After a decisive win against Alabama Saturday, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team is preparing for its matchup with in-state rival Marquette Wednesday.
The Badgers lit up the Kohl Center scoreboard with a few career-highs over the weekend, and head coach Bobbie Kelsey addressed rebounding, injuries and transfer issues in her weekly press conference Monday.
The Badgers (4-3) used solid play from younger players on their way to a 69-50 victory. Freshmen Nicole Bauman and Dakota Whyte both tallied career highs in points, while sophomore guard/forward Jacki Gulczynski earned a career high with eight rebounds.
One of the biggest keys to UW’s success against Alabama was its rebounding, where it outdid the Tide 59-38. Rebounding had been an issue throughout the first six games of the season, so it was something the team keyed in on.
“If the ball is dropping, you keep shooting,” Kelsey said. “If you’re getting rebounds, you keep going after them. And so that’s what we did, and I think the kids did a really good job with that.”
An area they still need work on is turnovers. Wisconsin coughed up the ball 31 times in the Alabama game, though its high shooting percentage was able to make up for the lack of ball control.
Whyte has helped in the ball-handling department when senior guard Tiera Stephen has needed a break. Kelsey said the freshman has been especially impressive so far this season.
“You saw flashes of it in the game,” Kelsey said. “She’s a very good ball-handler when she takes her time and reads the situation. She can shoot the ball. She just has a lot of upside, but, again, she’s a freshman. You’ve got to train them and mold them and shape them and get them where you want them to be.”
With only two seniors on the team and freshmen like Bauman and Whyte taking increased roles, Kelsey said she realizes the team may take some time before it can accomplish its collective goals.
“A lot of this beginning period for the freshmen is just getting acclimated to what college basketball is about — the pace, the physicality, the demand on and off the court,” Kelsey said, “me yelling at them, me getting on them, but also encouraging them that they can do it. If I didn’t think they could, I wouldn’t have recruited them.”
The road didn’t get easier as another difficult situation arose Monday when Kelsey announced that sophomore guard Lindsay Smith would transfer, effective immediately.
Smith played 32 games in her career, starting two as a freshman, but she played in just six games this season, averaging 2.3 minutes. She had been hindered by injuries so far this year.
“She decided that was more of what was going to make her happy,” Kelsey said. “The bottom line is, if that’s going to make her happy, we wish her nothing but the best.”
Also missing time for Wisconsin is senior Taylor Wurtz, who has been out the past two games with a back injury. Kelsey is not sure when Wisconsin will be able to get her back on the floor. But one thing is for certain: Wurtz definitely will not be rushed back to play.
“We’re still waiting for doctors,” Kelsey said. “She had doctor’s appointments with different people and just trying to figure out the best option for her.”
Until they find out more details, Kelsey noted the team will not be making any statements on Wurtz’s health.
The team will definitely be without Wurtz as it prepares for a matchup with in-state rival Marquette (4-2) Wednesday. Kelsey noted although the two teams don’t play in the same conference, Marquette is definitely a rival for recruiting in-state players.
Although this rivalry might not mean much to those outside the state of Wisconsin, the players for both these teams understand the history, and Marquette will pose a difficult challenge for the Badgers this year.
UW is looking forward to the matchup but is treating it just like every other game.
“Obviously, the kids in-state know more about teams than those that don’t live in Wisconsin,” Kelsey said. “But you want to win every game. You don’t care who it’s against. You want to win.”