5 names UW should look at in replacing women’s basketball head coach Bobbie Kelsey

The Wisconsin Badgers reached out to a national blue-blood program the last time it replaced a women’s basketball head coach. Bobbie Kelsey, a long-time assistant at her alma mater of Standford was the pick, but she lasted just five years in Madison before she was let go.

Injuries, bad play and a lack of national spark on the recruiting trail were all big factors in Kelsey’s failure in the wins and losses category and led to her undoing.

Reasons and excuses aside, its now time for the program to move forward and get back to winning basketball games and making NCAA tournament appearances. Who will be tasked with that job?

We have five suggestions of places to look if Barry Alvarez and the athletics board want to get serious about winning again. Here are five names UW should be reaching out to.


Tina Langley, Rice head coach

Those in the know at Wisconsin should know exactly who Langley is, as she was the top assistant on Maryland’s staff during their inaugural season in the Big Ten. All that Terps team did was come in and take the B1G crown and go a perfect 18-0 in the process. One of the key figures on that staff was Langley, who spent seven seasons in College Park helping to build one of the best programs in women’s college basketball.

However, she took her coaching whistle and headed off to Rice to become their head coach for the 2015-16 season. She immediately changed the culture and results on the court as well, with the Owls going from 4-14 in Conference-USA play in the season before her arrival to 7-9 with two games left in C-USA play this season.

Those are results that say talent is there, now add in the name and budget of a place like Wisconsin and there is a foundation for success to be had.

While Langley may be a stretch given she is in just her first year as a head coach at the D1 level, her pedigree as an assistant at a program like Maryland and her abilities on the recruiting trail should make her attractive. The bigger question may be if Langley is willing to jump after just one season at Rice?

Wisconsin would be lucky if she said yes, that’s for sure.


Lance White, Florida State associate head coach

There’s no doubting the chops of Lance White, as he is regarded as one of the best recruiters in the country and his association with Florida State and its winning ways are no coincidence. However, he’s spent most of his career being an assistant coach at both Texas Tech and FSU.

Would he really want to jump on the rebuilding job the Badgers have in front of them? On the positive side, Wisconsin does have the best recruiting class it has had in a long time coming in for 2016. That includes an ESPNw Top100 forward Abby Laszewski.

As a coach, White is nearly unmatched in terms of his experience at winning programs in multiple leagues and multiple locals in this country.

However, there’s also the fact that he is a man, and it is well known that AD Barry Alvarez prefers to hire a woman to fill this role. At least that was the case last time out, and given the results there, perhaps it should be the best candidate and not the best candidate of one gender?

We’ll see if there is any interest in White from Wisconsin or vice versa, but given FSU’s rise since his hire some 13 years ago this would be a coach I’d be reaching out to.


Billy Fennelly, Iowa State assistant coach

If you want to look outside the box and look to someone with a ton of recruiting prowess and potential as a head coach, then Billy Fennelly is exactly that man. If the last name seems familiar it is because Billy is the son of long-time (and very successful) Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly.

Coaching appears to be in his blood, and while it is a popular belief that he’s being groomed to eventually take over, don’t expect that to happen as quickly as you’d think. Not only is Bill Fennelly still going strong, he has a long-time assistant who was just upgraded to associate head coach over his son.

Still, that doesn’t mean the younger Fennelly isn’t ready to make a jump and become the leader of his own program. He’s been one of the best recruiters in the country since coming on staff six years ago, and has been the architect of three-straight Top 25 recruiting classes.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say that associated with the Wisconsin Badgers?

The Big 12 is a different league, and Fennelly may struggle a bit to adjust to the physicality of the Big Ten. He may also just inject the necessary fun and three-point crazy offense to change Wisconsin’s standing in the Big Ten.

While this is the most unlikely name to even get a look by the Badgers, it is one name I would be reaching out to to gauge just where assistants rate the job.


Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Albany head coach

Finally we get to another head coach at the D1 level, and this is a name I can’t believe hasn’t been swooped up by bigger programs on the East Coast already. All she has done is make the Albany Great Danes in to one of the best mid-major teams on the East Coast in her six-plus seasons at the helm of the program.

She is 140-46 in her tenure at Albany, with just six losses in America East conference play the last five seasons. This year, the Great Danes are 23-4 and 14-1 in conference play. Need we say more?

Sure, the jump from mid-major (and arguably low-major) Albany to the Big Ten would be perceived as a massive jump, but that’s where her resume becomes really attractive. She also has been the head coach at Missouri State, before joining the staff of the Indiana Hoosiers from 2008 to 2010.

Abrahamson-Henderson has also had an extensive assistant coaching background at the highest level, including a two-year stop at both Iowa State and Michigan State on her resume.

Of all the mid-major level coaches Wisconsin could consider, this one could be as close to a home run as possible.


Dan Burt, Duquesne head coach

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A three-year stint as a head coach may not build a ton of confidence that one would be ready to jump in to a Big Ten job. However, when you consider that he took a Duquesne team that was expected to be bottom half of the Atlantic-10 in his first season (2013-14) and made them in to a 20-win program with a winning record in conference play…well you have the confidence you need.

Burt has only three years of head coaching experience at any level, but it has been all sorts of successful for the Dukes. He’s piled up a .717 winning percentage (66-26) in his tenure at the Pittsburgh-based school, while also going from 10-6 to 12-4 and now 13-2 in A-10 play over the last three years.

On the court, there are few head coaches not already at a Power 5 job with a better recent resume.

Winning quickly should be appealing to a program hungry for winning basketball, a recruiting class with lots of promise and a fanbase wanting badly to care at all about women’s basketball. This type of hire could inspire fans to come back to the Kohl Center, and while he’s last on our list, he’s certainly not the last one I’d be calling.

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