Women’s Basketball healthier, looking to build off experience in 2013-14

The record said 12-19 when it was all said and done in 2012-13, but that wasn't the full story. Key players going down with injuries and playing 6 or 7 players, at most, contributed a lot to that record. 

However, there were a lot of positives taken out of that season and when you combine that experience with the team finally getting healthy, head coach Bobbie Kelsey is looking forward to what this team can do. 

One of the keys to moving forward and upward is getting forward Taylor Wurtz back after missing last season with an injury—especially considering this team was in so many of the games it lost until the bitter end.

"We lost 12 of our 19 losses was by single digits, which you feel like Taylor could have remedied a lot of that," head coach Bobbie Kelsey said at Big Ten Media Day. "But a lot of other kids got to play and now that she is back and healthy she looks really good and she doesn't have to do everything on her own. That's something she is going to have to learn, to let people help her. But when we need a basket we're going to Taylor."

Kelsey hinted that other players will be able to score around Wurtz and one of them could be a big-time transfer in Michala Johnson, who is coming to the Badgers after transferring from UConn and sitting out last year. 

"it's nice to have her (Michala Johnson) in the post. We haven't had a true bonus post player since Covington came along our first year but she can do damage down on the block." 

With the two bigger presences for this team in the front court, the Badgers could really play the way Kelsey preaches for the first time in her tenure at Wisconsin. 

If you tune in to the Badgers games or wonder into the Kohl Center for a game, expect to see a team that pushes the pace, but in a different way than most teams do. 

"I tell the guards to get the ball to the frontcourt as fast as you can and then if we don't have the advantage get us into something," said Kelsey. "So we're going to try to get the ball to the frontcourt faster so I don't think the 10-second backcourt rule is going to have a lot of bearing on us, we're going to get it up there faster unless we're being pressed or something and when kids aren't doing what we need them to do, I can pull 'em on out."

Last season, pulling players wasn't an option for Kelsey who went into the Big Ten tournament with barely six players available to play. 

That meant players knowing the threat of playing time wasn't a serious one from the coach, and as Kelsey said—she can do that this year. 

However, it doesn't mean players weren't taking in lessons all last season either. 

"They really did try to do what we asked them to do but this year we have more scorers, more bodies, more opportunities to get everybody involved," Kelsey said. 

While Wurtz and Michala Johnson will be focal points to the offense, don't sleep on a backcourt that really helped this team last season. 

The only missing part from last season is starting point guard Tiera Stephen, but once again the depth and playing time of some of the younger players are going to pay off in this situation. 

Coach Kelsey indicated that the primary point guard this year will be Dakota Whyte, who played in 28 games and made 1 start last season. 

She also averaged just 11 minutes a game and averaged 2.4 points a game. 

Whyte won't do it alone though, and Nicole Bauman will be another option at the point guard spot after averaging 7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. She also shot 34.1 percent from behind the arc, which was 3rd on a team that shot just 28.7 percent from behind the 3-point line. 

While some will only remember the bitter moments for the young Badgers last year, coach Kelsey sees some big-time positives coming out of a few of their Big Ten wins—especially the win over Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament and beating conference champion Penn State too. 

"…to compete on that level with those type of teams. You don't want moral victories, but you got to hang your hat on something," said Kelsey. "We want the kids to understand even if you don't win, if you play hard you have a chance and that's what we give ourselves every game, a chance to win. With the exception of those that we weren't in the game but those are few and are far between and I'm proud of our kids for persevering." 

Now, in 2013-14 the key for Wisconsin will be take those lessons and apply them to start winning more basketball games.

With all the experienced gained and the players being added back to the mix, Wisconsin feels like they have the right group to turn the ship around in a big way. 

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com

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