After finishing the season with a disappointing loss to Minnesota in the conference tournament, The Badger Herald’s Nick Korger got a chance to sit down with Wisconsin women’s head basketball coach Bobbie Kelsey to go one-on-one after the conclusion of the rookie head coach’s first year and find out how things are coming together for year No. 2.
Nick Korger: Looking into the future, who are your incoming recruits for next year and what do they bring to the table?
Bobbie Kelsey: We got Nicole Bauman from [New Berlin] Eisenhower, here in Wisconsin. She’s a feisty little player; she’s a playmaker. Her and Dakota Whyte from Canada, they’re both playmakers. They can see things before they actually happen, they can anticipate well, so they can make the pass or shoot themselves and make the shot. I think they have the biggest upside of anybody we’re bringing in. Makailah Dyer (from Madison) does as well; she doesn’t play in as good as a league as Nicole or the competition Dakota sees, but she’s a capable scorer. I mean all of them have stuff they need to work on. We also have Shannon Malone from Flower Mound, Texas, she’s a very aggressive forward, a rebounder who can finish around the basket with contact and doesn’t mind getting hit. She had a knee injury, but she’s recovered from that, so her stats don’t look as robust as last year, but we know what she’s capable of. We’re looking for her to come in and add that aggressiveness we need. We also have a [6-foot-3] junior college kid from Jacksonville (Fla.) coming in.
NK: How do you sell a recruit on a program that’s rebuilding?
BK: You have to help them see the potential of it and the opportunity for them being at a school like Wisconsin. Winning helps. I mean, if you get that exposure some kids want to hop on the bandwagon, and some want to come for other reasons besides the basketball. It takes time; we haven’t even been here long enough, and some of these kids don’t know who we are. We’re still trying to learn about what’s available in the state and the surrounding states. If you can get them here you sell the whole package, not just basketball but the love for the Badgers and the area. I mean we’re not in a one-stoplight town; this is a very robust community. A lot of kids, when they come, if they haven’t been here already, they’re pleasantly surprised. It’s a good challenge to see who we can get and how fast we can get them.
NK: Next year you’re bringing back Morgan Paige and Taylor Wurtz. What are you looking for them to improve on this offseason?
BK: I think Morgan needs a mid-range game; she sort of has an all-or-nothing offense where it’s either a layup or a three for her. She needs to learn how to pull up because the best guards in our conference have that. Taylor needs to take hers more too. She picks up a few charges in games when she’s driving for a layup and a defender beats her to a spot. Sometimes she holds onto the ball too long, but that’s because she’s trying to make something happen for our team, and that’s to be commended. But sometimes the best player can hold onto it too long. She has to be more of a playmaker as well. When you have other kids that can come in who can pass her the ball and she can get open set shots. We really didn’t have those guards this year that could create for themselves and others off the dribble. I think Taylor will benefit from especially Dakota coming in and being a typical point guard.
NK: What do you expect from your players in the offseason and their body of work with conditioning and skill work?
BK: It’s putting in the skill work. It’s the ball handling and the shooting; that’s where it’s at. You don’t have to be a great player to be in great shape. Anybody can get in great shape if they commit to it. I’ve coached players who were in great shape but they didn’t have the skill set to do what they needed to do on the court. It’s a priority to work on your shooting. If you can’t hit an open shot, you can’t be on the floor; nobody’s going to guard you. If you can’t handle the ball you can’t be out there, so those are the two things in my mind that are the most important. Conditioning’s next; you make mistakes when you’re tired. You have to be in great shape. It’s going to be interesting to see how good we can get and how long it will take us.