Aug. 25, 2014
• Sheffield News Conference MADISON, Wis. --
Wisconsin volleyball head coach Kelly Sheffield
met with members of the media Monday at Camp Randall Stadium to preview the Badgers' season opener this weekend at the Big Ten ACC Challenge in Minneapolis.
Video of Sheffield’s media session can be found above, and a complete transcript of his remarks is below.
Opening Statement: We're really excited about game week finally being here and look forward to go to Minnesota to play Louisville and Notre Dame this week. It's been a good camp. Preseason, I thought we were relatively healthy, which is a plus. It’s been a little bit humid and hot in the gym the past few days, and we've had to slow things down because of that.
I've been really, really pleased. The team's working really hard. We're getting after each other. I think every day we've gotten in the gym with some mindful reps and trying to practice with purpose. We're just excited these next few days to get after it.
QUESTION: Kelly, have you embraced these expectations knowing what you guys accomplished this last year?
SHEFFIELD: Ultimately, we didn't accomplish our goals. It got down to it, and you're trying to win you're trying to win championships Big Ten Championships, National Championships, and you're just embracing the new season. That’s the beauty of the new season. That's why every coach that comes up here is really fired up and excited is because it's renewed enthusiasm, a lot of different possibilities.
So, yeah, we should have some confidence from last year that I think all of us know that it doesn't really guarantee anything. I don't think you look at it as pressure or stress. You look at it as opportunity.
Coach Andersen was throwing that word out quite a bit in his conference. It is what it is. We've got a tremendous opportunity to have a great season, accomplish great things, and we're excited about it. We're embracing it.
QUESTION: I read that the season ticket sales this year went up 70 percent from last year. What are your thoughts on that and the support that you're getting after last year's season?
SHEFFIELD: It's awesome. I mean, it's a collective effort. I mean, our Marketing Department and our Media Relations Department have done a really good job. The local media have done a lot for us.
I think we're also playing the game the right way. Our kids are playing hard, they're passionate, and they're connecting. They're trying to connect with the community, and we're fortunate. People are excited about it, which makes us excited. Like you said, you're almost doubling what your season tickets were a year ago.
With some of the events that we've had, they've come out and have been fired up. We need that. We need the Fieldhouse packed. We need to sell that place out. When we're playing at home in front of the crowd that we have here, which is one of the best in college volleyball, it means so much to our players. I see the energy that they give to our team.
To see them support us by coming back and not only renewing their tickets, it sends a message that it's worth their time and their money last year, but to see so many new ones this year, people that haven't been season ticket holders in ten years are coming back and saying, hey, I'm giving you guys another shot. It's cool. We appreciate it.
QUESTION: Kelly, have you seen Lauren progress from freshman year to sophomore year? How good can she be?
SHEFFIELD: She can get a lot better to answer that. She's a good player right now, a really good player, a special player, but she's capable of so much more, and she knows that.
Number one, she's healthier this preseason than she was last year. So defensively she's able to get a lot more reps. She's able to get in positions that she wasn't able to last year. She had a lot more confidence this time last year, not only trying to get healthy, but try to figure out what the college game is. She's reading a lot better.
I think in pressure moments that she's a little bit calmer than what she was this time last year. There's a lot of things. She's trying to get her serve better. She's trying to become a better blocker. She's trying to locate even more.
That's one of the great things about Lauren is that she's constantly trying to find ways to get better. She's as coachable an athlete as I've ever been around and is competitive with every rep in the practice gym as any player I've ever been around. That's why she's the player that she is.
QUESTION: Kelly, will your team do anything differently, anything different from a year ago? Will there be different little wrinkles that you'll throw in?
SHEFFIELD: Number one, we graduated Annemarie Hickey, which was a really special player for us. Last year we passed with two. This year we'll probably pass with three. Both of our passers, all six rotations last year were back row players, and this year we're going to have a front row player in at least probably all six rotations. So that adds that element of being able to pass to hit.
So that element of a server being able to take out our attacker, they couldn't do that last year, you know. So from a training aspect, that changes things.
We're trying to run our offense a lot quicker than what we were last year. We're spending a lot of time with the timing and the tempo of our offense. I'd say those are probably the two biggest things the fans will probably notice.
QUESTION: People motivate in different ways, bulletin board material, rankings, things like that. I saw that you guys were picked to go third in the Big Ten. Is that something that you guys look at? And given what you accomplished last year, do you use that as motivation at all?
SHEFFIELD: I'll be honest with you. We literally have not talked about it one time. We haven't mentioned it in a meeting, a practice, one on one. There's been zero mention of a ranking, a poll.
We haven't even talked about our goals this year because I think everybody just knows what they are.
Last year or maybe some past years, we've used that as maybe some motivation. Big Ten's a great conference. I don't think we look at it as a slap in the face. We look at it as, man, there's some really, really good teams over here. In this league, if you show up to play, you're going to be able to beat anybody. And if you don't, every team is going to be able to beat you.
So previous years, I'd probably use that as motivation. This year, zilch.
QUESTION: Kelly, what's the biggest thing for you from year one to year two? Do you feel more comfortable?
SHEFFIELD: Probably a little bit. I know more people around here. So if we need something, I know who to go to. I don't get lost quite as much when I'm walking around this place as I did a year ago.
I know our players better than what I did a year ago, and so sometimes when you're coming in as a new coach, you're trying to figure out how to get different players to respond and how to communicate with different players. That's probably a little bit smoother.
We've got three new kids coming in, and one of them, I've known for a long, long time. I would say those are the areas. I don't know that it's anything different. It's a staff that's returning. It's most of the players that are returning. That's fortunate.
Next year we've got a lot of turnover, so maybe it feels a lot different. For us, in our own little world of just the same players that are pretty much coming back, and our group of coaches, we're just kind of moving forward.
QUESTION: How important is it to know what it takes as opposed to figuring out what it takes? Because last year you guys they didn't know how to make a tournament run, and this year they know how to do it. How important is it knowing as opposed to figuring it out on the fly?
SHEFFIELD: Somebody was asking me that yesterday. They're talking about we're experienced now and that's great, and they're talking about another team that had a lot of turnover and they're inexperienced.
I don't know if I buy into the experience/inexperience thing. It was kind of my thought last year as well. You're either talented and motivated or you're not. We've been through it.
There's been a lot of teams there's a lot of teams that have returned a lot of players that have had a good year, and the following year they just fell short of what I'm sure their goals and expectations were. Are you able to get better?
I would say the one thing that we probably have is that we're probably a little more confident of a team than we were a year ago. I think but sometimes ignorance can be a really good thing as well. You just don't know. You just go out there and play. But now maybe you're carrying on a little bit more.
I think we're in a good place right now. I think the experience gave us more confidence. There’s an edge to these guys right now. They've been pat on the back for quite a few months, but there's some players that have some anger management issues right now after last year. They're playing with a chip on their shoulder.
There's some I don't think they feel like they accomplished quite as much as maybe some other people. As a coach, I think I'm okay with that.