April 17, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Before practice earlier this week, head coach Kelly Sheffield sat in the Field House and pointed around the court where at least a half dozen of his players were taking part in drills.
“Just look,” Sheffield said. “We’re not in practice right now. Look what they’re doing here. They’re not being asked to do that. Those are the reasons we’re going to continue to get stronger.”
Sheffield and his Badgers will get one final chance in the spring season this weekend to put that work ethic to the test when they visit Minneapolis for the Minnesota Spring Invitational Saturday.
Wisconsin will face Minnesota-Crookston, Ohio and Minnesota in the all-day tournament. After three home matches, Sheffield says an all-day tournament will help the coaches learn more about the team.
“It gives us more information on the players and it gives us three different opponents which is nice," Sheffield added. "It’s a chance to play more. There are some challenges. We have some soreness and some injuries that we’re managing through, but we’re excited to see some other teams.”
Sheffield also said a road trip gives the coaches and team an opportunity to get to know each other better.
“Every day I’m learning more about these girls,” Sheffield said. “Road trips allow you to get to know people off the court. Most of our dealings have been on the court. It will be nice to get to know them off the court as well.”
Sheffield said the team as a whole is getting more comfortable with the systems the new staff has implemented. The coach also noted a few individuals who have made strides this spring. Sophomore Crystal Graff continues to gain strength after missing half of the 2011 season with injury. For incoming freshman Tori Blake, everything is new and about growth at this point.
Sophomore Ellen Chapman is another player Sheffield singled out.
“That spark is coming. That competitiveness,” Sheffield said. “She is making that decision that she wants to be elite in this sport. And when you make that decision—that conscious decision—that you want to be one of the best and you train that way with urgency, then that improvement comes really quick.”
The Badgers open play Saturday at 9 a.m. against Minnesota-Crookston before taking on Ohio at 11:20 a.m. Wisconsin concludes the invitational against Minnesota at 3:50 p.m.
Fans can follow the team on Twitter at @BadgerVBall for coverage throughout the day, and UWBadgers.com will have a full recap after the conclusion of the tournament.