Although many Wisconsin teams’ schedules will only heat up over Thanksgiving break, the women’s basketball team is anticipating just the opposite: a break.
After a two-game weekend set out west in Washington, the Badgers will have to wait a little bit longer as Washington travels to the Kohl Center for a nonconference matchup Wednesday night.
Wisconsin split the past weekend, falling at Gonzaga Friday 62-53 before triumphing at Washington State Sunday 52-44. If it wasn’t for some inconsistent offense in the first game of the weekend, Wisconsin could have swept the pair of weekend games.
“To play [one of the] best teams in the country, and lead them by 14 — you gotta finish the game,” head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “Obviously that team is very experienced and found a way to pull away from us — but I was very proud of them because we’re one of the least experienced teams in the country.”
Although Wisconsin struggled to close the game against Gonzaga, UW scored eight points in the final minute to seal the deal Sunday against Washington State. As Washington comes to Madison, Kelsey welcomes an opponent she used to see a lot of dating back to her assistant coaching days at Stanford.
Her coaching tenure at Stanford also included a Final Four run, during which the Cardinal matched up against Xavier, the former coaching home to current Huskies head coach Kevin McGuff. Kelsey said she expects her sideline adversary to key on some mistakes the Badgers made last weekend.
“You kind of think about what he did then, because you don’t really change a whole lot,” Kelsey said. “He’s going to trap you; he’s going to run off-ball screens.”
This comes after Friday’s game, in which Wisconsin coughed up 21 turnovers to a pressing Gonzaga team.
The Huskies will likely lean on redshirt senior Kristi Kingma for their press, the only current Huskies player Kelsey said she distinctly remembers coaching in what was then the Pac-10.
The 5-foot-11 guard/forward led Washington with 15.6 points per game last season and has scored in double figures in all four of Washington’s victories thus far.
One thing Washinton will not bring to Madison, however, is a deep lineup. The Huskies have run with a seven- or eight-player rotation throughout all four games this season, even in blowout victories.
The Badgers have spread minutes through nine- or 10-player rotations through their three games, so a possible advantage may be in overall team depth. Senior guard Taylor Wurtz noted an up-tempo game may be the Badgers’ best ally.
“A big thing we’re keying on is offensive boards … and just playing good, high-pressured defense,” Wurtz said. “We really want to push the tempo.”
Pushing the tempo becomes a more difficult task, considering this will be the Badgers’ third game in just six days, including a pair of flights to and from the state of Washington.
Morning practices have seemingly become a regularity for a team that has spent loads of time on the road lately. Although in just her second year with the team, sophomore forward Jacki Gulczynski said she thinks the team has adapted to its hectic schedule, noting it provides a great chance for the team to come together.
“We’ve bonded as a team, adding a lot of team chemistry, especially on the road,” Gulczynski said.
A chaotic schedule can lead from one game to the next, and scouting opponents tends to take a backseat. At this point in the season, the Badgers are just trying to key on themselves.
“We went over their scheme and what they’re going to do,” Gulczynski said. “At the end, we’re just trying to focus on what we’re trying to do, our end.”