
But early games, you don't always see it. Kids have to kind of go through it a little bit to understand that you can't just be passive. This is an aggressive game. You have to believe you're the best player out there. The confident kids, you don't have to pump them up. They believe I'm better than everybody out here. Now, if they're not but they believe it, you've got to believe it in order to kind of give some of that energy out.
So I did like the fight. We fought in all these games. We just have come out on the positive end, but you still want to fight and give yourself a chance.
Some of the stuff I don't like is just us not recognizing when we're open. We preplan. Well, you can't preplan in basketball. If you're guarding me and you fall down, am I going to continue to run the play? No, I'm going to go to the basket. But we kind of preplan stuff, and then the defense doesn't give us that, but we already committed to it.
So we have to do a better job of being instinctual. Basketball is an instinctual game. You come up, oh, going this way. I didn't know you were going to do that, but if you do, I have to then adjust on the fly.
It's a quick game, and sometimes we preplan. That's why I look so crazy when you're like why would she do that? Because she's already planned it out. But unfortunately the defense did not allow that.
We have young players that have to be more instinctual and understand that at any moment something could change and you then have to change with it. So once we do that, I think we'll play a lot better.
Question: Do you think it's because you have a young team, or do you think that instinct will come over the course of their career? Or what is it exactly?
Kelsey: I wish I -- if I really knew, I could sell it and I probably would make millions of dollars, and I could leave this job or whatever. But some of it is the understanding, the -- I tell them, you know, the physicality and the talent level, you can have the same talent, but if your mind is better than the other kid, then you're going to outthink her before she can even figure out what you're doing. You've got to be cunning, sneaky: I'm going over here; no, not really. I'm coming over here, but I'm just making it look like that.
We've got to have more sneak in our game. I tell them all the time: You guys have to be actresses out here. You've got to pretend like you're doing something but really you're not doing that. So the defense doesn't get -- they don't know what you're doing.
Some of that is the player; some of that is repetition and just doing it in the practice. Some of that is just playing.
Once they figure that out, then -- that's where the great ones separate themselves, because the great ones make it look like something, but really they're not doing that. They're just fooling you, and sometimes you fall for it.