Wisconsin women’s basketball head coach Bobbie Kelsey realizes the Badgers’ need for consistency in games to come.
After going 2-2 in their last four games, the Badgers appear to be more on track than they previously were early in the season, but that form comes following a winless beginning to conference play of 0-6. For a moment, the Badgers’ win against then-No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions had them looking upward.
“For our kids to come out and win that game says a lot about their resolve and their perseverance to get through the adversity that we’ve been experiencing this season,” Kelsey said.
But despite the high they experienced after the big win, the Badgers were routed once again at home by an unranked Illinois Sunday, displaying the inconsistency Kelsey harped about.
“Illinois poses a different challenge — they trap and get a lot of steals,” Kelsey said. “We didn’t come out with the energy and enthusiasm that we needed to.”
As a result of their inability to play like they did against the Lady Lions, the Badgers were defeated at home 64-56, leaving Kelsey frustrated with the inconsistency she found her team immersed in.
“My standards are pretty high, and I’m greedy and competitive,” Kelsey said. “I want them to understand that we can’t have lulls and dips. We have to be very consistent and our margin for error is very slim.”
Kelsey reiterated multiple times how the Badgers are constantly learning from each game and from each other, but that can be hard to handle when it is accompanied by such little success.
“Unfortunately, you want to learn winning instead of losing, but sometimes a loss gets your attention more than a win,” Kelsey said.
A big piece of the puzzle is junior guard Morgan Paige.
Despite the loss, Paige racked up 23 points against Illinois, following a 33-point effort against Penn State, displaying her ability to score in multiple ways. Kelsey said her craftiness is something some of her other players lack and something they can all learn from.
“They’re learning, but Morgan has it today, and we need it,” Kelsey said.
“She doesn’t let things that she’s doing bother her,” Kelsey added. “She continues to motor forward and I think that’s why she’s been so successful in her play.”
Despite Paige’s leadership, she can’t do it all by herself, and it will be crucial in the coming weeks other players on the court step up.
“I’m looking for anybody — freshmen, seniors, sophomores, I don’t care who it is — to step up and give Morgan some help,” Kelsey said.
As of late, the Badgers’ roster is at an all-time low given the injuries and transfers the team has been forced to deal with. The adversity has made the Badgers’ rotation shallow with only about seven players touching the floor each game.
“The injuries are people that we would have scoring,” Kelsey said. “I mean, you’re talking about potentially 40 points sitting over there, but I can’t wallow in that.”
Kelsey believes the entire struggle the team has been through is what ultimately helps them persevere in the end of some games.
“We don’t focus on that. We focus on who can play, who’s available, and then we try to get them ready to go,” Kelsey said.
Despite the team’s early struggle, the Badgers are looking to bounce back. Their next matchups place them against two unranked teams — Ohio State and Indiana — before taking on No. 13 Purdue.
“I know Ohio State is looking for a little bit of payback,” Kelsey said. “We’ll take that challenge as we always do and prepare for them.”